Located on the island of Tasmania, Hobart is Australia’s southernmost capital.The next landfall after that is Antarctica. Its fair to say that being the only Australian capital located on an island, its unique for many reasons. Settled in 1804 the port town was bestowed the name of Hobart after a colonial secretary. Both the island and its capital have a rich, diverse and sometimes violent history. But today that gives the tiny capital its own distinctive flavour.
In the late eighteenth century the race for domination of the southern seas and newly discovered continent, took place between France and England. Nicolas Baudin as a representative of the emperor Napoleon, sought to investigate and chart the east coast of Australia while Matthew Flinders, representing King George, sought to do the same. But it was England who turned the new colony into a prison, transporting thieves, forgers and Fenians to the new land.
I arrived on a rare thirty-two degree February day and was glad that I had heeded the home-owners’ advice not to discard all my summer clothes. Two days later, I awoke to a temperature of seven degrees. But as the locals keep telling me, it can be four seasons in one day so be prepared. I lit the wood fire and enjoyed its the smell and sight, making me recall one of the joys of my past life in the Blue Mountains.
I visited Tassie over thirty years ago, staying with a friend in Huonville, about forty minutes from the then sleepy city of Hobart. Things have changed since then as tourism has increased and parts of the city, such as Hobart North, have developed a funky inner city feel. Then of course there are those world famous Salamanca markets, which have grown in size, quality and diversity.
Tasmania however, has one of the highest youth unemployment statistics in Australia and the economy of the island depends heavily on tourism. Its has recently become the favoured destination of Chinese tourists to Australia.Years ago some visionary Tasweigans visited China and pitched the unique features of the island, cooler climate, pristine wilderness, quality food and wine, unique animals like the Tasmanian Devil, natural beauty and small population. Last November, during the G20 in Brisbane, the Chinese President Xi Jinping, visited the island, sealing its fate as the favourite Australian city. Its also popular with Canadians and Americans .
For me the attraction is all of those things-and the light. Since becoming a traveller I have discovered that there is a signature light for every city. Whereas Perth has that big blinding light which demands that you almost close your eyes in order to see, or the frequent stell grey skies of Melbourne or crisp blue skies of a sunny Canberra day in mid winter, Hobart’s light is soft, even on a hot summer’s day. But it is on those rainy overcast days that you get to appreciate the city’ silken silvery light, which lets you adjust to the hidden shades of the water and the land.
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