Tasmania used to be the brunt of many jokes by their fellow mainlanders, but now it’s Tasmanians who are having the last laugh. This small island state lying off the tail end of Australia is turning out to be quite the getaway. And Hobart, the capital, is stealing the show.
Sitting pretty at the foot of Mount Wellington on the Derwent River, Hobart is Australia’s most southerly capital. Once a quiet backwater, this creative capital came into its own when MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) gallery opened in 2010. Intrigued interstaters who came to investigate discovered Hobart’s thriving arts scene, along with a blossoming food and wine industry showcasing the state’s local produce.
There is a good range of accommodation in Hobart to suit all budgets and tastes, from luxury art hotels to budget hostels. The most recent artsy addition is Ibis Styles Hobart, which is set to receive a five-star Green Building Council of Australia certification for sustainability.
Getting around the city centre is fairly easy, but it’s a sprawling city so it’s a good idea to venture further than the main centre to see it all. This month, I’ve teamed up with AccorHotels to bring you 5 different ways to explore Hobart that will allow you to get a real feel for the place.
Considering Hobart is known for its thriving arts scene, it would seem fitting to start off your tour of the city with Artbikes. Available five days a week from Rosny Barn on Hobart’s eastern shores, Artbikes allows art lovers to easily access the myriad cultural attractions in the city. Their Dutch-style bikes are designed by Vanmoof and come with a helmet, lock and cultural map.
For those seeking some adventure, Under Down Under tours take cyclists up to the summit of Mount Wellington. After taking in the views from the peak, the cycle group sets off on a 21km downhill bike ride back to Hobart’s waterfront.
If sedate sightseeing is more your thing, Derwent Bike Hire rent bikes by the hour or day. They also offer trailers for children and touring bikes.
It’s hard to beat your feet when it comes to discovering a city. Walking tours allow you to investigate hidden nooks and lanes that other modes of transport can’t reach.
Hobart Historic Walk provides a wonderful insight into the beginnings of the city and Tasmania. Hear fascinating stories about some of the characters that called Hobart home, and learn about the city’s heritage listed buildings. Or join a pub tour of Hobart to regale in the city’s old stories at some choice drinking establishments in the city.
Once you’ve soaked up the city’s history, seek out Gourmania Food Tours to learn about the local food and wine produce. This walking tour is a flavour-filled tasting tour of the food stalls and eateries around Salamanca Place and central Hobart.
And if you’re on a budget, there’s always Hobart’s free walking tour, led by locals.
See another side of Hobart – from the water – on a 2.5 hour guided kayak tour around Hobart’s waterways. Named after the prevailing winds at Hobart’s latitude, the Roaring 40s Kayak Tour takes rowers from Sandy Bay past Battery Point and into Hobart Docks. After a lunch of fish and chips, eaten in your kayak, you oar back past the sights to Sandy Bay.
If you’d like to spend more time on the river, the River Derwent Rapid Kayaking Tour starts only 50 mins from Hobart’s CBD at historic Hawthorn Lodge in Bushy Park. On this half-day tour, rowers paddle down the Derwent over Grade 2 rapids while taking in views of the impressive Wellington Mountain Range.
“There is nothing half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”
~ Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows
Tasmania has a rich maritime past and present. The Sydney to Hobart yacht race is one of the biggest fixtures in the world’s sailing calendar attracting sailors of all levels who want to sail the gruelling 628 nautical mile course. Visitors to the city can get a taste of life on the water in more ways than one, without all the blood, sweat and tears.
Board luxury racing yacht Helsal IV and enjoy a leisurely sail around Hobart on a 3-hour or full day cruise. Owned and operated by Tasmanians Mark and Marsha Stranger, this 62 foot cruiser racer has a few Sydney to Hobart races notched up and offers the thrill of open-ocean sailing alongside the creature comforts of gourmet food and wine.
A replica of Lady Nelson, one of the first colonial ships to land in Tasmania, offers 90 minutes trips around the harbour. Or you can join the crew of the Windeward Bound, a two-masted, four square sail tall ship, Tasmania’s largest. Enjoy a day’s sailing and learning the ropes on this beautifully hand crafted wooden sailing ship. Lunch is provided and if you’re lucky you may see a dolphin or two playing of the breakwater.
Cruises generally run through summer, some have a winter schedule. Sailing times vary and are dependent on the weather.
Par Avion Wilderness Tours offer 20 minute-long scenic helicopter flights above Hobart, or you can indulge yourself in a 30-minute plane tour above the city. Departing from Cambridge Airport, the flight path takes you over the Eastern Shore and across the Derwent River, seeing the Tasman Bridge, MONA and Mount Wellington.
For a real treat, Par Avion also offer a 6-hour Southwest Wilderness Experience leaving from Hobart. After taking in a tour over the capital, the plane heads down the D’Entrecasteaux Channel to Tasmanian’s most southerly tip, South East Cape. Landing at Bathhurst Harbour, here you will experience true wilderness – the nearest civilisation is 7 days walk away. A guided tour along the Needwonnee Walk offers an aboriginal interpretive experience, which shares the 40,000-year history of the original inhabitants of this land.
How to get there
There are daily flights into Hobart from all over Australia with Jetstar, Virgin Blue or Qantas, but eco travellers may like to take the overnight ferry to the island, time permitting.
The Spirit of Tasmania sails daily from Melbourne, depending on the weather, and takes 9-11 hours. It docks in Devonport, northern Tasmania, so if you’ll need to hire a car or arrange transport to get down to Hobart. There are a few different driving routes to Hobart, all of them pretty spectacular.
To discover more about AccorHotel’s Planet 21 initiative and their key achievements to date, head to Accor’s sustainable development page. It relays what the company are doing in terms of ecodesign, sustainable food options and how they help fight against the sexual exploitation of children.
Lead image :: via Par Avion