As you might be aware, our family has been spending three weeks travelling through Tasmania. While the kids and I are “Mainlanders”, my husband was born and bred in Scottsdale on the North-East and we’ve been on a bit of a “Tasmanian Odyssey” exploring his old stomping grounds. Naturally, we felt seeing where Daddy came from was important. However, it’s turned out, that we’ve also been getting to know more about their grandfather as well as meeting extended family.
This brings me to the latest stop on our journey…Hobart.
Although Hobart is Tasmania’s capital city, Geoff hasn’t spent much time there. Scottsdale is closer to Launceston in the North and most of the time, there was no need to go there.
I haven’t mentioned this previously, but historically speaking, Tasmania has been divided into three distinct regions: North, South and North-West with a particularly strong rivalry between North and South. Indeed, there was an unofficial border between the two around Oatlands. Basically what I’ve been told, is that the settlers in the North tended to be free settlers, rather than convicts and stuck together. I’ve also heard a bit of derogatory talk about inbreeding in the North while I was in Hobart. By the way, this divide even extended to beer. Northerners drank Boags and in the South, it was Cascade. Not sure how much of this has changed since Geoff left 30 years ago.
For better or worse, our plans for Hobart were rather derailed. Although we’d planned to drive down to the former convict settlement, Port Arthur; it was pouring with rain. So, we decided to head off to MONA (the Museum of Old and New Art) and have an indoor museum day instead. However, unfortunately Mona Foma, their festival of music and art was on and out of our price range.
So, on our first day in Hobart, Port Arthur and MONA had been scratched off the list. Now, we were off to the Cascades Female Factory Site. As they say, the best laid plans of mice and men.
Putting it very simply, the World Heritage Listed Cascades Female Factory Historic Site was where female convicts were housed. They could be assigned from there to settlers but after arriving in Hobart Town, they’d do the “walk of shame” through town to the prison. Naturally, the prison wasn’t built for comfort and regularly flooded. It is located in the shadow of Mt Wellington, which can get covered in snow during winter. Therefore, the winds blowing through the prison were freezing. Women were frequently raped both as convicts within the jail, but also as assigned servants. Inevitably children were born within the jail and many of these inevitably died. It was obviously very sobering to hear how these women lived and I was relieved that none of Geoff’s ancestors to date, were inmates here. We really enjoyed the tour and found it highly informative and the story was very well told. We’d highly recommend you visit.
We were quite hungry by the time the tour ended. So, we drove into the centre of Hobart for lunch.
If you’re an architecture buff, you’ll love Hobart. Unlike Sydney where much of its early architecture has been bulldozed, much of Hobart’s Georgian architecture still shines. Indeed, walking around Hobart feels like you’re stepping back in time and you’ve just stepped off a Tall Ship in Constitution Dock into Hobart Town.
Anyway, it didn’t take long for the sands to run through the hour glass. Unfortunately, we missed the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.
Yet, the night was still young. Consequently, we found ourselves visiting Mawson’s Hut, which was still open. I really should be going into this in more detail as well. However, I am travelling and exploring so many places, foods and people, that it’s impossible to go into it all now. Suffice to say that when Mawson and his crew went on their historic expedition to Antarctica, they sailed out of Hobart and there’s quite a sense of connection with the expedition and Hobart. I am intending to read more about Mawson’s expedition and am so inspired by his grit and determination in such hostile conditions…along with the rest of the men. Their experience makes me wonder whether we have it too easy. That we need to toughen up.
While we were wandering around, we also stumbled across the Franko Food Markets in Franklin Square. This market features up and coming food producers and their products must use ingredients which come straight from the farm to the market. It’s a fantastic concept. While we were initially drawn to sour dough mini donut balls served with a very yummy chocolate sauce, we also had home made pork buns made from their own pork and a Dutch pasty filled with beef and mushrooms and something else. It was so yum! I also really enjoyed chatting to the stallholders and hearing their stories…establishing a personal connection. Such a shame these markets are in Hobart and are such a long way from home. Otherwise, I’d be there every Friday night.
Saturday morning, we headed off to Salamanka Markets before meeting up with Geoff’s second cousin we’d never met at the Tasmanian Museum cafe.
Given how much Geoff and the kids have complained about going shopping or to markets in the past, I didn’t allow for long at Salamanka and we were only there for about 2 hours. I think that was long enough. Although we didn’t get to see everything, we’re on a budget and we have very little space left in the car.
At the same time, I really wanted to buy myself something special there. Something I could look at and think Hobart, our 2017 trip to Tassie and feel all warm and gooey inside.
It took awhile for me to find that something but in the end I bought a CD. I’ve buried it deep in our luggage at the moment. The guy was playing the Chapman stick or “the stick”. Being a violinist myself, this amazing string instrument really played my heart strings. Have you ever heard it?
After farewelling Geoff’s cousin, we walked around Constitution Dock. This is the finish line for the annual Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. The yachts were long gone by the time we turned up, but I have always loved the historical buildings at Constitution Dock. We were admiring these when I strayed across a plaque saying that the women from The Beulah were housed at the building now known as a seafood restaurant, The Drunken Admiral. Geoff’s 3rd Great Grandmother was a famine orphan sent out to Australia onboard The Beulah so this was a great find.
With much of Hobart now closed, we drove up Mt Wellington. We seemed to be driving round and round and round. This is a serious mountain, at least by mainland standards where much of the country is “pancake”. By the time we reached the summit, the trees were twisted and gnarled from the rugged conditions and the ground was covered in rocks. It was freezing up there, even in Summer. Couldn’t imagine the Winter chill.
Unfortunately, our list of what we didn’t see in Hobart way exceeded all we did. Moreover, what we saw was perhaps a bit off track but it was our Hobart.
Have you been to Hobart? Please share your thoughts and add links to any posts.