Pros: natural beauty
Cities can be boring places. Most are really a lump of tall buildings concentrated in a central area that is sometimes called "downtown" or just simply the "city centre" and then surrounded by seemingly endless miles of sprawling suburbs full of those things we euphemistically call houses.
Well, all right, maybe thats a little over the top but in some cases it isn't that far from the truth. Of course most cities incorporate grassed parklands at regular intervals and take advantage of whatever natural terrain there may be. This breaks up the monotony and in effect makes our cities habitable.
But there are many cities in the world that are truly beautiful. The likes of San Francisco, Vienna, Sydney and many more take advantage of their surroundings and create most pleasant views for the residents.
Well, I haven't been to every city in the world but I have certainly seen enough to know there are significant differences in the amenity and general "liveability" of them.
There is one city that relatively few have heard of that stands tall amongst the top cities of the world in terms of natural beauty. That city is Hobart, capital of Tasmania, Australia's island state. No it is not a huge city, the likes of Sydney, New York, Los Angeles and so on and in fact it doesn't even rank amongst the mid sized cities of the world. In reality size wise its around the bottom of the list with a population of little more than two hundred thousand.
But nevertheless a City it is. Two hundred thousand people is more than enough to support all the amenities and facilities of cities many times its size. Hobart lacks for nothing in that regard. And when it comes to beauty it is hard to beat. Sure there are plenty the equal, but it is in the mould of San Francisco and Sydney - meaning it has a substantial and beautiful harbour, an undulating city and suburban area and a tall mountain range directly behind affording as spectacular a view as you could see anywhere.
In fact, Hobart is Australia's second oldest city, having been settled in 1804, a mere sixteen years after Sydney. And just like Sydney the early settlers were mainly convicts. The island of Tasmania must have looked like an ideal jail to the British, and particularly a narrow, small peninsular with an entry only about the with of a four lane road. Beyond the narrow entry the Peninsula widens out and here was built a major prison called Port Arthur. The worst of the criminals were incarcerated here. These weren't "bread stealers", but axe murderers and the like. The whole area has been faithfully restored and is a major tourist attraction. Many of the original cells are exactly as they were almost two hundred years ago, and a minute or two inside one of these is enough to give me the horrors. How people "lived" here for decades without going completely insane is beyond my comprehension.
Port Arthur is just across the harbour from downtown Hobart. The city came into being partly as a penal colony but equally as a base for whalers utilising the bountiful rewards of the before untouched Southern Ocean. The whalers were too successful in fact, causing the near extinction of many Whale species, especially what became known as the "Southern Right Whale". Southern Rights are huge and slow moving, spending much of the time on the surface so they were a relatively easy catch. Fortunately whaling was banned in time to save them and they are now a source of untold joy along most of the mainland south cost of Australia from about June to November each year. These whales are still nowhere near as numerous as pre 1800 but they are no longer endangered.
Being relatively small in size, much of Hobart City can be enjoyed on foot. Early buildings were built of sandstone and most remain, fully restored. Two of the best examples of early architecture are Parliament House and The Theatre Royal which is the oldest theatre in Australia that is still in use.
Like Port Arthur, for another blood curdling experience visit the penitentiary built in 1834 and the criminal courts complete with the original execution yard. If you are a mad keen chess player, in Franklin Square there is almost always someone to play against using giant pieces and well worth an inspection is the very old St. David's Cathedral.
Australia's first casino is in Hobart, called "Wrest Point" and the Cat and Fiddle Arcade is a favourite with children and adults with its large animated clock. The Botanical Gardens are spectacular with their cooler climate plants. Mt. Wellington, at nearly four thousand feet overlooks Hobart and it even snows on the peak in winter. Antarctic Adventure, in Salamanca Place, is Hobart's newest attraction. There are over fifty exhibits dealing with Australia's role in Antarctica.
There is far more to see and do in this southernmost Capital of Australia than there is space enough here to cover. Must sees, in addition to those already mentioned are the Hobart waterfront and Battery Point, the original seamen?s quarters.
Even though this is as far south as we can go in Australia, weather wise it is quite warm compared to Europe and North America. Antarctica is a lot further south of here than the Arctic is from the Northern Hemisphere countries.
Nearby the city are countless points of interest and despite Hobart's relative remoteness from the major tourist haunts of Australia's east coast a visit certainly won't disappoint.