It’s the capital of Australia’s southern island state, Tasmania, and the perfect blend of nature, history, food, wine and culture. Set on the Derwent River, nipaluna / Hobart’s most popular landmarks for visitors are Victoria and Constitution docks on its waterfront. Here you can buy seafood from trawlers, find a restaurant overlooking the water or watch the fishing vessels and other boats coming and going.
Just a short walk away are other popular areas: Salamanca Place, where the famous Salamanca Markets are held each Saturday as well as Davey Street and Murray Street, which runs through the centre of the city.
But once you’ve taken in the shopping, dining and attractions of Hobart, you’ll need a rental car to explore all that surrounds it. Here are a few suggestions for things to do on Hobart day trips.
River Deep, Mountain High
It overlooks the city and, even in summer months, can catch a dump of snow. kunanyi / Mount Wellington is a 30-minute drive from the city. Many people head to the top simply for the incredible views of Hobart and most of southern Tasmania, but there are a couple of good walks. Starting at The Springs, there’s a 7.4km trail that leads to Organ Pipes, columns of dolerite rock that are Mount Wellington’s most distinctive feature.
You will likely never have been to a museum or art gallery like it - Mona (Museum of Old and New Art) is the folly of über-wealthy maverick David Walsh. The gallery itself, in a building set low over the Derwent River, is dedicated to sex and death. Best known for pieces like Cloaca, a machine that is fed and poops every day, and The Great Wall of Vagina, featuring 151 porcelain vulvas cast from real women, Mona was actually built to hold Sidney Nolan’s Snake, a giant mural made from 1,620 individual paintings. It shows about 1,900 individual works at any time.
Set on a rivulet at the base of Mount Wellington, the Cascade Brewery is Australia’s oldest, still-operating beer factory. It offers both historic tours for all ages and adults-only brewery tours from Wednesday to Sunday. Unsurprisingly, there’s also a bar on site, serving up Cascade’s different beers, collabs, guest brews, classic pub food and trivia and bingo nights. If you’re having a taster of local brews, be sure to assign a designated driver.
A Day Trip to the Tasman Peninsula
It’s certainly possible to pack in a couple of its big-ticket attractions in one day, but you’re likely to fall in love with turrakana / Tasman Peninsula’s rugged wilderness and get an urge to explore it even further.
It’s about an hour-long drive in the rental car to teralina / Eaglehawk Neck, the narrow isthmus that connects the peninsula to mainland Tasmania. Near here is the Tessellated Pavement, a natural rock formation at the northern end of Eaglehawk Neck Beach that looks as though someone has laid a mass of large rock tiles.
One of the most popular attractions in the area – and in all of Tasmania – is the Port Arthur Historic Site. Established in 1830 as a penal settlement, it was a small timber station first before shipbuilding commenced here. It is a huge site that, at its busiest, held 1,200 prisoners. Now, you can wander around the site and 30 of the old buildings on your own or join one of the guided tours. There’s also a harbour cruise that takes guests past the Isle of the Dead and Point Puer, where the first boys’ jail in the British Empire was established.
If you want to get close to and learn about Tasmanian devils, book a visit to Unzoo. You can come face to face with them and other native animals, like wombats and echidnas, in unique habitats.
One of the best ways to see the incredible sea cliffs, caves, lighthouses and marine animals, including whales, dolphins and sea eagles, along the coast here is on a three-hour journey with Tasman Island Cruises.
Explore the Huon Valley
South of Hobart is a region that offers fertile farmland, quaint towns and rainforests. Some of the joy of day-tripping through the Huon Valley is keeping your eyes peeled for roadside farm gates selling apples, cherries and other fruits and veggies. Some of them have honesty boxes, so make sure you keep some small notes and gold coins in your rental car’s glove box.
Stop at Hastings Caves State Reserve to explore Australia’s largest dolomite tourist cave. Once you’ve seen the incredible stalactite and stalagmite formations and the labyrinth of chambers, warm up back at the surface in the 28ºC thermal pools that are fed by mineral springs.
Get a different view of the forest from Tahune Airwalk. The elevated boardwalk is 30m above the forest floor, with the final cantilevered platform sitting 50m above the Huon River.
If you’re getting hungry, head to the artistic village of Cygnet. Its main street is lined with galleries, shops and cafes. One of the best for lunch is Red Velvet Lounge, with its selection of snacks, salads, pasta and pizza.
When you’re ready to explore Hobart and southern Tasmania, hire a rental car to make it easy.