tiny capital is smaller than the suburb of an American suburb
Australians mock Tasmania and along with it, Hobart, its tiny capital.
40% of Tasmanians make Hobart their home, which isn't saying
much since Tasmania, as of this writing, has only a half a
No one is going to lie, particularly myself, that Hobart
is a booming capital full of the hippest nightlife in
Australia. It's a small, clean town, a throwback to
what I think small town America must've been in the 1940's
and 1950's. It's the sort of place you feel you could
leave the keys in your car as you go about your errands.
Warning: DON'T do that! It feels like
you could, but if you actually went ahead and tested the
hypothesis, you might feel exactly like you just got your
What sets Hobart away from small-town America
or small-town Australia is its sophistication. Many of
Hobart's current residents are relocatees from the
Australian mainland's capital cities looking for a slower
pace of life with cleaner air. They open up high-end
restaurants and chic cafes you wouldn't see in places like
Geraldton (WA) or Whyalla (SA). Nor would you find
Indian restaurants and groceries stocking Asian foods in
hick country towns, would you? Or symphony orchestras
-- Hobart has one. And the graffiti! The
insightful mocking of the then U.S. president was truly
world class, worthy of a town three times Hobart's size.
Only in a capital would you get
graffiti this detailed
weekends, the Salamanca Market is active in the way you think of
small-town farmer's markets, but since it's a capital city, with
higher-end produce and wider variety.
A ten minute drive away from Hobart is the
Cascade Brewery. Equivalently, it's a 40 to 90 minute journey,
depending upon if you walk there or crawl there. My German
friend and I walked in and crawled out. The tour of Australia's
oldest brewery ended with samples at their in-house bar. We were
given three vouchers each, but as the bartender failed to collect our
vouchers every time with so many other patrons present, those three vouchers could
just as well have been thirty. Not all beverages made at the
brewery are available outside Tasmania. The Mercury Black-label
cider, the fourth in the Mercury line, this one found only in Tassie,
was what did us in. We bought a six-pack to go, stumbled into a
park at Battery Point, and drifted off into a haze of drunken idiocy.
Doing the same is highly recommended!
Nearby Mt. Wellington gets lots of hip looks from the locals. It
has to. Most of Hobart is constructed upon Wellington's
foothills. Out-of-shape hikers can claim this one a victory before
departure. It's only 4,170 ft high.
New Zealand and Hobart serve as major ports for Antarctic operations.
The French and Aussies prefer the chic aura Hobart gives off (the
Tasmanian wines don't hurt) and base their Antarctic operations here.
My memories of Hobart are fond ones. Pizzas in the parks,
strolls along the restored shophouses on the waterfront. For the
moment, Hobart couldn't be safer. It's unlikely you'll be
walking around at 3 AM, but if you are, the muggers should already be in
The Hobart suburb of Claremont got its name on the map by being the
location for the Cadbury (Australia) factory tour, which exports
average-tasting chocolate throughout the Southern Hemisphere and to Southeast Asia.
The free tours are now a thing of the past. One has the
option to go on a lame visit to the Visitor Center at a current cost of
AUD 7.50 per adult and AUD 17.50 for an average-sized family.
By all accounts, the 'experience' is something you'd get free at other
chocolate factories, and the prices at the retail shop are nothing to
scream about. Save your money and buy a Cadbury bar at a local
grocery. Or better yet, consider a
By Tasmanian standards, accommodation in Hobart is
steep. Prices for one bed in a 12-bed dorm were
almost equivalent to getting a pub room all to
myself elsewhere in Tasmania. On the same day
I was driving into Hobart, a German friend, known as Super
Kay in VIP circles, whom I met several months earlier in Laos, was
arriving on the
Spirit of Tasmania ferry in Devonport, then
catching a bus to Hobart to meet me. The plan was
that I'd pull into Hobart around noon, get us a
double room, and call his cell phone with the
hotel/hostel name and address. I, at
that point, did not have a cell phone, hard as I
find that to believe now.
Parking in the Hobart central business district
is not easy. I had to park my
car next to a meter and come back to it every hour. Fortunately, Hobart central is small
and walking from one end to the other can be done in
less than twenty minutes. All the bargain
accommodation was close to each other. I
didn't think Hobart would be so touristed on the low
end to have to pre-book a room.
Super Kay didn't care if we slept in miserable
12-bed dorms for AUD 20-22 per night per person, a
staple in Tasmania and the rest of Australia.
I'm anti-dorm at my age. My objective was to
secure us a double room and some piece of mind.
At that time, single rooms at most of these grungy
low-end hostels were AUD 50. The same room, if
slept in by two, was AUD 55.
Supplies of single/double rooms were quite limited
or hostels, with low capacity, were completely
booked out. With some effort, I managed to
secure us a claustrophobic room in the
I rang Super Kay on his cell phone and told him we
were in room number three. I took a nap,
toured town, and returned to the room near 5 PM.
No Super Kay. I rang him again. He
was at an internet cafe in the center of town.
Two hours passed, then three. No Super
Kay. I could've called him again, but by
this time I was super pissed. Couldn't
Super Kay have given me the consideration to blow me
off like a man? Did he have to blow me off
like plenty a girl from my past had?
The next morning, hostel staff knocked on my door
and said I had a phone call from Super Kay. He
was on his way with a story too unusual to be made
The taxi driver had driven him from the central mall
to a backpacker lodge. Super Kay asked at
reception if an
American named Doug was in room 3. They said
there was, and he immediately checked in. It
was a four-bed dormitory. No one else was in
the room, and Super Kay waited around for hours for
At 11 PM, Doug showed up, but it wasnt me.
Super Kay was staying at another
hostel down the street from my own, with a similar
name, with another Doug, another American, in
another room #3! The next morning, he awoke
early and corrected his mistake.
I only stayed two nights at this shoebox, and it was
probably as good as I was going to get for the price
we paid. Since my stay there, prices
have climbed 20% in AUD terms. Hostels can
charge these prices and get away with it, much like
the rest of Oz, because there is no value on hotel
accommodation in Hobart's CBD. A compact
(i.e. anchovy can style) double room at a lower end
hotel will cost at least AUD 125. If you want value
for money, get out of town.