7 common myths (and 3 truths) about Hobart

From big wave riders to Tassie tigers, we let the cat out of the bag on seven popular myths and three surprising facts about Australia’s southernmost city.

A lone surfer riding a high wave at Shipstern Bluff
  • Peta Murray
  • March 2020

The Tassie capital is worth visiting – not just for the food, markets and nature at its doorstep, but for a few other unexpected reasons too (we’re looking at you, surf festivals and MONA)!

Myth 1: There are no surf beaches in Hobart

Just a short drive east of Hobart, you will find a slew of quality surf breaks including Clifton Beach, May’s Point and Rebounds. True surf aficionados should head to the nearby Tasman Peninsula, home of world-famous big-wave break Shipstern Bluff, also known as “Devil’s Point”. Not for the faint-hearted, waves on this shallow reef can reach up to six metres and hold the water equivalent of 27 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Myth 2: Hobart is always cold

While winters in the southern capital can be chilly enough to put snow on watchful kunanyi/Mount Wellington – a great excuse to cosy up to an open fire and drink mulled wine – summer can see the mercury rise with temperatures occasionally known to climb above 40°C.

Two hikers looking out over Hobart from a lookout at Mt Wellington/Kunanyi
It can snow up in Mt Wellington/Kunanyi in winter, but the rest of the year, it is a great hiking spot.

Myth 3: No one famous ever came from Hobart

A who’s who of well-known actors, scientists and even royalty hail from the Tasmanian capital including 20th-century Hollywood star Errol Flynn, Australia’s first female Nobel Prize winner Professor Elizabeth Blackburn and the Crown Princess of Denmark, Mary Donaldson.

Myth 4: Hobart is not a party town

With one pub for every 200 locals back in the 1830s, Hobart has always been a city to kick up its heels. These days the capital offers a multitude of reasons to celebrate, hosting annual events such as Taste of Tasmania food and wine festival, Dark Mofo, the Wooden Boat Festival and, of course, the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.

Crowds of people milling around the waterfront at Hobart Wooden Boat Festival.
The Hobart Wooden Boat festival is just one of a busy events calendar in the city.

Myth 5: The ozone layer above Hobart is gone

Despite the popular belief that Australia’s southernmost state is exposed to higher levels of harmful UV rays due to a “hole” in the atmosphere, the Bureau of Meteorology maintains that this hole or thinning of the ozone has “only ever been observed to be well south of... Tasmania”. Claims that the sun feels stronger in the Apple Isle can probably be put down to the lack of pollution in the air – but visitors should apply the usual safeguards against UV rays with proper sun protection.

People at the beach and on kayaks enjoying summer sunshine in Hobart.
While there is no ozone hole over Hobart, you need to use sun protection when outdoors.

Myth 6: The Tasmanian tiger still exists

Despite persistent reports of Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine, sightings since the marsupial’s extinction more than 80 years ago, there has been “no verifiable evidence” that the animal still roams the island. While some authorities are reluctant to completely give up on the species, the Tasmanian National Parks and Wildlife Service has declared the thylacine “probably extinct”, a victim of hunting. The last known Tasmanian tiger died in captivity in 1936.

Myth 7: Everything in Hobart is old

It is Australia’s second-oldest capital city but Hobart does not rest on its heritage laurels. The first Australian city to have a casino (in 1973), Hobart is also home to the groundbreaking Mona (the Museum of Old and New Art) and a constant parade of new bars and restaurants, while plans are afoot for a cable car up to the city’s highest natural vantage point, kunanyi/Mount Wellington.

Two people looking at an oversized exhibit at Museum of Old and New Art.
MONA is just one of the things that give Hobart a contemporary edge.

And three amazing truths about Hobart

Hobart is one of the only major cities where you can see the southern lights year-round. Its proximity to the south magnetic pole provides front-row seats for the spectacular atmospheric phenomenon aurora australis, or the southern lights. Best viewing spots include Rosny Hill Lookout and kunanyi/Mount Wellington.

Night sky lit up by the Southern Lights
Viewing the Aurora Australis is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Viewing of the southern lights is probably helped by the fact that he air and water in Hobart are among the cleanest of any Australian city, thanks to the “roaring forties”, strong westerly winds that carry clean air from across the Southern Ocean to Tasmania. Cape Grim Peninsula in the north-west of the state is considered to have the “cleanest air on the planet”. Hobart also has very pure H2O.

And finally, Hobart is home to Australia’s oldest brewery. Founded by former convict Peter Degraves, the Cascade Brewery has been producing beer since 1832, making it Australia’s longest continually operating beer manufacturer. Take a guided tour or head straight to the Brewhouse for a bevvy.