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Master Storyteller Justin Johnston and the Viewfinder Tour

Here are some of the best Hobart walking tours, whether you want to discover Australia’s convict past, raise a glass at the pub or learn what it was like to live around Hobart’s historic waterfront in the early 1900s. We’ve also included some free Hobart walking tours to help make your holiday dollar go further.

The Battery Point Sculpture Trail

This self-guided walk takes you on a leisurely stroll along the Battery Point Sculpture Trail to discover nine unique sculptures, each a key to unlocking the rich history of Hobart. You can pick up a free map of the walking route at Hobart’s visitor information centre. These large-scale artworks represent significant dates, weights, distances, and other measurements, all tied to the stories of this waterfront precinct. Large plaques provide information about the sculptures and their significance to Hobart’s history. Be sure to look out for the sculpture floating in the river, the one cleverly shaped from a hedge and a sculpture that illuminates the night. As you walk, you’ll pass by some of Hobart’s beautifully renovated houses. The trail winds along the picturesque Battery Point shoreline, offering stunning views of the port and the lower Derwent Estuary. Hint: grab a coffee or a sweet treat from one of the great places at Salamanca before your journey into art and history.

Mawson Place Hobart waterfront
Discover some of Hobart’s unique sculptures

Old Hobart Pub Tour

In the 1830s, there was one pub for every 200 residents, and every drinking den did a roaring trade. While there aren’t quite as many pubs these days, there are still plenty of historic drinking spots to explore. The Old Hobart Pub Tour visits several of them, including The Hope and Anchor Tavern, which opened in 1807 and was the colony’s first pub to sell ale to thirsty sailors and locals. Lively tales about those who pulled up a stool at the pubs’ wooden bars make this tour incredibly entertaining. If you prefer to explore on your own, wander around the CBD until you find a historic pub that takes your fancy. It won’t take long. Some of them, like the New Sydney Hotel, serve meals featuring Tasmania’s local produce several steps above the usual pub grub.

Hope and Anchor pub
See the oldest continuously licensed pub in Australia

Salamanca Story Walk

The Salamanca Story Tour takes you on a thrilling descent into Tasmania’s shadowy colonial past as you step into the shadows of history on a virtual stroll through time. Explore the pubs lining the narrow streets which were once battlegrounds for brawling whalers and downtrodden convicts. Imagine the shouts and clinking glasses replaced by an eerie silence punctuated only by the creak of an unseen presence as you discover chilling stories of murder, betrayal, and skulduggery. This now beautiful, preserved village-style area is known for its quaint historic houses, but beneath the picturesque facade, secrets lurk. Keep an eye out for phantoms – perhaps an escaped convict, their desperate eyes reflecting in the moonlight, or a notorious smuggler forever searching for a hidden treasure.

Self-Guided Salamanca Market Tour

Any day is a good day to explore the historic centre of town, but time your visit for a Saturday, and you’ll be able to browse the Salamanca Market at Salamanca Place. What started as a few pop-up stalls has grown into half a kilometre of food trucks, locally produced fashion, arts and crafts, and boutique distilled spirits. Salamanca Place is also where you’ll find Hobart’s private art galleries, fashion boutiques, eateries and pubs built inside historic bond stores from the 1800s. A short stroll from Salamanca Place will take you to one of Hobart’s oldest suburbs, Battery Point, for a fascinating look at Tasmania’s early colonial architecture.

Salamanca Market
Salamanca Market

Hobart Cafe Tour

With more than 70 cafes within a ten-minute walk of the GPO, you might wonder where to start your coffee fix; the solution is to go on a café tour. On this Hobart café tour, you’ll not only get an insight into the best coffee hidey holes but also great dining, bakeries and even a hair blow dry if you’re in need of one. Oh, and it also has chocolate because everything is better with chocolate. Hobart Walking Tours run three-hour Hobart Cafe Tours on Wednesday mornings and on other days by appointment.

Hobart’s Dark Past Tour

On Friday and Saturday nights, discover the best (or, some would say, the worst) of Hobart’s grisly and gasp-inducing history on a Hobart’s Dark Past tour. This experience for ages 15+ is packed with grim details about the punishment, retribution, and scandalous behaviour that took place in and around Hobart in the settlement’s early days. Some of the tales about the city’s most notorious early residents, such as executioners, smugglers, criminals, convicts, bush rangers, and the ladies of the night who entertained them, might have you looking over your shoulder on the walk back to your hotel. When this tour ends, don’t be surprised if you feel like steadying your nerves with a drink at one of Hobart’s historic pubs.

Hidden Hobart: The Viewfinder Tour

Discover the best (or, some would say, the worst) of Hobart’s occasionally scandalous history on a Hidden Hobart: The Viewfinder Tour. You’ll be guided around the CBD by a Master Storyteller who will bring the city to life using captivating storytelling and an old-school viewfinder loaded with historic photos. Listen to the guide, then look through the viewfinder to see the scene in front of you from hundreds of years ago. Surprisingly, at many of the stops on the tour, you’ll see little has changed. This clever tour is amazing value at just $20 for 90 minutes. If you’re staying at the MACq01 hotel, the tour is free.

Master Storyteller Justin Johnston and the Viewfinder Tour
Master Storyteller Justin Johnston and the Viewfinder Tour

Stick Stones and Secrets Tour

Take a tour of Hunter Street and the Henry Jones Art Hotel, which used to be the IXL Jam Factory and was Hobart’s biggest employer in the early 1900s. This tour includes a glass of Tasmanian sparkling to set the scene for the charm and scandal of Hunter Street. You’ll gain an insight into what it was like living in Hobart in days gone by and explore the historic IXL Jam Factory building. The tour also showcases the stunning redevelopment of the once derelict IXL factory into an award-winning hotel. This 90 minute tour might also whet your appetite for a bite to eat as you wander past some inviting cafes, restaurants and bars.

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Trevor Templeman is a photographer and writer who travels the world capturing the essence of locations through their landscape, architecture and people. His words and photographs are published in magazines, newspapers and online around the world.