My plane landed in Hobart airport at 8:40am.
I was here!
I was finally in the lesser known, even less travelled Australian island state of Tasmania. And although I was in Tasmania (affectionately known as Tassie) to do farm work, (second year visa crap) I had hoped to travel a little around the island during my short 3 month stay. But I was on my way to the farm the next morning, so I had 24 hours to check out Hobart and what it had to offer me. 24 hours in the most beautiful, friendly, historic Australian city is by far not enough time, but I made due.
First of all, Hobart’s airport is the most stupidly situated airport in all of Australia. There is no public transportation to get into the city from the airport, instead everyone is filed onto a shuttle bus to take you into the city, costing $18 for a one-way fare. The bus takes around 40 minutes to go over the bridge and into the city, and while I admit it was a gorgeous drive and it’s lovely that it takes you straight to your hostel, I do wish there had been other (read: cheaper) options for getting to the city.
My Hostel of Choice – the YHA
I, being me, hadn’t booked a hostel in advance to arriving in Hobart. I tend to forget that one little tidbit of important travel details, and luckily the YHA Backpackers had a bed available for me (Yay!). The hostel is wonderfully run with amazing staff and clean, small rooms. It’s centrally located just minutes away from the harbour and Salamanca, as well as a Woolworths and the main shopping street. There are bathrooms are on every floor with showers in each one. Yes, you read that right, bathrooms. Plural. No shared, multi-stalled toilet and shower bathrooms, you actually get that small amount of privacy and breathing space. I would stay there again, heck I did stay there again after my Tasmanian Road Trip. For a 4-bedroom female share I ended up paying $36 a night, but if you have a YHA card or book ahead (unlike me) there are cheaper rooms available, as well as full private ones.
The raved about Museum of Old and New Art, the extraordinary museum that people travel all the way to Hobart just to see.
I didn’t go.
No, please, hold your rotten tomatoes and refrain from closing the post before I explain!
So I knew the MONA existed. I was told by everyone to go there, every backpacker, tourist, guide, and the people at the information centre had urged me to go check it out. So at 10am it was my first stop, I wandered down to the ward from the YHA (a five minute walk – win!) and stood in line to book my ferry ticket across the bay to the museum. The ferry was $20 return, which was reasonable I mean that’s what it would charge in Sydney, but when the lady asked if I would like to pre-buy my museum ticket and I nodded, the total came to $45.
$25 to see a freakin art museum! On top of the $20 ferry to take you there! That’s groceries for a week! That’s a hostel and breakfast the next morning! That’s a little excessive.
So I declined. I cancelled. I walked away. I want to go to the MONA, I WILL go to the MONA, just at that moment I didn’t have it in me to pay the full fare… On my way out of Tassie I will go. But I do urge you to go check it out, I mean it is the highlight of Hobart according to everyone I’ve talked to.
So if you’re still reading this and haven’t shut down the webpage because I hadn’t visited the most well-known museum in Australia, then thank you and hello! Alas, there is more to see in Hobart than just the MONA, so lets move on!
Museum of Tasmania
The Museum of Tasmania was definitely worth the stop, especially to people who know little to nothing about Tassie (like me), it was worth stopping just to get a background of the history with Aborginals and the Black War and then all the way to present day relations, as well as learning about all of the native animals – alive, endangered and extinct.
And the best part is, the museum is free! Although I do suggest giving a donation in order to keep it that way for future travellers, tourists and backpackers! Also, it was actually under renovation when I saw it, so they’ve pulled all of the pieces out of the closets to showcase while they change it up.
I was really quite impressed with the exhibits for a free museum!
There are two huge rooms showcasing aboriginal peoples in Tasmania both post and prior to the British landing, including a terrible glimpse into the Black War – the war between the white and the aboriginal peoples. So many aboriginal peoples were brutally murdered, so many children were taken… It took a couple of moments to truly take in and understand the hardships the Tasmanian peoples had to go through to get to where they are today.
There are also, like I said, huge exhibits showing some of the native animals in Tassie, with taxidermied animals and skeletons of Tasmanian Devils, Bush Kangaroos, Wallabies, Pandamelons, snakes, ants, wombats, various birds etc. There is a room dedicated to Tasmania through the ages – showcasing items from the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s etc. There’s a coin room (I didn’t even bother going in), and a lovely art gallery on the top floor. And because Tasmania is so close to Antarctica, the museums also maintains a lovely exhibit about Antarctic exploration, animals, weather, ice and the effects of destruction to the ice – this was a really cool exhibit, especially since Antarctica is the Number One place on my bucket list to visit!
But my favourite part of the entire museum was a room off to the side showcasing the extinct Tasmanian Tiger. What a beautiful creature it was! A medium sized marsupial, almost a mix between a wold and a cat, with 8-10 stripes on its hind end – It’s hard to believe such a creature even existed. For a brief glimpse into how destructive human beings can be to animals and their habitat, the tigers are one of the most modern stories – the last tiger known to be alive died in captivity at the Hobart Zoo in 1936, not even 100 years ago. Through caging for zoos and for pets, being shot on site from farmers protecting their herds, and for their glorious pelt and a bounty on their heads, the tigers are now gone, though there are still people with hopes of their existence and still search for them through the Tassie forests.
Salamanca and Battery Point
After I left the Tasmanian Museum, I wandered only a couple blocks over to an area called Salamanca. Salamanca is a gorgeous little area right beside the warf, housing sandstone built galleries, shops, bars, restaurants and cafes. Walking through Salamanca and up to Battery point (up a couple dozen steps through an alley way) brought me back in time, but also quickly transported me back to Europe. The coffee from these little shops are delicious, Cargo Bar easily makes the best pizza I’ve had so far in Australia, and the cute Made in Tasmania shops is definitely where I will be spending my money on souvenirs for the family back in Canada.
In all honesty you could spend all day here. Enjoying a relaxing breakfast, a little wander through the many art galleries, stop for a coffee or tea in a cafe, a little shopping in and around the little shop corners owned by the locals, a nice and easy fish and chip lunch on the warf, a lovely wander through Battery Point just enjoying the early architecture and deliteful gardens, another coffee break at the top of Battery point before you descend down enjoy the seaside and the fisherman coming into the harbour with their catches, before making your way to a restaurant for dinner and a glass of wine. Oh, and of course a little bar-hopping fun, tasting all of the amazing Tassie wines and enjoying the lively atmosphere as Salamanca swaps over to its nightlife.
My favourite spot in Hobart? I think so.
I had actually never heard of Nelson Point in all my time researching Hobart, everyone seems to go to Mount Wellington (but without a car and without much time, that’s a difficult journey to make) but instead I jumped on the bus winding up and up and up the crazily skinny streets, barely making it past the cars descending back into the city.
The journey to the top takes about a half an hour, but as it’s the last stop it’s really easy to find the right place to get off! And oh my goodness was the ride up worth it. On a clear day you get the most perfect view of all of Hobart, and you’re parallel to the ___ Bridge, making for some amazing photos. With the addition of a lighthouse and some masts, beanie bag chairs and picnic tables strewn around the top of the hill, I could have stayed there just gazing for hours.
There is also a quite expensive but lovely little restaurant up at the top of the hill, and while I didn’t eat there I did enjoy a lovely cup of hot cocoa (I’d had enough caffeine in Salamanca) while watching the landscape transform before my eyes as the sun set. It was literally the best ending to a wonderful day wandering around Hobart, and other than the terrifying ride down (even scarier than the way up) it was well worth the trip.
I know there is much more to see in Hobart than is what in this post – some of these things I know about and never had the chance to get to, while others are completely foreign to me. If you know of any other incredible things in Hobart that I could check out on my way out of Tasmania, I am totally up to suggestions!
And yes I will go to the MONA. Probably.