Hobart in Winter is not for the faint-hearted. Icy winds and single-digit temperatures (Celsius) frame an otherwise sunny day with frost.
So what takes a lover of 40 plus degrees so near the Antarctic? – The knowledge that we’d not spent enough time there last year, when we travelled Tasmania, and cheap direct flights from Adelaide! Our aversion for the cold limited our visit and maximised our planning. Normally preferring to drive, we read up on the hazards of driving in Tasmania in Winter – snow, black ice, sudden weather changes (true all year) and decided to walk and catch public transport.
From the airport, we caught the airport shuttle for $20 each, which took us to our accommodation, although this wasn’t one of the stops. We caught a public bus to Richmond, which was about $15 (for two) each way. Fares are cheaper after 9 and before 3. I downloaded MetroTas on my phone so that I could see what was available at any time and plan our trips, and we could have got a green card which is a transport card, which means reduced fares. Weekend services are not as frequent. Most of our travel was on foot, however, and the signage and street maps are amazing. As there are no footpaths for highways, make sure you get an underpass.
PLACES TO VISIT
Salamanca Place is interesting, varied, accessible. We’re told the markets on a Saturday are great but we’ve always missed them. There is a large square with a fountain, where kids could run a bit, art, shopping, bars…
Kelly’s steps are located in Salamanca and these lead to Battery Point. James Kelly was a sailor and at the time he built the steps, in 1839, they were part of a cliff that overlooked the Cove. The buildings on the wharf were made of the stone from the cliffs (courtesy of Wikipedia). We took the steps and did the historic walk: https://tasmania.com/things-to-do/walks/battery-point-historic-walking-tour/ credit to Dale Baldwin, that we could follow on our phones, taking us to historical places in the area. It took about an hour and is inclined from the steps. St George’s was an imposing building, not on the walk but definitely on the horizon and unmissable.
The Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens – an easy half hour walk from Hobart, even in the rain, well-sign-posted. The view and terrain was very pleasant and we went via the Soldiers of the Avenue, a memorial to the soldiers of the Boer War and the two Great Wars and past the gunpowder magazine. It was a good track until just after the sports field, where three choices led to the use of Google maps on our phones and following a narrow, muddy track for the last km. The gardens are not too big and you can probably get around in about an hour.
We took three, with stoppages in the gift shop, Succulent (the cafe), the lily pond, conservatory and the subantarctic plant house.
Richmond is an historical town, not far from Hobart. It boasts the oldest bridge, oldest intact gaol and the oldest Catholic Church in Australia. We arrived around 9.30am, after a 40 min bus ride and left at 1.40pm. We had seen everything, but not visited every shop or gallery. Very interesting. The gaol was $10 entry and the miniature village was $15 (both for adults). We decided against the latter. The courthouse, village square and St. Luke’s Anglican church are all worth a stop. The town is known for the well-preserved Georgian architecture, so enjoy it. Take note of details like the chisel marks, used to create rounded edges on the bridge.
The oldest synagogue in Australia easy to get to, in the city
The waterfront and Hobart’s 200+ year-old piers, and some much younger.
FOOTSTEPS, artwork commemorating the 13 000 female convicts transported to Van Diemen’s Land (name prior to Tasmania) between 1804 and 1854 and the 2000 children they brought with them. Artists John Kelly, Carole Edwards, Joanna Lyngcoln and Lucy Frost.
SELF PORTRAIT – The Bernacchi Tribute. Tasmanian Louis Bernacchi (1876 – 1942) was the first Australian to winter in Antarctica. He left from this point in 1998, with his dog, Joe. The husky also joined him in 1901 when they joined Scott’s Discovery expedition.
HOBART AT NIGHT
Some views and comparisons might lure you into the even colder night air:
PARKS AND CHURCHES
St David’s Cathedral, with artifacts brought from the UK, dating as far back as the 11th Century
St David’s Park
TASMANIAN MUSEUM AND ART GALLERY (free or gold coin donation)
Now, I’m not talking about MONA (museum of old and new art) and you should definitely see that. Had we not seen it, we would have taken a ferry there, with wine and cheese, as recommended by Bridget and Chris, but we had, so…
This original museum houses some interesting displays that have been presented in a very human way. For example, the Tasmanian Tiger, now extinct, has some anecdotal accounts, questions of what if, and photographs. Some children, nearby, could follow the information and were asking their dad some further questions. In the migration section there were pictures of a couple who married by proxy in the 1950s and are still married, today. Real, everyday, history.
We went to the Bond Store Galleries, in the same complex but a different building. It has three levels of history and one was about mental health and incarceration, so be mindful of this if you take children. The stairwell is a piece of art and the walls, showing the results of convicts/prisoners practicing their writing, is sobering. Quite unsettling is the account of white invasion and the terrible things done to the Indigenous people. A provoking exhibition.
Mount Wellington TRY to get the amazing view that we’ve only seen in other people’s pictures. The last visit we went up and fog came in about half way up. This time, we were told that it would be closed if there’s snow, so… no luck. It is an impressive backdrop to Hobart, from whatever angle you catch it, even out of a bus window.
A walk across the road to the local pub for typical pub fare, at pub prices, but supersized. Local beer and “An Englishman”, a chicken Schnitzel with a Yorkshire pud on top. I had a plate of roast Mediterranean Vegetables. Good atmosphere, very big, warm fire, solo guitarist /singer. Other nights, prepared meals in accommodation. Lunches at bakeries and breakfast provided. We ate at the pier one day, to have seafood at Mures, and discovered that which was very nice. However, if you head for Salamanca Place, not far away, you can get a good meal for half the price, under substantial outdoor heaters. The view won’t be so close to the waterfront. There are many, many food possibilities, so do a bit of research with your phone or by foot.
There is a huge range and during winter the rates are very good. We stayed at Argyle Apartments, which had excellent reviews and they weren’t exaggerating. The studio room was spacious and had a huge, comfortable bed. We had a fridge and the usual condiments, with a kettle and a coffee machine. Arriving at night, it was amazing to enter a pre-warmed room and the enclosed balcony had a heater, sofa and table and chairs (and a great view of Wellington). The shared kitchen had a great variety of foods and a microwave for heating/cooking. There was also a stocked fridge, here. The amenities were in a separate corridor, but we had our own toilet/shower room. Great location, central to everything, and they allowed us to store our bags there on the last day and even come back and have tea/coffee while we waited for our shuttle.
We were on the go for a lot of the time, but it’s a good way to stay warm. The town is pretty small and so manageable on foot, or if you are restricted, there is a hop-on, hop-off double-decker bus, for $35 /day or local buses. It only rained the first day and we had sunny, but icy days for the rest.
Loads of charm in Hobart and nearby. Why not see for yourself?
Safe Travels. Take water and a warm scarf and beanie.