From the first moments as we drove into Hobart from the airport, we were struck by what a beautiful city it is. We did arrive on the best of days with the sun brilliant and the sky an impossible blue, colouring the snatched views of the Derwent River we glimpsed as we were driven through. Even if we had arrived in winter, or in the rain, I think we still would have been taken by the elegant buildings, the graceful architecture, the green of the parks and the harbours full of boats.
I have read so much about the city, looked at so many photographs, but nothing prepared me for how lovely it is. This beautiful island has been inhabited for maybe 40,000 years by aboriginal peoples, the disgraceful treatment of them, their displacement and murder is for another post. European settlers, convicts and their guards set up a primitive township in 1804 at the mouth of the Derwent River; they had arrived on the island a year earlier and built a settlement at Risdon Cove on the other side of the river, a few miles away. There were one hundred and seventy-eight convicts, twenty-five Royal Navy marines, fifteen women, twenty-one children, thirteen free settlers, and ten civil officers – one hundred and sixty-two people altogether. The area which is now Hobart was chosen because of the deep anchorage for ships, and the fresh water from the Hobart Rivulet which runs into the Derwent here. it was established as a penal colony, but more and more free settlers arrived and settled and by 1830, the population of Hobart Town as it was then called, had increased to nearly 25,000, 18,000 of whom were men .
The changes which have taken place over the past two hundred and some years are incredible; the very landscape of the waterfront has changed beyond recognition so it is difficult for the new visitor to imagine what the shoreline must have been like in 1804. We arrived on January 5th, and from the first I think we realised we would have a wonderful, interesting and exciting time… we just didn’t realise how wonderful, how interesting, how exciting!