The group of settlements at Port Arthur is mainly in ruins today but is still an imposing reminder of Hobart’s origins as a penal colony. The building for the penitentiary was originally built to produce flour in 1843 but was later converted to a prison in 1857. From then on it was able to keep around 500 prisoners under lock and key but much of the complex was destroyed by a fire back in 1897 and it wasn’t until the 1960’s that conservation efforts were put in place. The architecture that remains is still impressive with guided tour available and then visitors are free to explore the buildings that were built by the convicts themselves. Entry includes a cruise of the harbour and dockyards and most tours out to Port Arthur will pick up from Hobart hotels. At night time those that are brave enough can join one of the eerie ghost tours and visitors frequently claim to have heard strange noises coming from around the grounds. At the visitor’s centre it’s even possible to see photographs by people that have managed to capture some of the strange goings on.
The walk relives the story of Louisa Regan a young Irish girl who was caught stealing just a loaf of bread but was sent from London to serve a seven year sentence in Hobart back in 1841. Her life is wonderfully told through two actors dressed in period costume who not only take visitors around the city, but also integrate them as part of the theatre in motion. Louisa’s story is moving enough to bring a person to tears and the journey starts in the Cascade Brewery gardens and works its way to the Female Factory in which Louisa was imprisoned.
Held at Salamanca Place every Saturday the market is a huge thriving place selling all sorts of items. Crafts, clothing, food, music, books and collectibles are all on offer on the endless rows of stalls. The area gets packed whatever the weather and as people browse and shop there’s various entertainment including the notorious Hobart Highland Pipe Band as well as other soloists and musicians. Street artists also perform but the market is famed for its range of Tasmanian produce and for being one of the largest markets in Australia.
Bonorong Park Wildlife Centre
To see native Australian wildlife this is the place to visit. The park is home to the national icon, kangaroos as well as the state’s most famous animal the Tasmanian devil. There are also koalas and wombats and during the tours, which run from 11:30 to 14:00, the Tasmanian devils are fed and the staff relay their detailed knowledge of each species. Visitors can even take part in some feedings but be prepared to be surrounded by dozens of hungry kangaroos as they swarm in for their lunch. Private tours also run at night where animal lovers can get their own time with the wildlife and personally feed wombats, devils, sugar gliders, possums, quolls and wallabies.
Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens
Continuing with nature, the gardens themselves are not only beautiful but they’re also in a scenic spot by the Derwent River and overlooking the Tasman Bridge. Native species and more exotic plants and flowers can be seen in the well kept gardens. The Japanese garden is quietly serene while a unique feature is also the garden of plants that grow in the Antarctic climate. Hobart is often used as a base for expeditions to Antarctica and some of the plants from the region are cultivated in a refrigerated building.
Lek Boonlert is an editor and content reviewer at DirectRooms and is responsible for all Hobart Hotels content.