Tasmania’s state capital Hobart is a pleasant if mostly unspectacular place (other than a few things at the end of this post), particularly strong on heritage and it’s connection with Antarctica, worth exploring for a few days. It felt like a larger version of Dunedin, with a similar natural setting, climate and relative absence of modern buildings.
Mawson’s Huts Replica Museum
Absolutely fascinating replica of Mawson’s Huts on Antarctica with the visitor fees going toward maintaining the originals. Amazing how 18 men survived in the windiest spot on the planet with little heating or any personal space for several years. Would love to see similar replica’s of Scott and Shackleton’s Huts.
The Domain and Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens
Hobart has surprisingly few green spaces near the city centre (particularly compared with other Australian state capitals) but does have the sizeable Domain, home to the war memorial, an abandoned zoo, Soldiers Memorial Avenue and the Botanic Gardens. The gardens aren’t huge but nicely laid out, particularly the conservatory, Japanese garden and the unusual sub-Antarctic greenhouse, kept at 4C, refreshing!
Tasmanian Museum and Arts Gallery
A beautifully laid out museum, with an eclectic collection, my favourite being the section on Antarctica and the Southern Oceans (which oddly I didn’t take any photos of!).
The Tench (Penitentiary Chapel Historic Site)
Very informative one and a half hour guided tours take you around the remains of the once sizeable penitentiary, where the holding cells and courts were still in use up until 1975!
Narryna House and Markree House
Owned by the Tasmanian Museum these are well preserved examples of an 1840s Georgian style villa and a 1920s arts and crafts inspired house, only five minutes walk from each other.
Mt Nelson lookout
An easy drive or a somewhat tougher than expected 12km run from where I was staying up to the 352m high summit of Mt Nelson provided good views of the bay, though the city centre was somewhat hidden. Running back down through the bush, coming across wallabies, was the highlight.
For better views, though less running friendly (though there is a half marathon from town to the summit), the 1,271m high Mt Wellington is hard to beat. Tricky light but you get the idea of Hobart, a relatively small population (220,000 people) spread over a vast area. Makes Auckland look compact!
Tasman Peninsula and Port Arthur
For a great day trip it is hard to beat a morning on a boat exploring the beautiful Tasman Peninsula and an afternoon exploring the huge former British penal colony at Port Arthur. Here’s a few photos but there’s so much to cover expect a couple of separate posts on them individually.
MONA (Museum of Old and New Art)
One of the most fascinating, challenging, and exhausting art galleries I’ve ever visited, MONA is understandably one of the most popular attractions in Tasmania, putting Hobart on the international art map. It’s deliberately unlike most art galleries, with no white washed walls, instead there is a labyrinth like dark underground complex. There is no signage by artworks, instead you use an iPhone with headphones in a far more involving and effective manner than the usual enter a number and hear a short audio clip. This amount of information made it more tiring than usual gallery wandering so though, allow plenty of time and energy to explore.