Hobart Accommodation

Hobart, Australia

Hobart is the capital of Tasmania, the heart-shaped island off the south-east coast of Australia.

It's the second-oldest of Australia's state capitals, with a wild convict past and rich history still evident in its beautifully-restored Georgian buildings and colonial cottages. The wide and elegant Derwent River sweeps up from the Southern Ocean to cut Hobart in two, with the main city on the western side and smaller centres and suburbs on the east, while majestic Mt Wellington overlooks the city from the west.

Today on the world map as the home town of the future Queen of Denmark, Princess Mary - who was plain Mary Donaldson before she married Prince Frederick – Hobart is a sophisticated place of fine architecture dating back to the Georgian period, outdoor festivals showcasing the state's arts and a gourmet's paradise of fresh seafood and innovative cuisine.

The charm of Battery Point, the waterfront walks and marinas, the old shot tower and the stately houses of Sandy Bay are all quite seductive. Hobart carries its history well, its isolation having contributed to its underdevelopment. The convict-hewn sandstone buildings of Salamanca Place, once the domain of rough seafarers and prostitutes, then left to dereliction, are now the showcase of the city. Like The Rocks in Sydney, Salamanca Square and Place are beautiful, cultural, functional, and steeped in seedy history.

Now a thriving cultural centre attractive for its unique handcrafts, fresh seafood, maritime atmosphere, historic monuments and spectacular geography, Hobart is the perfect destination for a holiday with a difference. Its stunning harbour, said to be the deepest sheltered harbour in the southern hemisphere, is the destination of the Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race, which leaves Sydney Harbour on Boxing Day and battles often-treacherous seas to reach the island port several days later.

The Port of Hobart occupies the harbour on the eastern side, at Sullivan's Cove, while the greater city spreads northwards and over the river to the east. The inumerable inlets and coves of the harbour and river are dotted with thousands of boats, yachts and pleasure craft of all kinds. Like all the world's great cities, it is Hobart's waterfront and the buildings relating to it that give it its character, history and charm. Today chandleries, shipwrights, customs agents and 'yachties' continue the history laid down by the seafarers, whalers and maritime merchants of the past. Nowadays the city acts as a preparation point for Antarctic expeditions and gateway to the sub-Antarctic islands of the Southern Ocean.

Hobart is Australia's smallest state capital, with not much more than 200,000 inhabitants, and this makes it unhurried and easy to get around. As a base to explore the rest of Tasmania, to hop over to Antarctica or simply to bask at the bottom of the world, it's unsurpassed. The climate is mild and ideal for outdoor activities of all kinds. Daylight saving during summer means long, light evenings for al fresco dining, walking, sailing, tennis, bike riding or whatever takes your fancy.

Visitors may be surprised to learn that Hobart is closer to the Antarctic than it is to Perth in Western Australia. This actually says more about the size of Australia than Hobart's proximity to the ice continent, but nevertheless sometimes the wind whistling up the Derwent estuary feels as if it's come straight from the South Pole. These are the Roaring Forties of maritime legend which plague the southern latitudes.

However picturesque it is now, Tasmania has a bloody history. A convict settlement from 1804, Hobart's first inhabitants were the wretched jetsam of British society: thieves, prostitutes and unfortunates of all descriptions. Among them, however, were skilled tradesmen who lent their talents to designing, building, documenting and decorating Tasmania's built environment, much of which is preserved today in historic sites, still-functioning public buildings, cottages and country houses.

Perhaps the most famous convict landmark, and bloodiest, is Port Arthur. Originally a timber station, Port Arthur acquired infamy as a brutal and repressive penal settlement during the mid-nineteenth century. Tourism flourished in the decades after the removal of the last convict, as the macabre history fascinated visitors. To this day ghosts are said to inhabit this eerie place, while its violent reputation was consolidated by the cold-blooded massacre of thirty-five people in 1996, an event which lead to the tightening-up of Australia's firearms laws.

Australia's convict past is no more evident than in Tasmania. Long suffering the tyranny of distance, not only from the rest of the world, but from the rest of Australia, Tasmania lagged behind in development, with the happy result that many of its historic buildings have remained intact. In Hobart the Salamanca Place warehouses and colonial houses of Battery Point are well-known, but there are public buildings, bridges, country houses, inns and pubs, as well as whole streetscapes of shops and houses all over Tasmania that speak of the past in a way lacking on the mainland.

Tasmanian place names elicit some interest: most are straight from the British Isles, or after dignitaries and royal personages of the day. Not as many as on the mainland are after Aboriginal names. Perhaps because of its isolation at the end of the known world, its brutal penal system, or the desperation of the new inhabitants, many place names evoke the scriptures - Lindisfarne, the Pools of Bethesda, the Walls of Jerusalem, Jericho, Paradise, Promised Land - while others describe the hell that some of the first arrivals must have thought they had come to - Styx Valley, Savage River, Devil's River. Even the unofficial state emblem, the bad-tempered little Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii), has an unholy name.

Time Zone

Hobart's time zone is Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) + 10 hours. This is Australian Eastern Standard Time and is the same as Sydney and Melbourne, half an hour ahead of Adelaide and two hours ahead of Perth. Some states in Australia, including Tasmania, have daylight saving during summer, meaning that from October to late March Hobart's time is GMT + 11 hours. During summer (October to end March) there are five time zones in Australia, and three during winter.

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