The Meeting Place

Forget the Sydney/Melbourne rivalry, the new enemy is Hobart

I travel frequently between Sydney’s inner west suburb of Annandale and Melbourne’s Brunswick, and I’ve noticed a big shift in dinner party conversation in both cities. Where previously the Sydney versus Melbourne debate would dominate discussion, a new rivalry has emerged and it’s one that just a decade ago you’d never have banked on. Hobart.

Yep, the place that was the butt of many a joke about banjo players, sisters, and two-headed babies. The same place from where bon vivant Leo Schofield fled back to the mainland pursued by pitchfork wielding locals after he called them: “dregs, bogans and third generation morons”.

But, judging from the talk around the table, nowadays Hobart is the place we should all envy. Here’s why:

Traffic: Ever seen a Hobart traffic jam? No? That’s because they don’t exist. There was once a report on a Hobart radio station about a woman who had to wait in her Camry for almost a minute-and-a-half at a traffic light. It was subsequently dismissed as a hoax, because Hobart doesn’t have traffic lights. It only got its first Give Way sign a month ago.

On the other hand, Sydney’s Parramatta Road enjoys a 24-hour peak hour. It’s basically a 23km long car park owned by Wilson. And Melbourne has its own problems with the West Gate Bridge, where drivers have actually been known to grow old and die in their cars just getting to work.

Property prices: In Hobart nobody ever needs to get a mortgage. Yes, you heard correctly; mortgages in Hobart are non-existent. This is because Hobart is a city where, for the small change in your pocket, you can buy a stately home to rival Windsor Castle. Even Hobart’s poshest suburb, Sandy Bay is ludicrously inexpensive. And check out this “Manor” (that’s not just agent talk) in the heart of the city. You’ll probably pick it up for the price of a used Hyundai i30.

Food: Sure, Melbourne and Sydney have world class restaurants, but you’ll have to book weeks ahead to visit them, during which time they will no longer be in fashion. Plus, you’ll have to endure the egotistical ramblings of a “celebrity chef” with a pony tail.

Down in Hobart, the food is so fresh the chef will be chasing it around the kitchen with a hammer. Seriously, Tasmania is basically a giant farm, dotted with hectares of stumps where an old growth forest used to be. Even the Sydney Morning Herald food critic, Matthew Evans moved down there to forge a career showing folks how to slaughter a cow and eat its naughty bits.

Fresh air: Following a trip to Hobart, the first thing you notice about Sydney and Melbourne’s air is that it’s so thick with smog you can play hide-and-seek without the need to actually hide. On some days, the air quality in Sydney is so poor that it’s mistaken for a solar eclipse.

Head to Hobart and you can take a deep breath without something lodging in your throat and choking you to death.

Natural beauty: Yes, yes, OK, Sydney has its stunning harbour, but only those with deep enough pockets get a view of it. The majority of Sydneysiders live in brick veneer bungalows 40 kilometres from the harbour with a view of the Colorbond fence and Commodore next door. The same goes for Melbournites; not many enjoy the dubious pleasure of looking out over a liver-coloured river, or over a bay full of things that eat your legs.

Meanwhile, Hobart has the leafy Mount Wellington towering in the background and the sparkling Derwent Estuary spread out in front. And nearly EVERYONE can afford a view of one or both.

The arts: This is where Hobart really kills it. Not only do they have MONA, a modern art museum so edgy it boasts a great wall of vaginas and a public lavatory, in which you can look up your own clacker, it also has an annual festival of music and art (Dark MOFO) dedicated to debauchery and naked swimming.

What does Sydney have? Bloody VIVID, where families wander around looking at pretty lights. And a film festival where people watch boring, pseudo-art movies that make you want to slash your wrists.

Melbourne has Moomba, featuring Karen Martini. Enough said.

STEPHEN LACEY FREELANCE CONTRIBUTOR

11 comments

Hobart is a beautiful quaint little town

and Tasmania natural beauty is well worth a good 3 week road trip to take it all in 

Agree that Tasmania is a great place to spend 2-3 weeks ambling around. Varied, interesting, stunning as well as shocking (e.g. Port Arthur) as we found when we did it.

Hobart was great but Strahan (access to Franklin River) and Stanley (the Nut) were a couple of favourite stays for us. Personal pics.

Strahan

Stanley

Love your pics RnR, always nice to see 'personal' pics put up, Tassie has some amazing sites and places to see...

Tasmania is a lovely part of th eplanet but your comment about not having a mortgage in Hobart defies the facts. Have a closer look.  You can easily pay well over a million dollars at Sandy Bay and other areas not all that much better.

One of the main problems with Hobart for me is that the annual rainfall is around 800 mm.  Compare that to 1200 mm for Sydney.  Nothing worse than living in a dry place but perhaps marginal in Hobart's case.

Are you working for Tourism Tasmania Brocky?

I took most of those comments as "tongue in cheek " i doubt there's any capital city where you could get by without a mortgage 

The cheap places in Tasmania all come with a catch like no work around ,no supermarkets for a few hours drive and no council funded facilities.The investors got stuck into Tassy a few years back and bought everything that was cheap. 

Yep if it wasn't that i wouldn't see the kids and grandkids enough I'd live there in a heartbeat. Loved Hobart and the weather was so much more bearable than our long Brisbane summers . Any excuse for a fireplace 

Yes it would be a very nice to have a holiday home in Tasmania for the summer to escape the Northerly heat but would not like the cold winters.

We have been there several times and have friends who live there.Three weeks is just scratching the tourist spots.The last time we were in Stanley ,beautiful village but nippy,we went to have coffee at a little cafe we had used before only to find a sign in the window --Closed for winter ,be back October.And we found this common .Do not go there before the end of September as most of the tourist places are shut,and it is still cold.Hobart is the only place in Australia I have seen snow on New Years Day. 

I like Tassie too.

Oysters at $6 per doz but that was about two years ago.

Get off the ferry and turn your watch back 20years.

It's all true. I live in Hobart and have a wonderful view of the River Derwent, the city and Mount Wellington. It's a chilly 15c atm with the sun shining and I have a toasty warm gas fire on my left as I type and think about what to make for dinner with all the fresh food I pick up at the local farmers market only 15 minutes drive to Salamanca Place every Saturday. The one thing I do have is a mortgage but not an unmanageable amount. MONA is free to Tasmanians so an arty fix is easy and the wine produced there is also worth a trip on the ferry upriver to taste while taking in the latest display of 'interesting' art pieces. Having lived in Sydney and Perth for many years, I am so glad I chose to return to my home state and I will live happily here the rest of my days. Any trip to Tassie should be a minimum of two weeks but 3 or more will allow plenty of time to appreciate the smallest state in Australia. 

love the salamanca market stalls Aniie

You live in a beautiful part of the world. Shame its so darn cold in winter and so far away from everywhere else

going to make a road trip again next year 

We will be coming back to see the places we missed last time.

I brought back lots of Huon pine and made some folk art from it.

Have lived in Tassie most of my life, and although my friends and I grumble about the cold in winter there is no other place I would rather live.  The house I currently live in cost significantly less than half a million dollars, has been beautifully renovated, has an enormous block of land and sits on a gentle rise with a magnificent view over the River Derwent and MONA.  MONA is within walking distance of our house so I can visit any time I choose, if I need to go into the Hobart city Centre I can drive there in around 15 minutes and park in one of the Council carparks free for the first 1 and 1/2 hours.  If I need to go in during peak times it would take anywhere up to 1/2 an hour at most.  Tassie grows the best potatoes in Australia according to those who know, and the greatest variety.  Sure, our petrol is a bit dearer, but we don't usually need to travel long distances.  It's nice to go away on holiday, but it's always good to come home again.  I have never been seriously tempted to live anywhere else!

And yes, the above article was definitely tongue in cheek.  We have had traffic lights for as long as I can remember, and most people buying a house will need a mortgage, and as long as they don't buy beyond their means they won't have too much mortgage stress.  But the rest is absolutely true.

Annie and Jenny what lovely posts . 

I intend at 75 to spend six months in Europe and six months South . 

My current inclination as I love city life is London and Sydney but I can certainly see the attractions of Tassie especially Hobart .

11 comments



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