Are You from Hobart? Check This OutAugust 20, 2014

Hobart, the state capital of Tasmania, was once a penal colony. But those days were long gone.

This southern metropolis don't get a fair share of the headline, as Sydney and Melbourne often vie for top billing. But Hobartains would insist that their place is no less interesting. The reasons might surprise many.

Here they are:

Hobart is Australia's second oldest capital city after Sydney. You don't need to know Australian history in its entirety to believe this. Prisoners must be separated from the general populace, and Tasmania, the largest isle off the Australian mainland, was an ideal location. It was the year 1803 when the penal settlement began. The city was initially known as Hobarton, named after Lord Hobart, the Colonial Secretary. It only took a few decades before the number of white settlers increased. This was followed by the declaration of cityhood on August 21, 1842. This was one of the many tales that made up Hobart's celebrated past.

The Mountain is Hobart's top attraction. Millions of tourists visit Sydney and Melbourne every year. Hobart is sometimes overlooked, which is unfortunate. The city is nestled on the foot of Mount Wellington, the highest point in Tasmania. The vista of Hobart and the Mountain, as the locals call it, is breathtaking especially during winter time. (It's too bad that the residents rarely experience a White Christmas.) The most distinctive feature of the Mountain is a cliff of dolerite columns known as the Organ Pipes. Only a daring soul will get excited.

Errol Flynn is from Hobart. Hobart has a long list of notable residents, and Errol Flynn is the most famous of them all. The Hollywood star was a classmate of John Gorton, the former prime minister. The actor once boasted that he was a descendant of Bounty mutineers, but not a few disputed that. (You couldn't blamed him for saying that, which may be his way of not denying the fact that Tasmania was once a penal settlement.) Flynn became famous for escapist epics, notably "The Adventures of Robin Hood" (1938), his career ended when moviegoers clamoured for film noir. He then embarked on a life of seafaring, writing books about his adventures.

Antarctica is not far away. It's in Hobart where the Australian and French Antarctic operations are based. This is not surprising, considering the promixity of Tasmania to Antarctica. Australia is one of the twelve countries that have significant interests in the continent. There's still much to explore, which seems hard to believe. The reason is pretty obvious.

Go to the centre. Theatre Royal is one of the oldest establishements in Hobart. It's the centre of Hobart's social life, the place where people from all walks of life meet. (In the old days, the theatre was near the area of brothels, factories, and pubs.) Artists like Noël Coward launched a national appeal to keep it from closing down. Nowadays, it's a place not to be missed.

Let us know if we miss anything.

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