Tasmania has outstanding scenery, a laid back style and a sense of history. In Australian terms, anyway - anything older than 100 years is considered ancient. It is an island state that lies off the southern coast of Australia. Hobart is the capital city of Tasmania and has a population of approximately 180,000, over one-third of the whole state's population.
In recent years, Tasmania has been in economic recession and so the population has been gradually falling. However, house prices are cheap, even in central Hobart, and even living in the city is quieter than living in one of the mainland's cities.
The weather is temperate. Winter ranges from between 0 - 5°C to 10 - 15°C, and in summer temperatures can reach 25 - 40°C. Australian mainlanders consider this range to be cold, but for some visitors it will seem positively tropical.
One quarter of the state is a National Park, the largest amount of wilderness of any of the Australian states and so the outdoors life is quite popular. There are three beaches in the Kingston area, south west of Hobart, all of which are clean and look out towards the Southern Ocean through the mouth of the Derwent river. The 'eastern shore' beaches are not as clean as the 'western shore' and the beaches for surfers can be found at South Arm. The Seven Mile beach is within 30 minutes drive of the city. People swim all year round despite the water coming straight up from the Antartic.
Things to See in Hobart
Mount Wellington is situated above Hobart, and this spectacular mountain gives an amazing view of the city and surrounding areas. Especially spectacular at dawn, be sure to wrap up warm as it can get very cold.
Mount Nelson is a little closer but not quite as spectacular as Mount Wellington, but is certainly worth a visit.
Salamanca 24 hour Bakery is a boon to the city and is especially valuable nighttime venue considering 24 hour licences are almost impossible to obtain in Hobart.
The Docks provide the best seafood around, usually it's very fresh although it is wise to stay away from the Ling.
Although not the cheapest restaurant, Muers certainly provides some excellent fish and crayfish upstairs, although downstairs can be a bit greasy.
The Supreme Court often has interesting cases on if you have time to kill. Recently, there have been some bestiality trials which, although they may be unpleasant, certainly provided a talking point.
Get out on the River Derwent. The city is completely different when seen from the river, and there are some cheap cruises that operate, which provide meals as well.
Entertainment can be scarce as most touring shows do not go to Hobart but the café culture has become quite popular among locals, and the slow natural pace of life that the scene offers fits in nicely.
Strangely, Hobart has one of the highest bar-per-square metre densities of any city in the world. There is a huge range, from real stinkers and slobber holes to some great little spots to linger and mingle, or eat and just relax.
Swank Little Numbers
There are a few bars appearing now that are pitched at young professionals, and are quite stylish.
All Bar One
A cocktail bar, come wine bar, come restaurant, come just about anything - located in Salamanca Square. Although not especially cheap, it has a great atmosphere, with bar radiators in very strange red colours, lots of wood, old convict-built sandstone walls, and a loft which forms part of the restaurant. It serves a broad menu of dishes and it all adds up to an eclectic mix that can be quite pleasant, although unusual. It is a top venue for starting a night out, but is not very relaxing or laid-back.
This is out on Elizabeth Pier, with a similar type of clientele to All Bar One, but it's much more of a place to chill. With excellent views of constitution dock, and many vinyl couches, this is a great place for coffee and cake or a meal, or just to get drunk. The decor is contemporary in style, with steel tables, lots of blue and surrealist pictures.
The type of places that can be found almost anywhere in the world, styled on drinking holes so prevalent in the UK, although naturally without the history. Often these places sport decor that is simply whatever works for the owners. They serve a wide variety of local beers and others, although imported beers are likely to be more expensive.
Attached to the Hobart Hotel, Monty's is a small pub equipped with a Karaoke device. It is generally stock standard although it is clean and civilised. It is attached to a bistro but meals are not available outside the pub's opening hours.
A larger pub located on Salamanca and typical of Irish style pubs everywhere. As it can be a bit dark and dingy inside, tables outside are a good option.
Also on Salamanca, this place is usually so crowded that you can get very familiar with other customers as you try to push you way in. It has tables outside as well as inside, and the standing area is usually crowded. The atmosphere really depends on when you go, and on a Saturday night it is often impossible to breathe.
The Victoria Arms
This has a tendency to be unpleasant. It has interesting front windows but that's about all. It is very claustrophobic and it is impossible to hold a conversation over the din of the music. Possibly a place to avoid.
The New Sydney Hotel
The loud music tends to destroy the atmosphere here and it is rather an awkward combination of a socialising venue and a dance venue but is not very successful at either.
Miscellaneous Drinking Venues
Again this is on Salamanca and has several floors of entertainment. There is an admission charge. Do not ask for water here, as they charge. The music is techno/dance, and the upstairs bar is a renowned gay haunt.
Attached to the Hotel Grand Chancellor, this bar is carpeted, which speaks volumes about the type of clientele. There is security so don't even bother trying to get in if you are under aged or without ID. The fact that the hotel subsidises breakages shows it is not usually that well patronised by students.
This has couches, open fires and is quiet, making this hotel bar a good venue to go to if you like to talk. Pitched at the older market, it is generally uncrowded and is a good place to retire to after a nice dinner.
This is hard to find as it is actually in an old dungeon from the convict era. It purports to be a cocktail bar but they do serve old favourites such as beer. The poor ventilation makes this a very smokey place and it often tends to be hot. When crowded it is hard to move as its not very big, and it can be very loud. Worth a look, but perhaps not a venue for a long stay.
Located up from the village cinema, Bakers offers a pleasant surrounding, and is really a restaurant/bar. Offering fresh pizzas, coffee, steaks and all manner of other delights, Bakers' clean and sane surroundings make a pleasant change to the stink of some of the others. With dulled music and subdued lighting, it is certainly a place where one can talk. On the down side, the Newcastle Brown Ale is not served in a glass - and this beer is one best poured. Also it can be difficult to get a coffee or hot drink after midnight as the machines are turned off.
The Focus is Beer
Out of Hobart towards Sandy Bay, there are two quite big venues, well frequented by students. They delight in serving lots of different beers.
With a bottle shop, a motel, an extensive bar section downstairs and the night club being regarded by many as being the best around, this is a pretty good all in one venue. Downstairs there are many homemade beers on tap, and some good sitting areas. Upstairs is a pool hall/bar/dance floor which is usually packed, but good for a bit of a rave.
This is a franchise bar, but it is large, and they have tried hard to make a conducive atmosphere. The beers on tap are many and varied, but it can often bring middle-aged clientele out of the woodwork. Good if you are into mainstream ales and stouts.
Sandy Bay Student Solace Centres
Located around the University and the student housing areas, these places attract and sustain both long- and short-haired students alike.
The University Union Bar
A service provided by the university union, it is usually crowded on Wednesdays and weekends. There is a bit of everything here although many students will tell you that it is simply a convenient dive.
A typical Australian pub which seems to be a haunt of old men, but its bottle shop is the cheapest around. If you are hungry try Mykanos' for cheap fast food, although the jury is still out as to whether it should be a regular place to eat.
The Prince of Wales
This is a red brick building on Battery Point. Three words best sum up this place - avoid, avoid and avoid.
This wine bar tries hard but is just a very late night place to carry on drinking and is therefore a very popular place with students.
This is a dive. None of the profits seem to be put back in to the premises, making it very sub-standard. It is seedy and medieval in its level of hygiene. Go to Nickelbies or St Ives.
The Wrest Point casino, once a diamond in Tasmanian attractions has lost its sheen since Crown Casino in Melbourne and Star City came into existence. With big cuts in expenditure, large sections of the slot machines are sealed off, and some of the bars are now defunct, but others can still be useful. Be focused when you go in, stick to your mission objectives, as it's not really a place to admit to hanging out at. A note of warning, shorts cannot be worn, however, jeans, trainers and mullet haircuts seem to be acceptable.
The Sports Bar
With cable sports (Fox 1,2 and C7), as well as some big screens and free nuts, the Sports Bar can be a good place if watching sport is your thing. If you know the TV schedules, you can ask the staff to change channels for you. On several occasions when the cable in the colleges has been on the blink, students have been sighted with study books, re-arranging tables and chairs ostensibly to study while watching cricket or rugby, eating the bar's nuts and drinking their fine free water. Other patrons have objected to this and have unsuccessfully attempted to have the students removed.
The Casino Bar
Another cable TV watching post for those who are bereft. The main advantage of this bar is the free coffees and hot chocolates.
The Birdcage Bar
A piano/cocktail bar with very seedy performers, and unsuccessful at portraying the high flyer culture that it intends. However, free snacks are in abundance.
A night-club that attracts many 35 year old seedy moustached men. It is sleazy, with bad decor, bad music, and really not much going for it. A place to stay away from unless you are keen to pick up what ever is going around at the time, or would like to gain or ruin a reputation.
Really, if you are getting smashed, it doesn't matter where you go. Everywhere in Hobart is pretty safe compared to the rest of the world, and you're probably no more than AUS$101 away from anywhere by cab.