Hobart, Port Arthur and heading north on Tasmania’s East Coast

Hobart's Tasman Bridge in the city and in the pouring rain

Hobart’s Tasman Bridge in the city and in the pouring rain

We had a very relaxing few days in Hobart this weekend. While the weather was not that kind to us, we still were able to get out and have a good look around. Hobart, located on the Derwent River and founded in 1804, is the capital of Tasmania and is Australia’s second oldest capital city after Sydney. In the early 1800’s the settlement rapidly grew into a major port as a result of the whaling and sealing industry in the Derwent River. Hobart became a city in 1842.

Our home for the weekend was the Royal Hobart Showgrounds at Glenorchy, a suburb about 6km from the city centre. It was nothing flash but it was a quiet stop with fresh water and power being available if needed. The local shops were only a short 1km stroll so topping up with groceries was no problem. On Saturday morning we took ourselves off to the Salamanca Markets. On Saturday mornings Salamanca Place at Sullivan’s Cove in the city becomes a huge outdoor market selling stunning local crafts, artwork and fresh produce. According to the navigator this would was one of the best markets we have been to in Australia. We spent a pleasant few hours wandering around the hundreds of stalls.

The Salamanca Markets - yep! it's still raining

The Salamanca Markets – yep! it’s still raining

After leaving the markets we took a formal two hour tour of the city on an ex London double decker bus. What a great way to get an insite into the cities history. We were told that fifty percent of Australia’s heritage listed buildings can be found in Hobart. It’s not just the odd house that has been restored, but whole streets, giving it an historic integrity rare in Australia. The areas of Constitution Dock and Battery Point have some of the most stunning historic buildings with a good mix of residential and commercial use. Believe it or not but many of these old buildings are quite affordable. We are not sure what the upkeep cost would be but if you are into that sort of thing, the upkeep would be of secondary importance.

This morning we made our way onto the Arthur Highway and down to Port Arthur. It was only a distance of about 100km but with all our dawdling it took us about three hours. We passed through Sorell (and stopped at another market!!), drove onto the Forestier Peninsula and through Murdunna, then onto the Tasman Peninsula, through Nubeena and finally into Port Arthur.

Port Arthur is a small town and former convict settlement on the Tasman Peninsula. It is one of Australia’s most significant heritage areas and forms part of the Australian Convict Sites consisting of eleven penal sites originally built on Australian coastal strips. Port Arthur was also the scene of the worst mass murder event in post-colonial Australian history. In April 1996, 25 people were killed and 23 wounded by a 28 year old shooter from Hobart. He was given 35 life sentences without the possibility of parole.

Port Arther in the pouring rain and a howling southerly. Note the cruise ship coming in in the background

Port Arther in the pouring rain and a howling southerly. Note the cruise ship coming in in the background

We had every intention of staying the night somewhere at Port Arthur but again the weather was against us. Howling southerly winds and temperatures of around 5C drove us 40km northward to the village of Dunalley. The Dunalley Hotel has a 3 hectare paddock beside the hotel and allows travellers to camp there free for the a night. That’s us for tonight.

We received confirmation this week that the motorhome will be shipping home on the 9 March 2015. When we think back we do not know where the last two years have gone. We have loved the journey and experienced an incredible and diverse continent. Loosely our plan from here is to return to Melbourne on the 1 March, deliver the motorhome to the shippers on the 6 March and it will depart Australia on the 9 March. We will fly home on the 7 March.

Back to today, tomorrow we plan to continue to drive up the eastern coastline as far as St Helens then turn west with a plan to be in Launceston by next weekend. We have been told that cellphone and data is not all that reliable in the direction we are heading so if you cannot get hold of us or we are slow responding to calls and emails, you will know why.

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