A Guide To Tasmania’s Unique History And Bustling Art Scene

Some of Australia's first convicts were once confined to the Port Arthur penitentiary | © Martybugs/WikiCommons
Some of Australia's first convicts were once confined to the Port Arthur penitentiary | © Martybugs/WikiCommons
Photo of Ainsley Koch
24 April 2017

The small southern island of Tasmania is undoubtedly bursting with a rich culture and history waiting to be discovered. Take a trip to this small, quaint state to get a taste of one of Australia‘s best locations for art, culture and history.

The Hobart waterfront has one of Tasmania's most spectacular views | © Wendy Cutler/Flickr

Tasmania is the perfect place to learn about Australia’s early history, with five of Australia’s World Heritage-listed convict sites located within Tasmania. Highlights include Port Arthur and Sarah Island in the state’s south and Brickendon and Woolmers Estates in the northern town of Longford.

Home to Australia’s second oldest city, Hobart, the state’s unique past is reflected through its bygone era, with a history dating back to the arrival of European settlers at Port Arthur in the early 1800s.

Tasmania’s antique history is written in the old Georgian, Victorian and Federation-style buildings scattered among the state’s oldest townships. The bare hands of convicts crafted these buildings over 200 years ago.

The capital city of Hobart contains some of the oldest remaining sandstone buildings in Australia, including the Town Hall on Macquarie Street and the unique warehouses lined along Salamanca Place.

Battery Point is also a thriving historical province, conveniently located behind Salamanca. The area is crowded with old workers’ cottages and impressive stone-built homes, making this area the most well-preserved colonial space in Australia.

While Tasmania’s early history is a popular tourist draw, the state is also a haven for art lovers, providing an abundance of period and contemporary art spaces for all ages to enjoy.

From small artist-run workshops to contemporary art galleries and the world-renowned museum, MONA in Hobart, there is an abundance of art spaces to be explored, whether you are a die-hard art enthusiast or completely new to the whole experience.

Some of Australia's first convicts were once confined to the Port Arthur penitentiary | © Martybugs/WikiCommons

If you are looking to sink your teeth into the best of Tasmanian art, then take a look at the latest exhibition at Hobart’s Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. Or experience one of many shows currently on display at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery in Launceston, where art and history collide to explore Tasmania’s history through various exhibitions and events for the whole family.

Hobart is particularly famous for its popular Salamanca Market, a trendy event for art lovers and foodies, held every Saturday from 8am-3pm. Discover the various stalls of local and international arts and crafts and an endless display of local produce for sale.

The annual Mural Fest is another event not to be missed. International guests travel to the northwest town of Sheffield every Easter for the ultimate competition of mural art, while also enjoying the family-friendly festival with plenty of food and entertainment.

At the epicenter of Tasmania’s art scene is MONA. Situated in Hobart, the newly opened gallery is Australia’s largest privately funded museum and features a cinema and gift shop, with various restaurants and bars from which to choose. Be sure to catch the current exhibition Mathieu Briand ET IN Libertalia Ego, Vol. 2, on show until July 11, 2016.

MONA’s annual festival of art and music, MOFO, is also held for five days every January, with The Flaming Lips set to headline the 2016 event. Dark MOFO returns every winter, showcasing the best food, art, music and film, attracting both locals and international guests to this unique celebration of cultural excellence.

For more information on Tasmania’s history and the best places to travel around the state, visit http://www.discovertasmania.com.au.

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