Originally known as Hobart Town, Hobart is Australia's second oldest city (after Sydney), and is beautifully situated on the Derwent River and has preserved much of its elegant colonial Georgian architecture.
Some key places of interest to visitors include:
The Waterfront: Hobart has a waterfront area facing onto the Derwent River that is worth exploring. It is centered on the Franklin Wharf, the Constitution Dock and Victoria Dock. Constitution Dock is where the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race finishes each New Year and the Royal Hobart Regatta takes place there each Feburary.
Salamanca Place: The waterfront at Salamanca Place features a row of attractive sandstone warehouses. They were built back in the 1830s and were the center of the colony's commerce in the 19th century. These days they now house shops, restaurants, galleries and nightclubs. On Saturdays a famous open-air art and crafts market is held here.
Battery Point: From the 1830s this was the centre of the port area with many sailors, shipwrights, fishermen and merchants living and working there. Much interesting architecture remains -- for example, Arthur Circus, St George's Anglican Church, and the Anglesea Barracks (built in 1811, it still used by the Australian Army and is the oldest military establishment in Australia).
Queen's Domain: This green space was originally reserved for the Governor's private use and these days it is used as public parklands and sports fields. On one side is the Royal Tasmanian Botanic Gardens.
Mt. Wellington: Mt Wellington (height 1270m) is a mountain that looks over all of Hobart. You can walk up to the summit or take an taxi to the top and walk back down.
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery: This museum includes exhibitions on Aboriginal life, on life in colonial times, and on the Tasmanian tiger (now believed to be extinct) and on the megafauna (giant marsupials) that once lived in Tasmania.
Cascade Brewery: Australia's oldest brewery and one which still produces some of Australia's finest beer.
We love Hobart but some earlier visitors were not so impressed. Take Charles Darwin, the English biologist, who stopped off in Hobart during his scientific circumnavigation of the world in the H.M.S. Beagle in 1836:
"Late in the evening we anchored in the snug cove, on the shores of which stands the capital of Tasmania. The first aspect of the place was very inferior to that of Sydney; the latter might be called a city, this is only a town. It stands at the base of Mount Wellington, a mountain 3100 feet high, but of little picturesque beauty; from this source, however, it receives a good supply of water. Round the cove there are some fine warehouses and on one side a small fort. Coming from the Spanish settlements, where such magnificent care has generally been paid to the fortifications, the means of defence in these colonies appeared very contemptible. Comparing the town with Sydney, I was chiefly struck with the comparative fewness of the large houses, either built or building. Hobart Town, from the census of 1835, contained 13,826 inhabitants, and the whole of Tasmania 36,505".
Mark Twain, the American writer, writing in his book, More Tramps Abroad (1897), was touched by the scene he saw in Hobart:
"It is an attractive town. It sits on low hills that slope to the harbor--a harbor that looks like a river, and is as smooth as one. Its still surface is pictured with dainty reflections of boats and grassy banks and luxuriant foliage. Back of the town rise highlands that are clothed in woodland loveliness, and over the way is that noble mountain, Wellington, a stately bulk, a most majestic pile. How beautiful is the whole region, for form, and grouping, and opulence, and freshness of foliage, and variety of color, and grace and shapeliness of the hills, the capes, the, promontories; and then, the splendor of the sunlight, the dim rich distances, the charm of the water-glimpses!"
He then goes on to remark that Hobart used to be heaven and hell together, when such a beautiful environment could be a brutal place for the convicts and Aborigines who lived there a few years earlier when Hobart was a penal colony.