I have been into Hobart CBD on several occasions. It is an easy bus ride from the east side, over the Derwent River on the graceful Tasman Bridge, past the Botanic Gardens, turn right past the few hi-rise buildings and in 15 minutes the bus deposits you in the colonial heart of downtown Hobart.
I do not come to buy things, not even to window shop (well maybe a little bit of window shopping) but I come to wander the streets and admire the architecture and soak up the atmosphere.
Hobart has retained many of the original colonial Georgian buildings, each a work of art, standing proud and tall a credit to the craftsmanship of the stone masons of long ago.
The jewel in the crown of these buildings is the Town Hall. Impressive and graceful it was built in 1864. The transportation of convicts from England had ceased in 1853 and Hobart wanted to turn its back on its tainted convict past. The Town Hall made a statement when it opened in 1866 it symbolized the hope of future greatness for the city.
Walking past the Post Office building and into the Elizabeth Street shopping Mall the beautifully renovated colonial buildings now house the multinational stores you can find everywhere around Australia.
Further down Elizabeth Street on the fringes of the CBD I discover an old-fashioned shop run by the CWA (Country Women’s Association). The shelves are stocked with homemade jams, chutney and preserves. Hand knitted beanies and baby clothes jostle with home-baked cakes fresh from country kitchens and an array of craft work all presided over by two friendly CWA volunteers who look wholesome and healthy as though they had just arrived from the farm.
Next door a quaint, small café looked very inviting and enticed me in with an aroma of coffee and fresh-baked bread. I placed my order, smoked Tasmanian salmon, poached egg and a potato rosti on a bed of rocket and of course a cup of coffee. Then I climb the steep, narrow stairs to the upper level and sit at my table eavesdropping on 4 business people on the next table as they discuss sales strategies.
Re-energized with food and caffeine I explore the arcades, a tangle of covered alleyways that join from street to street going in all directions. I browse through them, yes window shopping, Elizabeth Arcade, Wellington Walk, Centre point, Cat and Fiddle Arcade (now where did that name come from?).
Time passes and eventually I come to the end and out onto a street with no idea where I am. I do not want to go back through the arcades so stand looking at a street map, turning it this way and that trying to get my bearings.
I think I have previously mentioned I am very directionally challenged.
Well within minutes a couple come over to help and point me in the right direction for Elizabeth Street and the buses.
I like that attitude in a city, people have time to stop and help. Travelling on a crowded bus I have had a younger person offer me their seat and seen other people both male and female get up for elderly people. Many passengers say “thank you” to the bus drivers as they get off. A man opening a door into a store for his partner also holds it open for me and gives me a smile as I pass him. People seem to walk slower; more people say “Hello” and smile. Just little things but an accumulation of these positive things give this city of Hobart a good feeling for me, I like this city, I enjoy discovering its secrets, it is a pedestrian friendly city, walking gives time to appreciate the beauty of your surroundings, of the autumn leaves and how they are now giving way to the stark, bare branches of winter.
Time is slipping by. We have been here 5 weeks and only 3 left now. Still some things to do before we fly back to the Goldcoast.