Things to do - general

Hobart is the capital and most populous city of the Australian island state of Tasmania. With a population of approximately 225,000, it is the second least populated Australian capital city. Founded in 1804 as a penal colony, Hobart is Australia’s second oldest capital city after Sydney, New South Wales. The modern history of Hobart (formerly “Hobart Town”, or “Hobarton”) dates to its foundation as a British colony in 1804. Prior to British settlement, the area had been occupied for possibly as long as 35,000 years, by the semi-nomadic Mouheneener tribe, a sub-group of the Nuennone, or South-East tribe. The descendants of the indigenous Tasmanians now refer to themselves as ‘Palawa’.

Since its foundation as a colonial outpost, the city has grown from the mouth of Sullivans Cove to stretch in a generally north-south direction along both banks of the Derwent River, from 22 km inland from the estuary at Storm Bay to the point where the river reverts to fresh water at Bridgewater. Hobart has experienced both booms and busts over its history. The early 20th century saw a period of growth on the back of mining, agriculture and other primary industries, and the loss of men who served in world wars was counteracted by an influx of immigration after World War II. In the later years of the 20th century, migrants increasingly arrived to settle in Hobart from Asia. Despite the rise in migration from parts of the world other than the United Kingdom and Ireland, the population of Hobart remains predominantly ethnically Anglo-Celtic and has the highest percentage per capita of Australian-born residents among the Australian capital cities.

In June 2016, the estimated greater area population was 224,462. The city is located in the state’s south-east on the estuary of the Derwent River, making it the most southern of Australia’s capital cities. Its harbour forms the second-deepest natural port in the world. Its skyline is dominated by the 1,271-metre (4,170 ft) kunanyi/Mount Wellington, and much of the city’s waterfront consists of reclaimed land. It is the financial and administrative heart of Tasmania, serving as the home port for both Australian and French Antarctic operations and acting as a major tourist hub, with over 1.192 million visitors in 2011/2012. The metropolitan area is often referred to as Greater Hobart, to differentiate it from the City of Hobart, one of the five local government areas that cover the city.


Hobart serves as a focal point and mecca for tourism in the state of Tasmania. In 2016, Hobart received 1.8 million visitors, surpassing both Perth and Canberra, tying equally with Brisbane.

The Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens is a popular recreation area a short distance from the city centre. It is the second-oldest Botanic Gardens in Australia and holds extensive significant plant collections.

Hadley’s Orient Hotel, on Hobart’s Murray Street, is the oldest continuously operating hotel in Australia.

kunanyi/Mount Wellington, accessible by passing through Fern Tree, is the dominant feature of Hobart’s skyline. Indeed, many descriptions of Hobart have used the phrase “nestled amidst the foothills”, so undulating is the landscape. At 1,271 metres, the mountain has its own ecosystems, is rich in biodiversity and plays a large part in determining the local weather.

The Tasman Bridge is also a uniquely important feature of the city, connecting the two shores of Hobart and visible from many locations. The Hobart Synagogue is the oldest synagogue in Australia and a rare surviving example of an Egyptian Revival synagogue.


Hobart is known for its well-preserved historic architecture, much of it dating back to the Georgian and Victorian eras, giving the city a distinctly “Old World” feel.[38] For locals, this became a source of discomfiture about the city’s convict past, but is now a draw card for tourists.[39] Regions within the city centre, such as Salamanca Place, contain many of the city’s heritage-listed buildings. Historic homes and mansions also exist in the suburbs.

Kelly’s Steps were built in 1839 by shipwright and adventurer James Kelly to provide a short-cut from Kelly Street and Arthur Circus in Battery Point to the warehouse and dockyards district of Salamanca Place.[40] In 1835, John Lee Archer designed and oversaw the construction of the sandstone Customs House, facing Sullivans Cove. Completed in 1840, it was used as Tasmania’s parliament house, and is now commemorated by a pub bearing the same name (built in 1844) which is frequented by yachtsmen after they have completed the Sydney to Hobart yacht race.

Hobart is also home to many historic churches. The Scots Church (formerly known as St Andrew’s) was built in Bathurst Street from 1834–36, and a small sandstone building within the churchyard was used as the city’s first Presbyterian Church. The Salamanca Place warehouses and the Theatre Royal were also constructed in this period. The Greek revival St George’s Anglican Church in Battery Point was completed in 1838, and a classical tower, designed by James Blackburn, was added in 1847. St Joseph’s was built in 1840. St David’s Cathedral, Hobart’s first cathedral, was consecrated in 1874.

Country Australia
Languages spokenEnglish
Currency usedAustralian dollar
Area (km2)1357.3 km²

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