Wel­come to my Place... Ho­bart, Tas­ma­nia

The Irish Times Magazine - - TRAVEL- BAG -

Orig­i­nally from Finea, Co West­meath, Philip Lynch snared foxes as a school boy. He now lives in ru­ral Tas­ma­nia, where he works as a nurse. He is a reg­u­lar, if by his own words “some­what melan­cholic”, con­trib­u­tor to Ir­ish Times Abroad.

Where is the first place you al­ways bring peo­ple to when they visit Ho­bart?

Ho­bart’s Mu­seum of Old and New Art is a must- visit. Mona, as it’s known by the lo­cals, was built by a mul­ti­mil­lion­aire pro­fes­sional gam­bler. It’s a re­mark­able semi- sub­ter­ranean struc­ture. You can eas­ily spend a day ex­plor­ing its nooks and cran­nies and the provoca­tive and eclec­tic art on dis­play. Un­sur­pris­ingly, Mona has over­taken the ru­ins of the Port Arthur Pe­nal Set­tle­ment as the is­land’s top tourist des­ti­na­tion.

The top three things to do in Ho­bart, that don’t cost money, are . . .

Aus­tralia’s sec­ond old­est city is a mod­est- sized place with a pop­u­la­tion of about 200,000. It is lo­cated on the es­tu­ary of the River Der­went. Eas­ily ex­plored by foot, its hilly ter­rain de­mands a rea­son­able level of fit­ness. There is a tourist bus, but it’s more fun to wan­der around.

I’d sug­gest a stroll around Sala­manca Place. Lo­cated in the heart of Ho­bart, Sala­manca is in­deed the clichéd tourist precinct. But what a fab­u­lous precinct of pubs, gal­leries, cafes and book­shops and nar­row cob­ble­stone walk­ways. Its sand­stone build­ings of­fer more than a hint of Tas­ma­nia’s early set­tle­ment times. Fea­tured promi­nently nearby are four life- sized bronze Famine sculp­tures, which were un­veiled by Pres­i­dent of Ire­land Michael D Hig­gins when he vis­ited Tas­ma­nia last year. Mod­elled on de­scen­dants of Ir­ish women con­victs ( and a child), the ac­com­pa­ny­ing text is a sober­ing tes­ta­ment to the hard­ships en­dured by our Ir­ish fore­bears.

Bat­tery Point is also worth check­ing out. A short walk from Sala­manca, re­plete with nar­row streets, tiny cot­tages and Geor­gian man­sions dat­ing back to the early 19th cen­tury, it re­mains steeped in the era when Tas­ma­nia was pop­u­lated with con­victs and ex- con­victs.

Drive up 22km to the sum­mit of Mount Welling­ton or ku­nanyi ( to use its Abo­rig­i­nal name) and take in the view of the city and be­yond. Stand­ing over 1,200m above sea level, its peak is of­ten snow- capped, even in sum­mer. There are also scores of bush­walks that criss- cross the moun­tain. In re­cent times, a some­what ill- con­ceived plan to con­struct an aerial cable car up the face of the moun­tain has con­tin­ued to raise its ugly head. But so far, the idea has failed to win the pub­lic sup­port and the moun­tain looms large and un­spoilt over the city.

Where do you rec­om­mend for a great meal that gives a flavour of Ho­bart?

Ho­bart has plenty of chic restau­rants, but for my money, you can’t beat the fish and chips on of­fer at the fish punts at Eliz­a­beth Street Pier in Con­sti­tu­tion Dock – the fin­ish line of the an­nual St Stephen’s Day Syd­ney to Ho­bart Yacht Race. Open 364 days of the year, th­ese punts of­fer a tempt­ing va­ri­ety of lo­cally caught fish at a rea­son­able price.

Where is the best place to get a sense of Ho­bart’s place in his­tory?

The ru­ins of the Cas­cades Fe­male Fac­tory in South Ho­bart are worth check­ing out. The fac­tory/ prison was built in 1826 to in­car­cer­ate fe­male con­victs who were trans­ported to Van Diemen’s Land dur­ing the first half of the 19th cen­tury. More than 12,000 fe­male con­victs were sent to Tas­ma­nia – over half of them were Ir­ish. Most had com­mit­ted petty crimes. As they reached the end of their sen­tences, they were “of­fered op­por­tu­ni­ties” to be­come ser­vants or wives. Only scant ru­ins of the fac­tory re­main, but there’s an eerie at­mos­phere that still lingers.

What should vis­i­tors save room in their suit­case for af­ter a visit to Ho­bart?

You can’t leave the is­land with­out sam­pling the whiskey on of­fer. A bot­tle of any Tas­ma­nian whiskey won’t dis­ap­point even the fussi­est con­nois­seur.

If you’d like to share your lit­tle black book of places to visit where you live, please email your an­swers to the five ques­tions above to abroad@ irish­times. com, in­clud­ing a brief de­scrip­tion of what you do there and a pho­to­graph of your­self.

We’d love to hear from you.

■ Philip Lynch from Co West­meath

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