On our trip to Tasmania our focus was definitely more on nature and landscape than cities, and we just had a couple of half-days in Launceston (where we flew in and out of) and just one day in Hobart, the capital city. And we were glad we'd planned it that way, because we both felt ready to get out of the cities fairly soon after we'd arrived. Not that there's anything wrong with Hobart or Launceston - they're lovely cities, and I'll tell you why below - but on our short trip, we didn't have time to be country people AND city people!
|The big sky of Launceston|
Let me start with Launceston, since that's where our tour of Tassie actually began (and ended). It's a charming city (and pretty small with just over 100,000 people) and a place I almost went and worked in many years ago when my boss at the time took a job there. This was my second trip there and it still charmed me. I love Cataract Gorge and the dramatically hilly suburban streets (since ours are all flat, basically), and I appreciate a city of this size - easy to get around but it still has most things you're after. Our highlight was a cruise we took on the Tamar River (on a beautiful day - see the photo above) - it was the last cruise of the day and with just one other couple on board, we got special treatment, my little boy got to sit in the captain's seat and steer the boat, and the captain told us all about his love of German beer (to the point where he brews it himself!). Perfect.
|Penny Royal, Launceston|
We also got to stay in a really charming hotel (they didn't pay me to say that, it's just my opinion!) in the Penny Royal Motel, which includes an old mill and refurbished old buildings. It was something different and really had character.
|Playground in Hobart (a smile, not a frown!)|
Our stint in Hobart was brief, weather-affected and we were really too keen to get on to the Tasman Peninsula and Port Arthur so we didn't spend much time here at all. We did have a stroll around Salamanca Place and had a great pub meal in the city centre, and I was certainly impressed to see all the modernisation (in a good way) that's taken place since I was last there. We stayed in cabins in a caravan park a fair way out of town (and most notably, near the maximum security prison!), which may sound less than ideal but was actually perfect for our needs at the time - the cabins were brand new, spacious and relaxing, and the caravan park and not one but two great playgrounds. Oh, how my travel expectations have changed!!
I got the feeling that a proper exploration of Hobart would be better done as a pure "city break" trip. Several people have told me of various festivals to visit there and I think my next Hobart trip might be to tie in with one of these. (All tips gratefully received in the comments below!) The one major disappointment with Hobart, of course, is that the Cadbury Factory tour has been severely curtailed. No longer can we lean over and peer into vast vats of melted chocolate. I can understand why, and I'm glad I found out before I arrived in Hobart and tried to take a tour, but it does leave me feeling rather nostalgic for the Hobart I visited many years ago.