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Hobart’s History: From Dark Times to the Place Everyone Wants to Call Home
Hobart has a rich and fascinating history, and there are plenty of historical buildings and monuments to remind us of its often harsh history. After visiting Tasmania, Mark Twain described the area as a “bringing of heaven and hell together.” Today, the people who make their home in Hobart will recognise the “heaven,” but they’d struggle to find the hell. It’s hard to believe that this was once a very harsh land indeed.
Experts believe that there was once a land bridge between the Australian mainland and Tasmania and that the Palawa people, who had been established here for thousands of years before the first explorers arrived, crossed it to reach Tasmania.
Initial contacts between local inhabitants and European explorers were friendly, but settlement and brutal wars were to follow while introduced illnesses caused deadly epidemics among the Palawa. Today, there are very few survivors, but efforts are being made to recover the Palawa language and culture.
Explorers and Convicts
Abel Tasman was the first European explorer to “discover” Tasmania. He dubbed it Van Damien’s Land, but today, the island bears his name. The French were to follow, but neither the French nor the Dutch established any settlements here. It would be the British who would ultimately colonise Tasmania.
In 1803, they settled at Risdon Cove. Convicts, many of whom had been convicted of crimes we would today see as petty, were sent here. But Lieutenant Colonel David Collins did not like Risdon Cove as a settlement location. He moved the settlement to Sullivan’s Cove and established Hobart Town naming it in honour of Lord Robert Hobart.
Survival was very difficult indeed, more so if convicts attempted escape. However, bushranger Martin Cash was one of the few that not only managed to escape, but who was ultimately one of the very few outlaws to die of natural causes at a ripe old age.
Other convicts settled down, gained their freedom and became historical figures owing to their contributions to the establishment of Hobart. The settlement, and later the city, had their hard work to thank for transforming it into a liveable, and indeed, a pleasant place.
1850s to Present Day
In 1853, following the discovery of gold, convict transportation was halted, leading to celebration across Tasmania. The gold rush that followed may have been short-lived, but it set the scene for Hobart. From then on, it would be known as the port that would make Tasmania’s growing variety of exports possible.
Today, Hobart is no longer a place to which people are forced to go, no matter how reluctantly. Instead, it’s a cruise ship destination and a place to which summer visitors flock to enjoy the beauties of Hobart and its surrounds. Tourism is only the second-biggest economic sector, however.
Processed metals top the list of industries, and manufacturing, agriculture, and fisheries all have their influence. Meanwhile, information and communications technology companies have also made their home in Hobart.
Will you be at home in Hobart? We’re confident that you’ll love the pleasant lifestyle it offers today. It’s a far cry from the rough times that characterised its establishment. In fact, it’s hard to believe that having to live here could ever have been seen as a punishment. But it’s thanks to the brave souls that faced Hobart at its worst that we can now enjoy the city at its best.
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We hope you enjoyed this article
The information contained in this article is based on the authors opinion only and is of a general nature which is not indicative of future results or events and does not consider your personal situation or particular needs. Professional advice should always be sought relevant to your circumstances.
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