Hobart is Australia’s second oldest capital city full of natural beauty, history and heritage. It contains parks and gardens of supreme grandeur. With many options to keep you entertained for days, it was a pleasure to visit. Below is our guide of what to do in Hobart with kids and the best part these iconic sights are all free.
1. Salamanca Markets
If you are in Hobart on a Saturday, a stop at the famous Salamanca Markets is not to be missed, with nearly 300 licensed traders it is one of Australia’s largest markets.
The street itself is lined with 19th-century Georgian sandstone buildings, once used for warehousing whale oil, grain, and timber. They have now been converted into some of Hobart’s most popular Café’s, markets, shops, and Restaurants.
What you can buy
The markets draw crowds of people searching for art, craft, home-made delights, fresh fruit and vegetables, second-hand books, Tasmanian wood products, jewellery, toys and much more.
We took the opportunity to stock up on the delicious local fresh produce and couldn’t resist some of the sugary treats along the way.
What to expect
Be prepared for crowds! The Hobart markets are not your average weekend markets, and the once small street markets that began in 1973 are now a local institution. There were quite literally thousands of people walking the street of Salamanca Place with us.
The grassy area alongside the markets was the perfect place to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the street. Claim a patch of grass, listen to the soothing sounds of the buskers and stop for a snack underneath the giant trees.
On Saturdays, Salamanca Market is closed to traffic from 5.00am to 6.00pm, which is why they encourage public transport. We chose to park in a nearby city car park and walked to the markets. After a long morning on our feet, we returned by catching a free shuttle that runs in a continuous loop from 9.00am to 2.00pm between the Hobart City Centre and the Markets.
For the Kids
Walking towards the water along Salamanca Place leads you to the streets of Battery Point where you’ll find Princes Park. A fabulous boat-shaped playground with lots of activities for the children to enjoy. Surrounded by lush green grass, colourful flowers and large shady trees, it was a perfect way to relax after a morning of shopping.
2. The Waterfront Area
Known as Sullivans Cove, the waterfront area stretches from Salamanca Place to Hunter Street. This port has been made internationally famous by the Sydney to Hobart race that starts on Boxing day and finishes at Constitution Docks each year.
As you venture along you will view historical building adjacent to the waterfront area such as the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery and Parliament House.
We stopped at Constitution docks to watch the boats set sail on what would have been a perfect day on the water.
Indulge at the Restaurants and Cafes in the area or purchase a live seafood feast from the local fisherman.
3. Royal Botanic Gardens
Established in 1818, nestled in the heart of Hobart the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens are the second oldest Botanic Gardens in Australia. We have visited many Botanic Gardens, and Hobart has to be one of our top favourites with its striking displays.
You can opt for a guided tour or go at your pace and explore the 14 hectares of parklands. Due to the cool climate, there are many displays that are unique to the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens.
A Café and Restaurant is available in the gardens. The fully licensed Succulent Restaurant is located in the Visitor Centre near the main gate of the gardens, offering breakfast and lunch, seven days a week.
Coffee, ice-creams, sandwiches, wraps, cakes and more can be purchased in Sprout Café. You have the option of alfresco seating or grab a takeaway and find your private area in the gardens. Sprout Café is also open seven days a week from 9.30am to 4.00pm
Just a short drive to the gardens from the City Centre parking can be located near the main gates or along Lower Domain Road.
Must See Displays in the Park
As our time was limited, we chose to tailor our walk to the garden displays that were recommended by the guide at the gate.
- Conservatory – The Conservatory at the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens opened in 1939 and each year upwards of 10,000 plants are grown in the conservatory to use in their four seasonal displays. The number of plants (10,000) still astounds me.
- Lily Pond – Formed in 1840, water lilies have grown here for over 100 years. The Nymphaea lilies are planted in pots on the bottom of the pond, and as they flower throughout summer, we were lucky to witness their beauty covering the entire pond.
- Japanese Garden – White pebbles, water displays, stepping stones, vibrant flora, and bridges are just some of the special aspects of the Japanese garden display. The ducks we encountered in this part of the gardens quite literally jumped out of the water to greet you.
- Tasmanian Section – The gardens have created a tropical sanctuary with the centrepiece being a waterfall amongst lush ferns, palms and tropical plants. Walk all the way around the display via the wooden steps.
- Subantarctic Plant House – This is a garden display you will not encounter anywhere else! Enter into the WORLDS only Subantarctic Plant House where plants from subantarctic islands grow. The Tasmanian Gardens have been able to create such a display by mirroring the COLD, (very cold!) foggy and wet conditions in a climate-controlled environment.
- The Main Gates – though not a feature on the map, The Royal Botanical Tasmanian Gardens has some of Australia’s best and oldest examples of trees, overlooking the grounds. These giants stand 40 metres tall and can be seen down the entrance drive to the main gate. These 130-year old trees are only mere babies compared to some being more than 3000 years in California.
4. Mount Wellington / Kunanyi
Mount Wellington is an impressive sight to look upon but even more impressive is being on top of this giant that stands 1270 metres in the sky.
This natural attraction sits on the doorstep of Hobart being only a mere half hour drive from the City and is full of activities from bushwalking, bike riding, horse riding, dog walking, 4WD, rock climbing. It caters for anyone wanting to spend a day in nature.
With perfect blue skies we encounter many other people visiting, but due to the several walking paths and vastness of the area, you tend not to notice the other people around.
The views are spectacular, and on a cloudless day, it gave a brilliant aerial view of Hobart, the River Derwent, and Ocean.
Travelling to or from the summit of Mount Wellington you will notice the walking tracks embedded in the dense woodlands. I can imagine the sense of achievement those adventurers would have after they walked/climbed approximately 1200 metres from Hobart all the way to the Summit of Mount Wellington.
You don’t need to go to this extreme to be rewarded with magnificent views. There are many short walking tracks on the summit. We did find its best to leave the stroller in the car as there are stairs that lead to some of these lookout points.
How to get there – Opening Times – Car Parking
Vehicle access is via Pinnacle Road with Wellington Park only closing if there is an emergency or in extreme weather conditions. Car parking can be found at the summit, where we did have to loop around a couple of times to find a park.
Toilets are available at Myrtle Forest, Fern Tree Park, The Springs and the Pinnacle.
It is best to prepare for all conditions when you reach the Pinnacle as it can change suddenly from beautifully calm conditions too windy, wet and cold. We had been warned that it could be at least -8 degrees cooler on the mountain and then you need to add the wind chill factor. On a glorious sunny day, ensure you pack your hats and sunscreen as the Tasmanian sun packs a punch.
Visit the Wellington Park website for more detailed information on planning your visit to Mount Wellington.
Share with us if you have been to Hobart. What did you love about the city?