TUCKED away in the southern-most point of the island state of Tasmania, Hobart is a diverse little capital city that oozes charm. With a population of 220,000 Hobart sits at the foot of Mount Wellington and on the banks of tranquil Derwent River. For a smaller capital city, it's overflowing with a range of attractions for visitors whether it be its soul-soothing seaside lifestyle, world heritage wilderness, enchanting valleys, unspoilt Gregorian and Victorian architecture or alluring boutique wineries nearby.
Its old-world charm and deep sense of history is what makes Hobart stand out amongst the mainland of Australia's other capitals and there are countless attractions - it packs a punch in the world of travel and tourism, whether it's a tour of a Cascade Brewery, a visit to Salamanca Place for one of the world's best markets or exploration and play at Mount Wellington, Seven Mile Beach and Sandy Bay. Then there's a plethora of museums and galleries, Botanical Gardens, the Cadbury Chocolate Factory and chilling Louisa's Walk, where you can go back in time and discover the life of a convict woman.
One important thing to remember about Hobart when you jump in a hire car or campervan thanks to DriveNow is that there's an endless supply of adventure, sites and holiday experiences in every direction.
Hobart's inauspicious beginnings were indeed harsh and quite brutal in comparison with the early days of other world capital cities. The original inhabitants were the Aborigines who had been part of the island for more than 20,000 years and were wiped out so quickly much of their history hasn't been documented.
In 1642 explorer Abel Tasman sought trading opportunities and named the region Van Diemens Land after one of his trading company's bosses. It was changed to Tasmania in honour of him much later on.
The first official settlement, however, was in 1803 when it was set up as a penal colony by the British who were getting paranoid about the presence of French explorers sniffing around at the time. Named after Lord Robert Hobart, the British secretary of state for the colonies, a site was set up where it is now known as Risden. After Captain David Collins came back from exploring Port Philip Bay in Victoria (which he deemed unsuitable for settlement! - now home to Melbourne), he returned to Van Diemens Land, took charge and moved everyone to Sullivan's Cove where he founded Hobart town.
The worst kind of prisoners were sent to Port Arthur Penal Settlement on the outskirts of Hobart in 1830, the perfect place because its isolation meant escape was all but impossible, as well as Sarah Island and Maria Island. Convict relocation was abandoned in 1856. Proclaimed a city in 1842 after the rapid development of industry due to the Derwent River being one of the world's best deep water harbours, many merchants made their money from whaling, fishing, ship building and exporting.
Ever since, Hobart has blossomed with a new casino Wrest Point (built in the 1970s), a boom in tourism largely due to its vast array of natural attractions including wilderness, wineries and beach sites and popular little nearby hamlets steeped in history.
HOBART is renowned for being a seafood lovers' heaven obviously due to a busy port on the doorstep of the city. Oysters are a specialty, so too lobster, blue eye trevalla, Atlantic salmon, scallops, mussels, and freshwater fish such as trout caught in the streams inland. Add to that world-class nearby wineries that unearth classic pinots, chardonnays, sauvignon blancs and combine it with locally made cheeses and fresh fruit, including summer berries, apricots, pears and apples from southern orchards, and you have quite a smorgasbord of locally grown goodies to sink your teeth into.
The premier restaurant in Tasmania, let alone Hobart, in our opinion. Spectacular views with the Derwent lapping at your feet enhances the experience which includes wood-fired oven treats to try like pizzas and breads and house-smoked pork and oysters. The seafood is a highlight, but so too are other dish varieties and an extensive, classy wine list.
Come away from this popular eatery and tell us this isn't one of the best fish'n'chippery experiences you've encountered? Situated in Elizabeth St Pier in Sullivan's Cove, enjoy a cool drink at the bar while you wait or soak up some sunshine while you dine al fresco style. Open every day and it truly must be experienced.
For the best Italian in old Hobart town, book your table early at Da Angelo's because it's usually difficult to beat everyone else to it! Indulge in these southern Italian delights which include magnificent pastas and pastas made fresh on the premises.
Hobart's premier shopping malls include Elizabeth Street Mall and Centrepoint. Elizabeth Street Mall contains major shopping department stores such as Target and Harris Scarfe as well as boutique stores, bookshops, cafes, shoe shops and much more. Centrepoint is in the heart of Hobart and has over 30 stores based around a food court.
Trafalgar on Collins is a shopping arcade and multi-deck car park and features clothing, hair and beauty, cafes, jewellery stores and hair salons. Best of all is Trafalgar Car Park, which is one of the most convenient parking spots in Hobart.
Salamanca Place is the point of difference that Hobart offers on the shopping front, with a diverse range of shops and boutiques to investigate. There is also one of Australia's most famous markets (see below) held here amid gorgeous surrounds.
Also keep in mind Hobart has an endless supply of antiquarian and second-hand shops scattered throughout. Check out the Antiques Market in the heart of town in Elizabeth St which houses two floors of antiques, art and collectibles including furniture, jewellery, glassware and artwork.
Salamanca Market in Salamanca Place is the signature marketplace of Tasmania, let alone Hobart. Considered the city's premier tourist attraction, it's held every Saturday from 8.30am to 3.30pm and thousands of people flock there for the food, entertainment, eclectic stalls and entertainment. Hundreds of stalls go for hundreds of metres either side of the street that is lined with elm trees. Lots of grass area makes it perfect for a picnic. Also check out the renovated sandstone buildings that have been converted to funky cafes and galleries.
Island Market is an indoor market boasting the local region's produce and arts and crafts. It's located in Moonah and is fast becoming one of the city's best markets.
Hobart Showground Sunday Market is another option that is chock-full of glassware and ceramics, restored furniture, arts and crafts, second-hand clothing, tools and books. But one of its highlights is the vast range of home-made cakes, jams and chutneys - something to sink your teeth into.
There's no shortage of fun and entertaining things to do in Hobart from day tours to such attractions as a Cadbury Chocolate Factory or Cascade Brewery to some serious dance action at one of several nightclubs or hotels in town.
Some of the hotspots for partying after dark include Salamanca Place, North Hobart and Sandy Bay. There are venues for all types and tastes, from pubs on the waterside and bars rocking on with local bands, Irish pubs and dance clubs. Try Wrest Point Casino for a dabble, drink and a dance and if your entertainment taste extend to theatre make sure you check out one of Australia's oldest working theatres Theatre Royal.
If it's simply a good movie you're looking for then Hobart has plenty of options including the Village Seven city complex for some mainstream flicks that have just lobbed on the big screen. For something a little left of centre on the art house front head to the State Cinema where you can kick back and relax with a coffee or something stronger while you enjoy the screening.
Car & Campervan Rental
Perhaps the prettiest and quietest corner of Australia, Tasmania has so much to offer visitors from the markets, sights, sounds and vibrancy of Hobart to the serenity of Cradle Mountain and one of the best ways to explore the Apple Isle is with a hire car or even perhaps take your bed with you in a Campervan rental. Distances aren't great and there's plenty to discover. DriveNow makes it easy to find and compare the best rates, deals and vehicles from all Tasmania's leading car rental suppliers - view the results on a single straightforward page in an uncomplicated easy-to-follow format. Simply search, compare and book your car or campervan hire with DriveNow prior to your Tassie trip and the rest is easy once you arrive at one of the car rental pick up points in Hobart, at Hobart Airport or anywhere across the island.
Quite famous for its older style B&Bs, Hobart has a variety of accommodation options to suit budget travellers up to five star luxury seekers. Try www.roomsnow.com.au as a starting point for some great last minute deals to complement your last minute car or campervan hire with DriveNow.