Tasmania’s capital has a timeless elegance and a visit to Hobart is often full of surprises to those from the mainland. Hobart is Australia’s second oldest city with a fascinating history and a lifestyle that is uniquely Tasmanian. The city itself has some wonderful heritage architecture and the best of nature to choose from with the majestic Mount Wellington as its backyard and the bays and estuaries connecting out to the Southern Ocean as its playground. Stories of early Indigenous communities contrast with those of the European settlers and the region’s maritime history; together these shape the city that stands today. Greater Hobart’s population comes in at just under 216,000 people and the majority of its residents are Australian born, though this has started to change in recent years with a more multicultural community developing.
Tasmania is well known for its cool climate and has the unusual combination of low rainfall and crisp sunny days, which incidentally provide excellent conditions for wine making – a craft the whole state is famous for. Island life is at its finest in Hobart, making it an extremely liveable city – if you don’t mind the cooler weather. It offers a cosmopolitan city lifestyle with a village atmosphere and some of the world’s most pristine wilderness at its doorstep. Hobart is adequately serviced to access mainland Australia, so a weekend in Melbourne or Sydney is well within reach.
Hobart is economically strong with consistently low unemployment and a highly qualified workforce. A high proportion of people are employed in governmental and public service roles and the tourism industry is also a decent contributor to the city economy with Hobart welcoming more than a million visitors each year. Hobart has strong trade connections with Asia through exports of natural resources and food products and plays an important role as the base city for Australia and France’s Antarctic exploration activities.
Hobart’s arts and culture is one of the city’s great attractions. Its artisans and craftspeople have contributed to the development of a respected creative brand for the city, with the Salamanca arts and crafts market consistently rated as the number one attraction for locals and visitors alike. Hobart’s colonial heritage is also a valuable part of its culture and some of Australia’s most well preserved architecture can be found in the city, under National Trust protection. The waterfront precinct bustles with artistic endeavour and great wining and dining options with many businesses showcasing island grown and made products.
With such a small population, suburban life is more realistically defined as village life in Hobart. Community engagement is important and bumping into a familiar face for a friendly chat in the street is definitely not out of the question. Lifestyle choices feed more closely into decisions about where to live; such as how peaceful the area might be on weekends, what the views are like and how much daily sun the whole neighbourhood gets.
Singles, Young People and Students
Hobart has a decent student population and unlike many other Australian towns, its young people don’t feel the need to rush to brighter lights and bigger cities after they finish high school. Many early career professionals prefer the communal lifestyle shared housing offers and students tend to stick to suburbs around the university for convenience. North Hobart is a popular suburb for young people, offering big terrace houses with friendly communal living spaces and sunny gardens. The vibrant street life of Elizabeth Street is a big drawcard with its abundance of restaurants and cafes and it’s just a few kilometres in to the CBD. West Hobart is its direct neighbour and its appeal lies in similar foundations – city access and great proximity to the action of North Hobart’s atmosphere.
For those seeking less heritage and more of a city vibe, there are plenty of modern inner city apartment complexes for the urban professional, from Glebe on the edge of the CBD, to Hobart city itself. Young residents here enjoy great views and the city’s best entertainment, bars, parks and waterfront activities at their doorstep. Because there is just one university in Hobart, things like public transport, bike paths and hilly terrain will inform student decisions about where to live while studying at The University of Tasmania in Sandy Bay. Many find share accommodation in Sandy Bay itself though this upmarket suburb can be a little out of the student budget. Surrounding suburbs such as Mt Nelson and South Hobart offer a reasonable commute to the university but at a slightly lower price range.
Hobart is a wonderful place to bring up a family and really offers the kind of Australian carefree childhood that has become a thing of the past in bigger cities. North and West Hobart again are highly rated as great places to live for their large character filled houses with plenty of space inside and out for a growing family. Close to nature and with great local amenities, these areas along with New Town just to their north also have decent public transport and a nice community feeling. For those wanting less hustle and bustle, suburbs 10 kilometres or so to the north and north west of the city are a slice of country life with an inner metropolitan address. South Hobart, Moonah and Mt Nelson for example are around 15 minutes away so commuting to work is easy and returning home feels like a trip to your country weekender. Mt Nelson’s hillside positioning offers great views and plenty of fresh mountain air as well as an ideal location mid-way between the city and the sea. For those wanting a more rural life, coastal towns further south such as Taroona, Kingston Beach and Blackmans Bay are idyllic spots for families to grow – safe streets, lovely beaches and a friendly and welcoming neighbourhood feel. The same can be said for Howrah, across the Derwent River Estuary.
Hobart is such a relaxed quaint city that a pleasant lifestyle for retirees could really be found anywhere. Those who are now spending the money they’ve worked all their life to enjoy may find Battery Point the ideal address. With gorgeous heritage architecture, quaint streets, nice cafés and a short walk down the hill to Salamanca Place it’s the perfect spot to settle down and enjoy a more comfortable life. Also close to the city and offering the same advantages are Glebe and Hobart city itself. New stylish apartments are appearing regularly with all the modern conveniences and the whole of the city at your feet for those who no longer have the need or desire to drive. Those needing a little more community support would be well suited in the nearby suburbs of West Hobart and Mt Stuart. Public transport is good and local facilities can be reached mostly on foot. South Hobart offers some peace and quiet and that all-important daylong northerly sun for those spending a lot of time at home. Across the river - for those not needing the city so often - Rosny and Howrah are great locations to live retired life. Little to no nightlife makes for a peaceful and safe environment and local amenities and community services are readily available and easily accessible with good local infrastructure to support citizens in transit.
First Time Buyers
Hobart is a great place to take your first step into the property market with one of Australia’s most stable housing markets and a consistently steady return on rentals and investments. First Home Owner Grants are popular in Hobart and buyers will be pleased with what they can get for their budget. Suburbs across the Derwent River on the eastern side are great locations for young families looking to start their lives together in a stable and enjoyable community environment. Risdon Vale is very family friendly and Rosny has good rental opportunities for investors as well as good resale value for those wanting to make short to medium term investments.
If city-side is your preference, then those suburbs just outside the inner metropolitan area will be a little kinder on your budget. Glenorchy, Moonah and South Hobart offer a better package of value with well-maintained houses and a decent sized piece of land close to good local services and amenities. South of the city also offers some good possibilities with decent employment opportunities between Sandy Bay and Kingston and improved tourism potential in coming years due to its close proximity to stunning and easily reachable, natural attractions.
Best Investment Areas
Kingston is just over 10 kilometres from the centre of Hobart and it seems its investment prospects will improve in the coming years. Strong growth is expected in the region as a new focus is placed on the natural beauty of the area and its positioning as ‘the gateway to the D’Entrecasteaux Channel region’. There are plenty of great attractions and facilities in the regional area and good employment opportunities. Meanwhile in the north of the city, the cluster of villages belonging to North and West Hobart, New Town and Mt Stuart are all great areas to invest in. The areas offer good buying opportunities, central locations with access to city and nature as well as the essentials for residents such as shopping, community services and leisure facilities.
- Hobart is Australia’s 2nd oldest city after Sydney – it was first settled in 1803 as a penal colony.
- Hobart’s original settlement was actually 13 kilometres away from its current location around Sullivan’s Cove. The first settlement began at Risdon further north along the Derwent River.
- Hobart is the southernmost capital city in Australia.
- Hobart’s small population of 216,000 people makes Tasmania the least urbanised state in Australia.
- Hobart is the only Australian city to receive snow regularly. Locals can make the pilgrimage up Mt Wellington for a snowball fight at least once a year.
- The first city in Australia to introduce parking meters was Hobart.
- In 1893 Hobart launched an electric tramway to provide public transport to its residents and it was the first Australian capital city to do so. Operation ceased in 1960.
- Hobart’s port is the 2nd deepest natural port in the world making it a welcoming port for many cruise liners and navy ships.
- Almost one fifth of Tasmania (almost 1.5 million acres) has been designated UNESCO World Heritage area including Hobart’s Cascades Female Factory, which is one of the 11 listed ‘Australian Convict Sites’.
- Australia’s oldest remaining synagogue still stands today in Argyle Street in Hobart’s CBD. It was consecrated in 1845 and is one of the few examples in Australia of Egyptian Revival architecture with the building’s design featuring Egyptian motifs.
- Australia’s oldest pub still in operation is the Hope and Anchor in Hobart’s Macquarie Street.
- The Hope and Anchor surely gets its beer from Australia’s oldest brewery still in operation, which is the Cascade Brewery in South Hobart.
- The Wrest Point Casino in Sandy Bay was Australia’s first legal casino and people would travel to Hobart from the mainland to enjoy a weekend of gambling there before other states built their own.
- Australia’s first novel was published in 1831 in Hobart and though written by a British convict named Henry Savery, it was published anonymously. Notes in the original text later identified him as the author; the title was ‘Quintus Servinton’ and it was about his life as a new settler in Hobart.
- Launching Hobart’s future as a creative incubator, artist John Skinner Prout was behind Australia’s first exhibition of paintings in 1845, opened in Hobart by the artist.
- The Theatre Royal in Hobart is Australia’s oldest theatre, built in 1832. It’s still in operation, hosting a wide range of local and international music and theatre performances throughout the year.
- The Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Hobart is the largest privately funded museum in Australia.
- Hobart is a hub for Australian and French Antarctic expeditions and over 65% of Australia’s Antarctic research scientists live in Hobart and its surrounds.
- The Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race has been running for more than 6 decades and is considered to be one of the most difficult yacht races in the world.
- Hobart is the only Australian state to NOT have a team in the Australian Football League.
HOBART LIVING – SIGHTS AND ATTRACTIONS
Hobart’s lifestyle is one of village friendliness with a dash of cosmopolitan style. Locals have a salt-of-the-earth kind of character and their commitment to preservation of both the city’s heritage and its natural environment is to be admired. For many years Hobart’s most popular attraction has been the famous Salamanca Market and this is still the case. The historic warehouse precinct behind the dockyards comes to life every Saturday with one of the finest displays of local art, craft, food and culture in the country.
In recent years a new star has appeared on the attractions list and the ‘Museum of Old and New Art’ (MONA), has become a must see on any Hobart itinerary. The museum also hosts a number of quality and prestigious events throughout the year keeping the locals thoroughly entertained. Hobart has fabulous museums and galleries such as MONA and the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery as well as privately run smaller boutique operations. Many National Trust sites and buildings offer fascinating insights into the island’s heritage such as Kelly’s Steps, Customs House and the Maritime Museum.
The city has lovely parklands, great waterfront areas and the shortest commute of any Australian city to get some fresh mountain air, with Mt Wellington looming large right behind the city. Hobart has plenty of events throughout the year for the young and the young at heart. The city is abuzz every January as the winners cross the line at Constitution Dock in the globally acclaimed Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. Hungry sailors can celebrate over great local food and wine at the weeklong Taste of Tasmania event or head over to Australia’s oldest operational brewery for a beer at the Cascade Brewery.
Hobart is one of the few Australian cities with bus-only public transport and because of the low population, the services are not well patronised. Car travel is still the most common form of transport in the city and there are also some ferry services for both commuters and tourists, such as the trip from Hobart to the Museum of Old and New Art at Moorilla Estate. Access to Hobart by air is via Hobart International Airport, located less than 20 kilometres from the CBD. It’s Tasmania’s busiest terminal, handling mainly domestic passengers, but it’s also the hub for Antarctic operations, transporting both passengers and provisions. Hobart has the 2nd deepest port in the world and as such welcomes numerous large cruise ships and navy ships. However, passenger transport from the mainland is via the large passenger and vehicle ferry, the Spirit of Tasmania which sails into Devonport, 380 kilometres to the north of Hobart. Hobart has a good network of bicycle paths for commuting as well as some particularly pleasant routes through natural surroundings including the bush land around the base of Mt Wellington. Taxis are widely available in Hobart and there is enough well managed inner city parking.
Hobart’s idyllic waterfront location, beautiful natural environment and elegant heritage architecture make it the ideal home for those seeking an easier paced life in a city with some culture and creative energy. It has just a broad enough selection of dining and entertainment options, without being too spoilt for choice and the array of natural attractions and community events make it even more worthwhile. The locals are without a doubt the city’s best assets with a refreshing approach to life and an honest hard working attitude. Hobart is a town of artisans and fishermen, of creatives and academics; collectively shaping the face of a city that is never dull and always inspiring.