Since its foundation as a colonial outpost, the city has grown from the mouth of Sullivans Cove to stretch in a generally north-south direction along both banks of the Derwent River, from 22 km inland from the estuary at Storm Bay to the point where the river reverts to fresh water at Bridgewater. Hobart has experienced both booms and busts over its history. The early 20th century saw a period of growth on the back of mining, agriculture and other primary industries, and the loss of men who served in world wars was counteracted by an influx of immigration after World War II. In the later years of the 20th century, migrants increasingly arrived to settle in Hobart from Asia. Despite the rise in migration from parts of the world other than the United Kingdom and Ireland, the population of Hobart remains predominantly ethnically Anglo-Celtic and has the highest percentage per capita of Australian-born residents among the Australian capital cities.
In June 2016, the estimated greater area population was 224,462. The city is located in the state's south-east on the estuary of the Derwent River, making it the most southern of Australia's capital cities. Its harbour forms the second-deepest natural port in the world. Its skyline is dominated by the 1,271-metre kunanyi/Mount Wellington, and much of the city's waterfront consists of reclaimed land. It is the financial and administrative heart of Tasmania, serving as the home port for both Australian and French Antarctic operations and acting as a major tourist hub, with over 1.192 million visitors in 2011/2012. The metropolitan area is often referred to as Greater Hobart, to differentiate it from the City of Hobart, one of the five local government areas that cover the city.
The first European settlement began in 1803 as a military camp at Risdon Cove on the eastern shores of the Derwent River, amid British concerns over the presence of French explorers. In 1804, along with the military, settlers and convicts from the abandoned Port Phillip settlement, the camp at Risdon Cove was moved by Captain David Collins to a better location at the present site of Hobart at Sullivans Cove. The city, initially known as Hobart Town or Hobarton, was named after Lord Hobart, the British secretary of state for war and the colonies.
The area's indigenous inhabitants were members of the semi-nomadic Mouheneener tribe. Violent conflict with the European settlers, and the effects of diseases brought by them, dramatically reduced the aboriginal population, which was rapidly replaced by free settlers and the convict population. Charles Darwin visited Hobart Town in February 1836 as part of the Beagle expedition. He writes of Hobart and the Derwent estuary in his Voyage of the Beagle:
...The lower parts of the hills which skirt the bay are cleared; and the bright yellow fields of corn, and dark green ones of potatoes, appear very luxuriant... I was chiefly struck with the comparative fewness of the large houses, either built or building. Hobart Town, from the census of 1835, contained 13,826 inhabitants, and the whole of Tasmania 36,505.
The Derwent River was one of Australia's finest deepwater ports and was the centre of the Southern Ocean whaling and sealing trades. The settlement rapidly grew into a major port, with allied industries such as shipbuilding.
Hobart Town became a city on 21 August 1842, and was renamed Hobart from the beginning of 1881.
Hobart is located on the estuary of the Derwent River in the state's south-east. Geologically Hobart is built predominantly on Jurassic dolerite around the foothills interspersed with smaller areas of Triassic siltstone and Permian mudstone. Hobart extends along both sides of the Derwent River; on the western shore from the Derwent valley in the north through the flatter areas of Glenorchy which rests on older Triassic sediment and into the hilly areas of New Town, Lenah Valley. Both of these areas rest on the younger Jurassic dolerite deposits, before stretching into the lower areas such as the beaches of Sandy Bay in the south, in the Derwent estuary. South of the Derwent estuary lies Storm Bay and the Tasman Peninsula.
The Eastern Shore also extends from the Derwent valley area in a southerly direction hugging the Meehan Range in the east before sprawling into flatter land in suburbs such as Bellerive. These flatter areas of the eastern shore rest on far younger deposits from the Quaternary. From there the city extends in an easterly direction through the Meehan Range into the hilly areas of Rokeby and Oakdowns, before reaching into the tidal flatland area of Lauderdale.
Hobart has access to a number of beach areas including those in the Derwent estuary itself; Sandy Bay, Cornelian Bay, Nutgrove, Kingston, Bellerive, and Howrah Beaches as well as many more in Frederick Henry Bay such as; Seven Mile, Roaches, Cremorne, Clifton, and Goats Beaches.
Hobart has a mild temperate oceanic climate (Köppen Cfb). The highest temperature recorded was 41.8 °C (107.2 °F) on 4 January 2013 and the lowest was −2.8 °C (27.0 °F) on 25 June 1972 and 11 July 1981. Annually, Hobart receives 40.8 clear days. Compared to other major Australian cities, Hobart has the fewest daily average hours of sunshine, with 5.9 hours per day. However, during the summer it has the most hours of daylight of any Australian city, with 15.2 hours on the summer solstice.
Although Hobart itself rarely receives snow during the winter (the city's geographic position keeps temperatures from plummeting far below zero), the adjacent kunanyi/Mount Wellington is often seen with a snowcap. Mountain snow covering has also been known to occur during the other seasons. During the 20th century, the city itself has received snowfalls at sea level on average only once every 15 years; however, outer suburbs lying higher on the slopes of Mount Wellington receive snow more often, owing to cold air masses arriving from Antarctica coupled with them resting at higher altitude. These snow-bearing winds often carry on through Tasmania and Victoria to the Snowy Mountains in northern Victoria and southern New South Wales.
The average temperature of the sea ranges from 12.5 °C (54.5 °F) in September to 16.5 °C (61.7 °F) in February.
At the 2011 census there were 211,656 people in the greater Hobart area making it the second least populated capital city in Australia. The City of Hobart local government area had a population of 48,703. According to the 2011 census, approximately 17.9% of greater Hobart's residents were born overseas, commonly the United Kingdom, New Zealand and China.
The most common occupation categories were professionals (21.6%), clerical and administrative workers (16.1%), technicians and trades workers (13.8%), managers (11.5%) and community and Personal Service Workers (10.6%). The median weekly household income was $869, compared with $1,027 nationally.
In the 2016 census, 52.1% of Greater Hobart residents specified a Christian religion. Major religious affiliations were Anglican (19.8%), Catholic (17.0%) and Uniting Church (2.5%). In addition, 39.9% specified "No Religion" and 9.3% did not answer.
Hobart has a small Mormon community of around 642 (2011), with meetinghouses in Glenorchy, Rosny, and Glen Huon. There is also a synagogue where the Jewish community, of around 111 (2001), or 0.05% of the Hobart population, worships. Hobart has a Bahá'í community, with a Bahá'í Centre of Learning, located within the city.
In 2013, Hillsong Church established a Hillsong Connect campus in Hobart.
Shipping is significant to the city's economy. Hobart is the home port for the Antarctic activities of Australia and France. The port loads around 2,000 tonnes of Antarctic cargo a year for the Australian research vessel Aurora Australis. The city is also a popular cruise ship destination during the summer months, with 47 such ships docking during the course of the 2016–17 summer season.
The city also supports many other industries. Major local employers include catamaran builder Incat, zinc refinery Nyrstar, Cascade Brewery and Cadbury's Chocolate Factory, Norske Skog and Wrest Point Casino. The city also supports a host of light industry manufacturers. Tourism is a significant part of the economy, with visitors coming to the city to explore its historic inner suburbs and nationally acclaimed restaurants and cafes, as well as its vibrant music and nightlife culture. The two major draw-cards are the weekly market in Salamanca Place, and the Museum of Old and New Art. The city is also used as a base from which to explore the rest of Tasmania.
The last 15–20 years has seen Hobart's wine industry thrive as many vineyards have developed in countryside areas outside of the city in the Coal River Wine Region and D'Entrecasteaux Channel, including Moorilla Estate at Berriedale one of the most awarded vineyards in Australia.
Hobart is an Antarctic gateway city, with geographical proximity to East Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. Infrastructure is provided by the port of Hobart for scientific research and cruise ships, and Hobart International Airport supports an Antarctic Airlink to Wilkins Runway at Casey Station. Hobart is a logistics point for the French icebreaker l'Astrolabe.
Hobart is the home port for the Australian and French Antarctic programs, and provides port services for other visiting Antarctic nations and Antarctic cruise ships. Antarctic and Southern Ocean expeditions are supported by a specialist cluster offering cold climate products, services and scientific expertise. The majority of these businesses and organisations are members of the Tasmanian polar network, supported in part by the Tasmanian State Government.
Tasmania has a high concentration of Antarctic and Southern Ocean scientists. Hobart is home to the following Antarctic and Southern Ocean scientific institutions:
Hobart serves as a focal point and mecca for tourism in the state of Tasmania. In 2016, Hobart received 1.8 million visitors, surpassing both Perth and Canberra, tying equally with Brisbane.
The Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens is a popular recreation area a short distance from the city centre. It is the second-oldest Botanic Gardens in Australia and holds extensive significant plant collections.
Hadley's Orient Hotel, on Hobart's Murray Street, is the oldest continuously operating hotel in Australia.
kunanyi/Mount Wellington, accessible by passing through Fern Tree, is the dominant feature of Hobart's skyline. Indeed, many descriptions of Hobart have used the phrase "nestled amidst the foothills", so undulating is the landscape. At 1,271 metres, the mountain has its own ecosystems, is rich in biodiversity and plays a large part in determining the local weather.
The Tasman Bridge is also a uniquely important feature of the city, connecting the two shores of Hobart and visible from many locations. The Hobart Synagogue is the oldest synagogue in Australia and a rare surviving example of an Egyptian Revival synagogue.
Hobart is known for its well-preserved historic architecture, much of it dating back to the Georgian and Victorian eras, giving the city a distinctly "Old World" feel. For locals, this became a source of discomfiture about the city's convict past, but is now a draw card for tourists. Regions within the city centre, such as Salamanca Place, contain many of the city's heritage-listed buildings. Historic homes and mansions also exist in the suburbs.
Kelly's Steps were built in 1839 by shipwright and adventurer James Kelly to provide a short-cut from Kelly Street and Arthur Circus in Battery Point to the warehouse and dockyards district of Salamanca Place. In 1835, John Lee Archer designed and oversaw the construction of the sandstone Customs House, facing Sullivans Cove. Completed in 1840, it was used as Tasmania's parliament house, and is now commemorated by a pub bearing the same name (built in 1844) which is frequented by yachtsmen after they have completed the Sydney to Hobart yacht race.
Hobart is also home to many historic churches. The Scots Church (formerly known as St Andrew's) was built in Bathurst Street from 1834–36, and a small sandstone building within the churchyard was used as the city's first Presbyterian Church. The Salamanca Place warehouses and the Theatre Royal were also constructed in this period. The Greek revival St George's Anglican Church in Battery Point was completed in 1838, and a classical tower, designed by James Blackburn, was added in 1847. St Joseph's was built in 1840. St David's Cathedral, Hobart's first cathedral, was consecrated in 1874.
Hobart has very few high rise buildings in comparison to other Australian cities. This is partly a result of height limits imposed due to Hobart's proximity to Derwent River and Mount Wellington.
Hobart is home to the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, which is resident at the Federation Concert Hall on the city's waterfront. It offers a year-round program of concerts and is thought to be one of the finest small orchestras in the world. Hobart also plays host to the University of Tasmania's acclaimed Australian International Symphony Orchestra Institute (AISOI) which brings pre-professional advanced young musicians to town from all over Australia and internationally. The AISOI plays host to a public concert season during the first two weeks of December every year focusing on large symphonic music. Like the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, the AISOI uses the Federation Concert Hall as its performing base.
Hobart is home to Australia's oldest theatre, the Theatre Royal, as well as the Playhouse theatre, the Backspace theatre and many smaller stage theatres. It also has three Village Cinema complexes, one each in Hobart CBD, Glenorchy and Rosny, with the possibility of a fourth being developed in Kingston. The State Cinema in North Hobart specialises in arthouse and foreign films.
The city has also long been home to a thriving classical, jazz, folk, punk, hip-hop, electro, metal and rock music scene. Internationally recognised musicians such as metal acts Striborg and Psycroptic, indie-electro bands The Paradise Motel and The Scientists of Modern Music, singer-songwriters Sacha Lucashenko (of The Morning After Girls), Michael Noga (of The Drones), and Monique Brumby, two-thirds of indie rock band Love of Diagrams, post punk band Sea Scouts, theremin player Miles Brown, blues guitarist Phil Manning (of blues-rock band Chain), power-pop group The Innocents are all successful expatriates. In addition, founding member of Violent Femmes, Brian Ritchie, now calls Hobart home, and has formed a local band, The Green Mist. Ritchie also curates the annual international arts festival MONA FOMA, held at Salamanca Place's waterfront venue, Princes Wharf, Shed No. 1. Hobart hosts many significant festivals including winter's landmark cultural event, the Festival of Voices, Australia's premier festival celebration of voice, and Tasmania's biennial international arts festival Ten Days On The Island. Other festivals, including the Hobart Fringe Festival, Hobart Summer Festival, Southern Roots Festival, the Falls Festival in Marion Bay and the Soundscape Festival also capitalise on Hobart's artistic communities.
Hobart is home to the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. The Meadowbank Estate winery and restaurant features a floor mural by Tom Samek, part funded by the Federal Government. The Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) opened in 2011 to coincide with the third annual MONA FOMA festival. The multi-storey MONA gallery was built directly underneath the historic Sir Roy Grounds courtyard house, overlooking the Derwent River. This building serves as the entrance to the MONA Gallery.
Designed by the prolific architect Sir Roy Grounds, the 17-storey Wrest Point Hotel Casino in Sandy Bay, opened as Australia's first legal casino in 1973.
The city's nightlife primarily revolves around Salamanca Place, the waterfront area, Elizabeth St in North Hobart and Sandy Bay, but popular pubs, bars and nightclubs exist around the city as well. Major national and international music events are usually held at the Derwent Entertainment Centre, or the Casino. Popular restaurant strips include Elizabeth Street in North Hobart, and Salamanca Place near the waterfront. These include numerous ethnic restaurants including Chinese, Thai, Greek, Pakistani, Italian, Indian and Mexican. The major shopping street in the CBD is Elizabeth Street, with the pedestrianised Elizabeth Mall and the General Post Office.
Close Shave, one of Australia's longest serving male a cappella quartets, is based in Hobart.
Hobart is internationally famous among the yachting community as the finish of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race which starts in Sydney on Boxing Day (the day after Christmas Day). The arrival of the yachts is celebrated as part of the Hobart Summer Festival, a food and wine festival beginning just after Christmas and ending in mid-January. The Taste of Tasmania is a major part of the festival, where locals and visitors can taste fine local and international food and wine.
The city is the finishing point of the Targa Tasmania rally car event, which has been held annually in April since 1991.
The annual Tulip Festival at the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens is a popular Spring celebration in the city.
The Australian Wooden Boat Festival is a biennial event held in Hobart celebrating wooden boats. It is held concurrently with the Royal Hobart Regatta, which began in 1830 and is therefore Tasmania's oldest surviving sporting event.
Most of Hobart's sporting teams in national competitions are statewide teams rather than exclusively city teams.
Cricket is a popular game of the city. The Tasmanian Tigers cricket team plays its home games at the Bellerive Oval on the Eastern Shore. A new team, Hobart Hurricanes represent the city in the Big Bash League. Bellerive Oval has been the breeding ground of some world class cricket players including the former Australia captain Ricky Ponting.
Despite Australian rules football's huge popularity in the state of Tasmania, the state does not have a team in the Australian Football League. However, a bid for an Tasmanian AFL team is a popular topic among football fans. The State government is one of the potential sponsors of such a team. Local domestic club football is still played. Tasmanian State League football features five clubs from Hobart, and other leagues such as Southern Football League and the Old Scholars Football Association are also played each Winter.
The city has two local rugby league football teams (Hobart Tigers and South Hobart Storm) that compete in the Tasmanian Rugby League.
Tasmania is not represented by teams in the NRL, Super Rugby, ANZ Championship, A-League, or NBL. However, the Hobart Chargers do represent Hobart in the second-tier South East Australian Basketball League. Besides the bid for an AFL club which was passed over in favour of a second Queensland team, despite several major local businesses and the Premier pioneering for a club, there is also a Hobart bid for entry into the A-League.
Hockey Tasmania has a men's team (the Tasmanian Tigers) and a women's team (the Van Demons) competing in the Australian Hockey League.
The city co-hosted the basketball FIBA Oceania Championship 1975.
Five free-to-air television stations service Hobart:
Each station broadcasts a primary channel and several multichannels.
Hobart is served by twenty-eight digital free-to-air television channels:
The majority of pay television services are provided by Foxtel via satellite, although other smaller pay television providers do service Hobart.
Commercial radio stations licensed to cover the Hobart market include Triple M Hobart, Hit 100.9 and 7HO FM. Local community radio stations include Christian radio station Ultra106five, Edge Radio and 92FM which targets the wider community with specialist programmes. The five ABC radio networks available on analogue radio broadcast to Hobart via 936 ABC Hobart, Radio National, Triple J, NewsRadio and ABC Classic FM.
Hobart's major newspaper is The Mercury, which was founded by John Davies in 1854 and has been continually published ever since. The paper is currently owned and operated by Rupert Murdoch's News Limited.
Greater Hobart metropolitan area consists of five local government areas of which three, City of Hobart, City of Glenorchy and City of Clarence are designated as cities. Hobart also includes the urbanised local governments of the Municipality of Kingborough and Municipality of Brighton. Each local government services all the suburbs that are within its geographical boundaries and are responsible for their own urban area, up to a certain scale, and residential planning as well as waste management and mains water storage.
Most citywide events such as the Taste of Tasmania and Hobart Summer Festival are funded by the Tasmanian State Government as a joint venture with the Hobart City Council. Urban planning of the Hobart CBD in particular the Heritage listed areas such as Sullivans Cove are also intensely scrutinised by State Government, which is operated out of Parliament House on the waterfront.
Hobart is home to the main campus of the University of Tasmania, located in Sandy Bay. On-site accommodation colleges include Christ College, Jane Franklin Hall and St John Fisher College. Other campuses are in Launceston and Burnie.
The G.H.A. (Greater Hobart Area) contains 122 primary, secondary and pretertiary (College) schools distributed throughout Clarence, Glenorchy and Hobart City Councils and Kingborough and Brighton Municipalities. These schools are made up of a mix of public, catholic, private and independent run, with the heaviest distribution lying in the more densely populated West around the Hobart city core. TasTAFE operates a total of seven polytechnic campuses within the G.H.A. that provide vocational education and training.
The only public transportation within the city of Hobart is via a network of Metro Tasmania buses funded by the Tasmanian Government and a small number of private bus services. Like many large Australian cities, Hobart once operated passenger tram services, a trolleybus network consisting of six routes which operated until 1968. However, the tramway closed in the early 1960s. The tracks are still visible in the older streets of Hobart.
Suburban passenger trains, run by the Tasmanian Government Railways, were closed in 1974 and the intrastate passenger service, the Tasman Limited, ceased running in 1978. Recently though there has been a push from the city, and increasingly from government, to establish a light rail network, intended to be fast, efficient, and eco-friendly, along existing tracks in a North South corridor; to help relieve the frequent jamming of traffic in Hobart CBD.
The main arterial routes within the urban area are the Brooker Highway to Glenorchy and the northern suburbs, the Tasman Bridge and Bowen Bridge across the river to Rosny and the Eastern Shore. The East Derwent Highway to Lindisfarne, Geilston Bay, and Northwards to Brighton, the South Arm Highway leading to Howrah, Rokeby, Lauderdale and Opossum Bay and the Southern Outlet south to Kingston and the D'Entrecasteaux Channel. Leaving the city, motorists can travel the Lyell Highway to the west coast, Midland Highway to Launceston and the north, Tasman Highway to the east coast, or the Huon Highway to the far south.
Ferry services from Hobart's Eastern Shore into the city were once a common form of public transportation, but with lack of government funding, as well as a lack of interest from the private sector, there has been the demise of a regular commuter ferry service – leaving Hobart's commuters relying solely on travel by automobiles and buses. There is however a water taxi service operating from the Eastern Shore into Hobart which provides an alternative to the Tasman Bridge.
Hobart is served by Hobart International Airport with flights to/from Melbourne (Qantas, Virgin Australia, Jetstar Airways and Tiger Airways Australia); Sydney (Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin); Brisbane (Virgin); Gold Coast (Jetstar); and Canberra (Virgin). The smaller Cambridge Aerodrome mainly serves small charter airlines offering local tourist flights. In the past decade, Hobart International Airport received a huge upgrade, with the airport now being a first class airport facility.
In 2009, it was announced that Hobart Airport would receive more upgrades, including a first floor, aerobridges (currently, passengers must walk on the tarmac) and shopping facilities. Possible new international flights to Asia and New Zealand, and possible new domestic flights to Darwin, Cairns and Perth have been proposed. A second runway, possibly to be constructed in the next 15 years, would assist with growing passenger numbers to Hobart. Hobart Control Tower may be renovated and fitted with new radar equipment, and the airport's carpark may be extended further. Also, new facilities will be built just outside the airport. A new service station, hotel and day care centre have already been built and the road leading to the airport has been maintained and re-sealed. In 2016, work began on a 500 metre extension of the existing runway in addition to a $100 million upgrade of the airport. The runway extension is expected to allow international flights to land and increase air-traffic with Antarctica. This upgrade was, in part, funded under a promise made during the 2013 federal election by the Abbot government.