Hobart, founded in 1803, is the second-oldest of Australia's State capitals. Situated about 20 km from the mouth of the River Derwent in the south-east of the State, it is spread over about 100 km2 on both sides of the Derwent. Its western limit is marked by Mount Wellington, 1269m. The city experiences mild summers and cool to cold winters and the, mountain, often snow-capped in winter, is its most prominent landmark. The city's population is nearly 50 000.
Hobart's modern deep-water port can handle large ships and is a terminal for the freighters that trade between Tasmania and mainland Australia. Japanese long-line and squid-fishing boats working in the waters around Tasmania regularly use Hobart to replenish supplies.
The city is the home of several large industries, including zinc, sulphuric acid and superphosphate production, fruit preservation and processing, paper and confectionery. The city is also the centre of a large agricultural area specialising in apple and other fruit growing, and cattle and sheep grazing.
Hobart is served by a State Government-controlled system of buses operating in all suburbs. The eastern shores of the Derwent are linked by the five-lane concrete-arch Tasman Bridge and the four-lane Bowen Bridge. An extensive road system connects Hobart with other cities and towns in Tasmania.
The city has several private and public hospitals, the largest of which is the State-run Royal Hobart Hospital.
Public primary and secondary schools and technical colleges and several private schools cater for Hobart's educational needs and the University of Tasmania provides comprehensive tertiary courses. Hobart has a large public library and a State-supported museum and art gallery, as well as many privately owned museums, galleries and exhibition halls.
Hobart retains a strong flavour of its past in the many colonial buildings still standing in the city. Among the most important are Parliament House, completed about 1840 and formerly the Customs House; the Town Hall; the State Government offices in Franklin Square; Government House on the Queens Domain; the Theatre Royal, Australia's oldest theatre, built in 1837; Anglesea Barracks, begun in 1814, the oldest military establishment in the country still occupied by the Army; a terrace of waterfront warehouses at Salamanca Place dating from the city's whaling days; and several churches.
All these buildings are of interest, as is Battery Point and Australia's oldest surviving colonial village. Dotted with antique shops, old homes converted to restaurants, museums and carefully preserved houses, it is a tourist drawcard. The warehouses of Salamanca Place have been converted to unusual shops and restaurants and on Saturday mornings, an open-air market is held in Salamanca Place offering a wide range of goods, including wood carvings, leathergoods, paintings, clothes and fruit and vegetables. Musicians entertain shoppers as they wander through the market.
Hobart's main parks and gardens include the Royal Botanic Gardens, the Queens Domain-Franklin Square, Parliament Square, Fitzroy Gardens and St David's Park, the city's original burial ground.
Beaches border both sides of the Derwent, a popular place for water activities, and Tasmania's main surfing venue, Clifton Beach, is a few kilometres south of the city. Hobart is well served for entertainment with theatres, cinemas, discos and hotels and has Australia's first licensed gambling casino at Wrest Point, which includes the nation's largest convention and entertainment centre.
An important annual event is the Sydney-Hobart yacht race which finishes in Hobart just before New Year's Day and hundreds of city residents turn out to greet the yachts as they move up the Derwent.
Hobart takes great pride in its history and a lot of time, money and effort is spent to preserve its links with the past. Many of the historic buildings have been classified by the National Trust and, in much of the immediate city environs, this has tended to shape present building patterns.