Hobart is Australia’s second oldest capital and the largest city in Tasmania, yet it often feels more like a big village, reflecting the overall compact nature of the Apple Isle. Hobart’s centre and nearby surrounds are endlessly walkable and the sites are reassuringly familiar after just a day or two of exploring, gaining one’s bearings against the deep waters of the harbour on one side and the dolerite peaks of Mount Wellington on the other.
One of the most historic enclaves of central Hobart – Battery Point – sits a short walk above the old sandstone buildings that line the popular Salamanca waterfront parade.
It’s the birthplace of silver screen legend Errol Flynn with historic roots evident everywhere you turn, from the Georgian mansions of former shipping barons to diminutive workmen’s cottages lining the narrow lanes and the old officers’ quarters that surround the quaint Arthur’s Circus (Australia’s only one).
This well-to-do neighbourhood is named for the 19th-century gun battery that once graced the local promontory and, thankfully, the neighbourhood has retained its old-world charm, even though the main thoroughfare of Hampden Road is now home to some of Hobart’s best and most-loved Hampden Road eateries and cafes.
To reach Hampden Road by foot (the best way to explore the area), climb the Kelly Steps from Salamanca Place and continue straight ahead at the top of the stairs until the end of Kelly Street, where you run into Hampden Road.
You’ll be rewarded for your efforts with exceptional coffee and some of the best house-made meals and baked goods from one of the highest concentration of cool local haunts in town.
The gem of the Hampden Street scene is arguably Jackman and McRoss (57 Hampden Road, +61 (0)3 6223 31 86), a Hobart institution that creates some of the most tantalising pastries and baked goods this side of Paris.
Their meat pies are a highlight, often using local ingredients (like wallaby and scallop) enveloped in impossibly flaky buttery crust.
It’s bustling during the weekend breakfast rush, when locals in a mix of Patagonia and high-fashion gear meet for a leisurely chat over a flat white in the cosy dining room or one of the cafe tables that line the pavement.
More Hampden Road eateries
Jam Jar Lounge (45 Hampden Road, +61 (0)3 6224 1447) is equally skilled at making your morning cappuccino with locally roasted Villino beans.
Its chalkboard-paint walls, mix of communal-style and bistro tables and general store-style display of local wines, tea and coffee create an inviting atmosphere.
The iconic savoury Jaffles (toastie sandwiches with sealed edges) are the ideal takeaway en-route to a morning hike on one of Mount Wellington’s pristine trails.
Weekend nights see locals flock to Jam Jar Lounge for Japanese ramen and tapas alongside a well-edited selection of Tassie wines and live Jazz on Sundays. Things like bread, jam, butter and bacon are all house made.
If you prefer your morning caffeine jolt from leaves not beans, the Pollen Tea Room (56 Hampden Road) offers up organic and ethically sourced teas and is renowned for its house-made chai.
It’s the local’s source for the most delectable organic, local, seasonal, raw, gluten-free, sugar-free, vegan treats in Tasmania — raw raspberry cashew cheesecake, chia seed porridge, raw brownies.
Local brands, like Good Brew solar-brewed Kombucha, are available as is a gorgeous selection of teaware for sale.
Pollen Tea Room is two doors down from Nabe Hashi (60 Hampden Road, +61 (0)413 414 520), a maison de sukiyaki or house of hot pot. Nabe in Japanese means “cooking pot”, which is where your meals will be prepared, right at your table from ingredients of your choice.
Only serving dinner from Thursday to Sunday night, this tiny BYOB (no corkage) is bustling when it’s open. Pick up a bottle of Tassie pinot noir at Cool Wine (Shop 8, Mid City Arcade, Criterion Street, Hobart, +61 (0)3 6231 4000)and head here for a hearty, healthy Japanese meal.
Da’Angelo (47 Hampden Road, +61 (0)3 6223 7011) is the local Italian spot where you’ll find the lightest and fluffiest gnocchi, handmade by the owner’s Italian mama daily.
Like the other quality places on Hampden Road, you can get an excellent glass of Tassie or Italian wines to perfectly complement the handmade pasta and wood oven-fired pizzas that keep this place packed every night.
Co-owner Angelo is a regular friendly face at the front of house. Open for dinner seven days a week, this is your best bet for a satisfying meal on a Monday night in Battery Point.
It’s not always easy to find good Indian food in Australia (you can find it, it’s just not easy), but Magic Curries (41 Hampden Road, +61 (03) 6223 4500) offers up well done typical dishes alongside some of the more delicious Indian vegetarian fare, a bevy of tandoori breads and pickles to complement your Korma and Vindaloo.
They too serve an array of Tassie wines and beers, keeping with the local theme. And Kathmandu (22 Francis Street, +61 (0)3 6224 8800) is the only restaurant in Hobart dedicated to the cuisine of Nepal and Tibet.
Like most of the places on Hampden Road, both restaurants have small floor plans and intimate settings. Licensed and BYO (wine only), the momo (Nepalese steamed dumplings) are a house speciality and the Thakali Khana is a great way to sample the curries, Kathmandu is also, notably, halal, so for those inclined the Sekuwa (grilled meats) should be fair game.
If what you’re really after is a simple pint, the Shipwrights Arms (29 Trumpeter Street) – better known as Shippies and one of the oldest and cosiest pubs in Hobart – boasts a wood-burning fire to warm your bones on chilly Hobart nights, a refreshing lack of blaring music and a selection of local Cascade ales on tap.
Long-time locals and visitors alike frequent this historic watering hole, particularly during the annual Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.
The other popular Battery Point watering hole is Preachers, young and hip, serving a wide variety of Tasmanian microbrews and ciders (5 Knopwood Street, +61 (0)3 6223 3621) with a popular beer garden and a creatively incorporated bus as part of its decor. Neither are on Hampden Road but both are worth the short walk.
Once you’ve filled up on food and drink, take a postprandial walk to the far end of Hampden Road near Davey Street to wander through one of two museums on Hampden Road.
Georgian revival Narryna Heritage Museum (103 Hampden Road, +61 (0)3 6234 2791) is filled with Tasmanian fine and decorative arts that tell the tale of the region’s mercantile and maritime roots while the Markree House Museum (145 Hampden Road, +61 (03) 6165 7000) is a window into the arts and crafts period in Hobart. The two museums are only separated by 200 meters but were built 86 years apart, offering up unique perspectives into Hobart’s history.