Uncover Hobart’s Fascinating History
If you are a history buff, you can have a great time in Hobart. Like so many cities in Australia, the Tasmanian capital, started life as a British penal colony.
This fascinating city is the second oldest capital city in Australia. So, it actually has a relatively long history and there is plenty to do and see in and around the area. You just need to hire a car and ready to explore!
Take a historic walking tour
Taking a history-themed walking tour is a great way to start your stay. Doing so, gives you a chance to get your bearings and identify those sites that you would like to spend more time exploring. The city’s tour guides are very experienced and passionate about their subject. So, you will learn a lot just by taking the tour.
As you already know Hobart grew out of the convict colony that was established by the British. So, naturally, quite a few of the city’s important sights are related to that period of the area’s history.
Hobart’s Convict Penitentiary
This convict penitentiary is located right in the heart of Hobart. It is an extremely well-preserved complex that includes a chapel, courtrooms, underground tunnels, solitary cells and the Gallows.
You can tour the facility during the day or take the evening ghost tour. The convict film experience is also well worth taking the time to see.
Cascade’s Female Factory
The Cascade’s Female Factory is a former workhouse. It was where female convicts were sent between 1828 and 1856. The living history tour at this site is particularly interesting. Taking it gives you a good appreciation of just how stark the living conditions were.
Runnymede is a well-preserved property that is located just 8 minutes from the center of Hobart. The elegant homestead was built in the 19th century and was the home of a whaling captain and, later, a bishop. It is now used to promote marine conservation. Many of the artifacts you will see during your visit relate to maritime history and are a reflection of the original owner’s interests.
This well preserved Victorian country house was built in the Neo-classic style. It is one of the largest examples of this type of house, in Australia.
There are several tours available including a fascinating behind the scenes tour and the stateroom tour. However, these are not held every day. So, if you want to visit this historic house you will need to plan well ahead. All of the tours are listed on the govhouse website, which means that this is relatively easy to do.
Visit Salamanca Place
This area of Hobart was built in the 1830s. You can still see the sandstone warehouses that were used for storing fruit, grain, whale oil, wool and goods that were imported from elsewhere. Today, the warehouses are home to dozens of restaurants, shops, pubs and galleries. So, you get to indulge your love of food and shopping as well as learn about the area’s history.
From there, you can take Kelly’s steps up to Battery Point, which is even older than Salamanca Place. Some of the houses in that part of the city have remained unchanged since the early part of the 17th century.
While you are there try to find the time to pop into the Narryna Heritage Museum. This small museum provides you with a fascinating insight into the way the professional class used to live during colonial times.
If all that walking has made you thirsty, treat yourself to a visit to the Cascade Brewery. It is Australia’s oldest brewery. The tour is very interesting and you get the chance to taste the fine beer. You also get a photo personalized beer label as a memento of your visit.
Right from the start Constitution Dock was vital for the settlers living in the area. This part of Hobart has many interesting historic buildings for you to see and enjoy. Today, it is a bustling part of the city with several nice shops, bars and restaurants for you to enjoy as you explore the area.
The May Queen Ketch
While visiting Constitution Dock it is well worth taking the time to visit the May Queen. This sailing vessel is Australia’s oldest sail trading vessel. The ketch was built in 1867 and it has been lovingly restored. You can get a good view from the dock, but at certain times you are able to go onboard to take a look around. The boat is part of the Maritime Museum of Tasmania, so you can easily give them a ring, or check online, to find out what times of the day onboard visits are available, during your stay.
Visit some of the city’s wonderful museums
For a relatively small city, Hobart offers a fantastic range of museums. They are great places for history lovers.
The Tasmanian Transport Museum
This museum provides a fantastic insight into how the transport network helped the area develop and grow at such a fast rate. Unusually you are able to interact with most of the exhibits. So, if you want to, you can clamber inside the trains and other vehicles and have a good poke around.
The Army Museum of Tasmania
This relatively small museum packs a lot in. If you are a fan of military history spending a morning or afternoon here is a must.
Using Hobart as a jumping off point
Hobart is reasonably close to several of Tasmania’s other important historical sites. Provided you are there for long enough, you can easily enjoy a few interesting day trips.
Spend a day in Richmond
For example, you could visit Richmond. It is only a 25-minute drive from Hobart and there are plenty of tour companies offering organized trips to the town. The local Goal, timber mazes, traditional tea rooms and famous bridge are all worth a look. You can easily spend the whole day there. But, provided you are organized, you can see most of the important sites in just a morning or afternoon.
Visit the Port Arthur Historic Site
Port Arthur is just a 90-minute drive from Hobart and there is a daily shuttle service. Or, if you prefer, you can book yourself on one of the many organized coach tours that are available.
This historic site is the best preserved penal colony, in Australia. Many of the buildings are still largely intact and all areas of the complex are accessible. So, visitors to Port Arthur can see how the convicts were dealt with on arrival and during their imprisonment.
If you want to you can take the trek to see the Point Beur Boy’s Prison and the Isle of the Dead. There is also a ghost tour.
Pause and enjoy the beauty of the area
History is great, but, every now and again it is good to take a break from touring interesting buildings and looking at artifacts or exhibitions. It would be a shame for you to stay in Hobart without taking at least one day out to experience the natural beauty of the area.
The city is within easy reach of several National Parks and pristine valleys. One of the best places to head for is the Huon Valley. The area pulls in outdoor adventure lovers and hikers, from across the globe.
There are several ways to see and experience what this valley has to offer. One of the most popular ways is the Tahune walkway, which is a series of rope walkways strung over the top of the Eucalyptus forest. Another option is to take a boat trip or kayak along the river.
Just the tip of the iceberg
As you can see, there is plenty for history lovers to enjoy while staying in Hobart. But, to be honest, the above is just the tip of the iceberg. Hobart has a lot more to offer you if you love history. You could easily make several trips to the area and still not see everything that is available. Hobart really is a fascinating travel destination.
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