This post and the one that follows, both from our recent visit to Hobart, are about the old, the new, and the old complemented by the new.
From humble beginnings more than 40 years ago, the heritage precinct of Salamanca Place has become the most popular destination for persons visiting Hobart, rivalled only by the natural beauty of Mount Wellington, the peak that overlooks the city.
Initially, the revival of what had been an area of buildings housing port-related business activities was stimulated by artisans and craftspersons. This is a familiar theme of ‘downtown’ renewal across the globe. In the 1970s, the concentration of small art & craft ventures helped to underpin the establishment of a Saturday event – the Salamanca Market. Now held weekly, it has become the best and best-known event of its kind in Australia and a must-see on the list of most visitors to Hobart; we were no exception!
The range of goods – art, craft, food and more – was remarkable and the quality was very good on the whole; Maggie was as happy as a pig in the proverbial. Our favourite stall was the one built around Bruny Island Cheese and the famous Matthew Evans was there spruiking both the cheese and his own line of smallgoods. There was even a small queue of women, mainly, waiting to have him sign and sell a copy of one of his books and pose with them for a happy snap!
In the end, we shopped lightly: a piece of cheese to carry home on our afternoon flight; fruit pastes to go with said cheese; a beetroot & feta tart, to be eaten before said flight; a beautiful serving/cutting board made from salvaged Huon Pine, to be given to Julian & Sara; knitting needles made from local wood – Maggie has plans to make some rustic scarves; and a handmade pyjama pouch in the form of a sheep. (When I say “lightly”, I mean the impact on our credit rating was lighter than I had anticipated!)
The last time I had visited Salamanca Place was in January 1997, when I had taken Julian on a 17-day visit to Tasmania. Not surprisingly, there had been some changes during the intervening two decades. The most significant of these was the creation of a public square behind the main line of 19th Century buildings, backed by the erection of two modern buildings, one with cafes and gift shops on the ground floor, then two storeys of apartments, the other with restaurants and bars on the ground floor, topped with three storeys of offices. The latter included a new head office for the main Hobart newspaper.
The benefits of these developments, which in appearance neither enhance nor detract from the virtues of the adjacent heritage buildings, include the extra volume of potential customers for a burgeoning food and beverage offering, and a suitable backdrop for contemporary works of art. This ‘newshound’ with camera is one of several striking pieces permanently established around the new square.
So, in 2016, there is much to see and enjoy in Salamanca Place. During our time in Hobart, we spent part of three of our four days there, which was sufficient but not at all repetitive.