Australia is vast and diverse. So is Tasmania, one of Australia’s unique states. Just like in mainland Australia, there’s a lot to see, and with Holland America Line offering an overnight stay here, it’s a bonus that allows you the better part of two days to see the sights and experience the flavor of Tasmania, almost a country of its own. You can fall in love with modern Hobart and also get beyond the city.
Tasmania’s storied past as a penal colony lingers, but natural wonders include wildlife, mountains, rainforests, farmland and craggy coastline. And friendly people. Tasmania has been inhabited for 35,000 years; today’s descendants of early tribes call themselves Palawa.
As the second-oldest city in Australia, Hobart is also the second-least-populated state capital. But it has abundant charms. A half-day tour is ideal for getting your footings, so to speak, but also plan to get out to the country.
The city was built on the Derwent River, site of whaling and seal trade for decades. Hobart was visited by Charles Darwin in 1836 as part of the Beagle expedition. Today, the city sprawls inland from the sea, and is a major shipping center located on one of the world’s premiere deep-water ports.
In the southeast of Tasmania, it’s also the jumping-off place for Antarctic expeditions. Look out to sea, and you can almost visualize the frozen continent — but the South Pole is still more than 3,200 miles distant!
What’s not to miss during your Hobart stay-over? Here are some suggestions:
Visit this gallery, even if art isn’t exactly your thing. MONA is unique — go early and enjoy a breakfast brimming with seafood, including kingfish carpaccio, fresh oysters and scallops at The Source Restaurant.
They’re on the menu for lunch and dinner as well; or stop in after a day of visiting other sights. The wine list features 10,000 bottles from across the globe, or you can have coffee and sweets at the Museum Cafe. The art? Well, let’s just say you’ll be enthralled. Views are spectacular, both inside and out.
You could shop ’til you drop in Hobart, but even if you have no intention of buying, fit in a visit to Salamanca Market — it’s an experience. Every Saturday, more than 300 vendors set up shop at a location near the waterfront.
The colorful tent city of temporary stalls will entice you with bargains on everything from locally made fudge to artistic glass and timber designs, bespoke jewelry, ceramics and leather. It’s a happening not to be missed if your port call is on a weekend.
A home for injured and abandoned wildlife, this is a kids’ favorite. Take a nighttime tour to see Aussie nocturnal animals up close and personal — something you can’t do if you visit Tasmania on any other cruise line!
The park will be closed to the general public and you will enjoy an extremely personal experience as you tour the park and have the opportunity to get up close to the animals. You’ll be fascinated by Tasmania’s native and endemic species, such as devils, quolls, wombats and echidna.
The rugged, rocky coastline from water level is awesome. Spot dolphins, seals, whales and albatross. You’ll also have time to get out and hike the amazing landscape, visit a private reserve of white wallabies, and sample fresh-shucked oysters, local wines, cheeses, seasonal berries and chocolate.
Head north by coach from Hobart to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Port Arthur. There you can visit the historical Penitentiary, it covers 242 acres around picturesque Mason Cove, and has many ruined and restored buildings set in gardens and rolling lawns.
Perhaps best known are the Organ Pipes formation and Cascade Brewery and Gardens, but all of Mount Wellington is spectacular. Get a bird’s eye view of Hobart and the harbor, but also of Tasmania’s cultivated landscape. Sample local cheeses and beers, and seasonal local fruit.
All of this is available to you, if you book a cruise with Holland America Line that features an overnight in Hobart.