Considering its modest size of a good 200,000 people, Hobart is a wonderful city for most people: it is not surprising that so many Mainlanders have decided on a “sea-change”, swapping long hours wasted on commuting for a leisurely lifestyle close to work and outdoor recreation down south in Hobart. The city lines both shores of a beautiful drowned river estuary and is backed by bush and mountains.
Hobart has the services and public amenities typical of a State capital and has the second longest European history of any Australian city.
During my 50 years of close connection with Hobart, it has been transformed. Fruit growing and paper-making have declined greatly and education and tourism have taken their place. The University of Tasmania had an enrolment of 2500 during my years there (the mid 1960s), and it now enrols some 12,000. The size and capacity of the Bass Strait crossing aircraft and ferries compared with their 1960s predecessors has increased even more, as have the facilities opened up for visitors to the State.
Here is a sample of what we saw and enjoyed.
The weekly Salamanca Market is on the “to do list” of every visitor to Hobart. It is large, the setting is fabulous, and it offers of lot of Tasmanian products and souvenirs. We picked a very cold and wet Saturday to check it out again. Helen found some “Cox’s Orange” apples which were our favourite of yesteryear. The ones we bought were leftovers and not outstanding!
… so we smothered the apples with a pancake each, with raspberry jam and cream. Mmmm!
Hobart’s Botanical Gardens were designed using British ideas of the 19th century. It is surrounded by brick “Arthur Walls” which were heated (check out the spaced chimneys) to enable the Gardens to display warmer climate plants. The technology didn’t work very well but the walls that face the sun do raise the air temperature a little!
Hobart’s Botanical Gardens were endeared to many gardener Australians through TV host Peter Cundall’s frequently speaking from “Pete’s Patch” there. Peter has left TV now and his Patch is being remodelled for future TV programs.
The importance of tourism is shown by Hobart’s City Council spending millions on a 2.5 km walking path tracing the Hobart Rivulet from the city to the historic Cascade Brewery. It is Australia’s oldest operating brewery, opening in 1824, and producing one of Oz’s favourite drinks.
The River Derwent is like Sydney Harbour a drowned river valley, and both have serve commerce, shipping, and recreation well for over 200 years.
Hobart’s Electrolytic Zinc Works have been refining zinc for 90 years. This engineering complex produces 2.5% of Tasmania’s GDP and supports 1400 workers. It is one of Tasmania’s industrial “survivors” and is dependent on both cheap hydro power and the river for 250,000 tons of exports annually.
A relative newcomer on Hobart’s River Derwent, Robert Clifford’s InCat started building and operating small ferries in 1972 and now builds fast catamaran ferries for service worldwide.
International Catamarans delivered a ferry for lake service in Central Africa while we were in Hobart. Then they began testing their largest, fastest, and first gas-powered catamaran ferry yet. The Francisco was built for a Brazilian coastal operator and named “Francisco” to honour the newly chosen Brazilian Pope! Incat’s Hull 069 is 99 m long, displaces 1516 tons, runs on dual fuel, and has a top speed of 58 knots (107 kph) – making it the world fastest ship! I got this photo of a static test of its power on a quiet Saturday.
Hobart’s replica Lady Nelson is a contrast: it takes tourists on short river cruises and models a 1798 built brig which came to Australia to be used for the exploration of Bass Strait and Tasmania which led to the settlement of Hobart and Launceston in 1804.
A second contrast with Incat’s “Francisco” – Hobart loves its wooden boats and celebrates them (large and small) every second year in March.
A 3rd contrasting ship is Aurora Australis, built in 1990 to service Australia’s Antarctic bases and Macquarie Island. It arrived back in June to be serviced and lay up for the southern winter. Australia’s Antarctic and Southern Ocean scientific work is supported by a large and still growing community based in Hobart and suburban Kingston.
France’s l’Astrolabe is smaller than Aurora Australis and also based in Hobart to service the French Antarctic interests.