One of Hobart's many historic buildings
The island Tasmania that Hobart is located on was discovered
in 1642 by Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, who named it Van Diemen’s
Land after the governor of Batavia, and in 1856 the island was
renamed to Tasmania after its actual discoverer. It is now also
known as The Apple Isle, or simply Tassie as Australians like
to abbreviate everything. Tasmanians are also called Tassies,
Taswegians, or Tasmaniac, and often mainlanders joke about them
inbreeding and being born with two heads because of the small
population base here. For quite a few years this place was thought
to be the tip of the Australian continent until it was discovered
to be an island. Like many places in Australia, it was originally
established as a penal colony, and many of the grand old buildings
you see nowadays are built by convict labour. Thanks to the good
deep water harbour Hobart became a thriving business hub and a
centre for the whaling trade, ship-building and the exports of
corn and wool.
Bridge across the Derwent river connecting Hobart to the north.
Photo by Kimiko Holder
Hobart is the Australia’s second oldest
capital city, the gateway to Antarctica and homeport for Australia’s
only icebreaker, Aurora Australis, and the destination for one
of the world’s toughest blue water classics, the Sydney
to Hobart Yacht Race, which arrives shortly after Xmas turning
the city into a big party zone.
Hobart was also the first city in Australia to have a casino,
this was established in 1973.
Anywhere you walk around Hobart you see history; Arthur's Circus,
a circle of cottages built around a village green, St George's
Anglican Church, and Anglesea Barracks, built in 1811 is the
oldest military establishment in Australia, inside there is
a free museum.
The Van Diemen's Land Folk Museum, located in a historic Georgian
home surrounded by beautiful gardens in Battery Point, is the
oldest folk museum in the country.
Salamanca Place is a row of beautiful waterfront sandstone warehouses
that were the centre of Hobart's trade and commerce in the 1830's.
Nowadays they house shops, cafes, bars and restaurants from
where you can observe the port at work. Markets are held here
every Saturday morning.
The Commissariat Store was built in 1808 and is Hobart's oldest
building, it houses the Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery which
includes Tasmanian Aboriginal relics and a good collection of
Tasmanian colonial art.
Hobart's riverside location ensures plenty of good views.
The original inhabitants of the Hobart area were
the Aboriginal Mouheneer tribe. If you think what happened to
the Aborigines on Australia's mainland during white settlement
was bad wait till you read the story about Tasmania. Tensions
between black and white in the early 1800's rose that high that
the Governor at the time gave soldiers the right to arrest or
shoot on sight any Aboriginal found in an area of European settlement!
From 1820 onwards Aboriginals were relocated to a camp on Bruny
Island where bad conditions and disease reduced their numbers
rapidly until the last Tasmanian full blood Aborigine died in
Nice parking, mate!
Tasmania is well known for its large pristine
wilderness areas, and in the 1960's Hobart became the headquarters
of protest groups determined to prevent the damming of the Franklin
and Gordon Rivers and other significant places. In the 1989
state elections, Tasmania's Green Independents won 18% of the
vote and held the balance of power in parliament until 1998.
There are still environmental groups fighting today to stop
the logging of old-growth forests for Japanese papermills.
Tasmania also used to be home to a now extinct
animal; the Tasmanian tiger. Officially the last one of this
species did in the Hobart Zoo in 1936 but since then people
still have reported regular sightings though nobody ever managed
to come up with a decent quality photograph. Most of the sightings
are usually by owners of Tasmanian wildlife parks (who then
get the name of their park in the newspaper for free) but even
on mainland Australia people have reported sightings, ranging
from Victoria to Western Australia to the jungles of North Queensland.
Due to its southern location Hobart can be cool so most tourists
visit in summer (December to February) when it's warm enough for
swimming and outdoor activities. Winter (June to August) is often
cold, wet and cloudy; spring (September to November) can be very
windy and the hills around Hobart may still get snow. Autumn,
from March to May, is mild.
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