As Australia’s second oldest city, Hobart is a town steeped in tradition. In 1803, the British established a settlement at Risdon Cove. They bought with them cruel penal justice which prevailed in the early nineteenth century along with the quest for colonial lands that characterised European exploration of the time. Convicted felons were brought to Van Diemen’s Land and set to work building with the local sandstone, much of which survives today.
Very few convicts managed to escape however many amongst the well-behaved were pardoned or, having been assigned to free settlers as workers, achieved freedom. Many of the historic figures of Hobart were in fact ex-convicts, and the colony benefited greatly from their skills and expertise.
The combination of hard working former convicts and plentiful natural resources of the island soon turned Hobart into a thriving port. Iconic structures such as Cascade Brewery, Customs House and The Theatre Royal began to spring up creating a society said to be as good as any English town.
Today Hobart’s waterfront and warehouses, that once serviced the boats of the colonial era, have evolved into a plaza of cafés, restaurants and shops; with pubs, artists, galleries, craft shops, alfresco dining and nightlife. The cunning and ingenuity of the colonial past continues to this day as Tasmanians continue to use the wealth of natural resources to lead the world in many fields.
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