Hobart, voted by Lonely Planet in their Best Travel 2013 guide as a top 10 global destination, is Australia’s second-oldest city with both a rich colonial heritage and natural charms that are complemented by great festivals and a blossoming food and wine culture.
Rising above the city is Mt Wellington, a wild and rugged monolith perfect for mountain and bushwalking. And below the mountain, the Derwent River links Hobart to its maritime past. Every February the Royal Hobart Regatta fills the historical expanse of water with boats of all kinds. Sailing on graceful tall ships is possible year-round, while in January, some of the world’s fastest yachts arrive in Hobart to complete the blue water classic Sydney to Hobart yacht race. Charmingly, square-riggers can still be seen regularly on the river, tacking among all the more modern vessels.
At Salamanca Place, you’ll find rustic 19th-century waterfront warehouses that house cafés, restaurants, galleries and art studios. It’s the prefect place to wander or enjoy alfresco dining. It’s also the scene, every Saturday, of the famous Salamanca Market.
Hobart’s busy arts scene is also on display at the Salamanca Arts Centre and surrounding warehouses.
Immerse yourself in Tasmania’s history and contemporary life at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery on Macquarie Street. And the already world-famous Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) is just 15 minutes from downtown Hobart. Why not drive, or cruise upriver for a truly unique experience.
Hobart dining is perhaps defined by the abundance of the fresh ingredients found at its doorstep. The superb produce, particularly when it comes to seafood, is used to create dishes of extraordinary quality and sophistication. Prepare to indulge in some of the best oysters, crab, crayfish, salmon, and trout in the world.
Hobart's restaurants range from upmarket silver service to casual cafés and are generally concentrated around Sullivans Cove and in North Hobart's Elizabeth Street. There, you’ll discover variety of culinary experiences, all showcasing the best produce Tasmania has to offer.
The inner city pubs of Hobart and North Hobart are famous for their live music and entertainment. Some are boisterous taverns, others more sedate, but all are popular and crowded.
If, however, you like your music a little more refined, catch a performance of the world-renowned Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra at the Federation Concert Hall. Check out a chamber music performance in one of the vineyards, or perhaps an old-time crooner at Wrest Point.
Hobart is also the gateway to the joys of southern Tasmania, one of the island’s most intriguing regions, with most of its delights no more than an hour or two’s drive from the Hobart central business district.
Travelling north from Hobart to the historic town of Richmond, you’ll follow the Coal River Valley, which is dotted with cool-climate vineyards. Other popular wine routes include the Derwent Valley, which takes you through the glorious Mt Field National Park and the Huon Valley, also renowned for its fresh produce.
Venture down the Tasman Peninsula and within an hour you’ll be at one of Australia’s most significant heritage sites, Port Arthur. There, tales of convicts come alive by lantern light after dark.
On your way, be sure not to miss the Tasmanian Devils at Taranna, and take in the breathtaking coastal rock formations or drive slowly through quirky ‘Doo Town’.
South of Hobart, you can cruise off Bruny Island beneath more of the world’s highest sea cliffs, or drive north to Oatlands, to explore Australia’s largest collection of sandstone buildings.
Farther afield, why not venture to the Scottish pioneer town of Bothwell, home of the oldest golf course in the southern hemisphere. Not to mention a very fine whiskey distillery.