Salamanca Place

Salamanca Place is a historic docks area of Hobart lined with a long row of simple Georgian sandstone warehouses built in the 1830s. These mellow north-facing buildings once stored grain, wool, whale oil, apples and imported goods from around the world. Rows of Georgian era sandstone warehouses that once serviced the ocean going clippers have been converted into a plaza of restaurants and shop, with pubs, artists, galleries, craft shops and nightlife adding to the relaxed atmosphere of the place after sundown.

Every Saturday, Salamanca Place takes on a totally different look and carnival atmosphere when it hosts the famous Salamanca Markets. Over 300 stallholders congregate to sell produce and crafts from all over Tasmania as buskers, artists and performers keep the crowd entertained. At the northern end of Salamanca Place is St. David's Park, a popular lunchtime relaxation spot for the city's workers. Parliament House adjacent to Salamanca Place.

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Salamanca Markets

One of Australia's best outdoor markets, Salamanca Market takes place every Saturday at Salamanca Place in Hobart. Set between graceful plane trees and the mellow sandstone facades of historic warehouses on Hobart's most picturesque waterside location, Hobart's famous market on Salamanca Place attracts thousands of locals and visitors who come every Saturday to this wonderful event. Over 300 stallholders sell fresh and gourmet produce, arts, crafts and handiwork crafts from all over Tasmania, interstate and overseas.

Unlike some markets which are little more than a dumping ground for cheap and nasty imported goods that have little or no value, Salamanca Market is predominantly a showcase for a wide variety of Tasmanian goods and produce. You can pick up locally hand-made jewellery and trinkets, coffee mugs stamped with your own monicker, framed and photographs of classic tasmanian scenes, clothing (woollen jumpers, scarves and gloves are a must in winter), tableware, clocks and exquisite ballpoint pens made from huon pine or other local timbers, the list goes on ...

In the food line, there are the expected fresh vegetables and fruit, many of which have been grown in the gardens of the stall holders who pick them fresh before coming to the markets. In season the berries are simply superb - take a punnet or two home or back to your hotel with you for a delicious and healthy late evening treat. Then there are cheeses, cakes, pastries, sweets, fruit wines and some yummy chocolates from down Port Arthur way that come in some quite unique combinations of flavours (my personal favourite is apple chocolate!). And if all that leaves you feeling a bit peckish, there are plenty of stalls selling ready to eat snacks and goodies to satisfy your cravings, as well as cafes and coffee shops along Salamanca Place and in Salamanca Square, just behind the street-front shops.

To complete the wonderful carnival atmosphere, there are always a number buskers and musicians who have been placed strategically not only where there is room for shoppers to stop and enjoy their music, but sufficiently far apart so as not to be competing against each other, and in few enough numbers to ensure there are plenty of areas within the markets where you can browse without the sound of music in your ears.

That said, there are some high quality performers who draw listeners like magnets, musicians you wish you could take around the markets with you (or even pop into your car boot and take them home!). Such an artist is guitarist and compser Cary Lewincamp, one of the most loved musical icons of Tasmania, whose music is often identified as the "sound of Tasmanian life". His solo guitar performances have been decribed as "intimate, emotive and passionate, a still point of reference in a world which is becoming an increasingly uncertain place".

Unlike some performers, the inimatcy and passion of his guitar playing is not lost in the market's colourful outdoor setting. Cary is one of Australia's best selling independent artists, yet you can enjoy his warm and evocative music for free as you wander around the markets. His performances alone would justify paying the entry fee to the markets if they had one, but there is no charge to take in the sights, sounds, flavours, action and colour of Tasmania's leading weekly event. No wonder they say "the best things in life are free".

The Story of Salamanca Place

Salamanca Place began to take shape in the late 1820s. The number of ships carrying whale products, import and export goods, immigrants and convicts in and out of port soon proved too much for the Old Wharf at the foot of Hunter Street. The southern end of Sullivans Cove possessed deeper anchorage and better shelter, and in 1830 the Government agreed to build New Wharf where Salamanca Place now exists. New Wharf soon became one of the great whaling ports of the world and as Tasmania s export trades increased, the need for dockside warehouses quickly grew.

Hundreds of convicts that were housed in hulks moored at New Wharf were used to quarry out the cliffs behind Salamanca Place. Convicts were used to cut the stone and build the row of sandstone warehouses that lined New Wharf and now form Salamanca Place.

When whalers began tying up at what then was known as New Wharf, which had been created to Typical of the merchants who helped create Salamanca's classic Georgian streetscape, Askin Morrison was a merchant who arrived in Tasmania in 1829. In the early 1830s he imported a cargo of tea from China that reputedly made him a profit of 10,000 pounds. It is thought that he used this money in 1834 to purchase a parcel of land fronting New Wharf. Morrison immediately built a warehouse on the property (now 65 Salamanca Place), which became the base for his import and export business and where he stored whale oil and products.

Adjacent to Morrison s first warehouse, Richard Willis, a merchant arriving from London in 1834, built himself a warehouse for goods storage, with a covered archway leading to stables in a courtyard at the rear (65b Salamanca Place). Willis imported pianos, wines and silverware until his business collapsed in the 1840s depression. When he lost his building to a creditor, Morrison was quick to purchase it at a bargain price. Captain William Young purchased the vacant block next door and built another warehouse in the same style as Morrison s. Young was a whaler and timber merchant who also owned 600 acres of forested land on Bruny Island. In 1853 he sold his warehouse to Morrison.

The brothers, Hugh and John Addison originally built the two four-storey warehouses (77-79 Salamanca Place) in 1843 on land also purchased from Captain James Kelly. John Addison, an architect, designed the buildings to flank the pre-existing Kelly s Lane.

Throughout the nineteenth century, the whalers had so dramatically diminished the whale populations in the waters surrounding Tasmania that some species were on the brink of extinction. By the late 1800s Hobart s whaling days were over; and, like the warehouses in Hunter Street (where Old Wharf had been), the row of warehouses that lined New Wharf were given new life as fruit processing and jam producing factories. Tasmania s climate was well suited to growing stone fruits and the export market for jam and processed fruit expanded rapidly in the 1890s. During the next 50 years, many Salamanca Place buildings were expanded into each other to accommodate hundreds of workers producing millions of tonnes of jam and tinned fruit for export all over the world.

Jam and tinned fruit sales slowed through the 1960s, and many of the warehouses fell into a state of decline, with various buildings and floors rented out and others remaining unoccupied for years. The boom years that gave Tasmania its identity as The Apple Isle  lasted until Britain finally entered the European Common Market in 1971 and Tasmania s main fruit export market collapsed as a result.

In 1972, Australian corporate giant, John Elliott, purchased Henry Jones IXL, Peacock s parent company. By 1974 the Peacock Factory on Salamanca Place had been closed down and was on the market. Within a few months, a group of visionary locals including Claudio Alcorso (one of Tasmania s great arts advocates) saw in the buildings the potential to establish a vibrant community and arts centre in Hobart s working port area. They formed the Community and Art Centre Foundation, established objectives for the potential Centre and pressured the State Government to purchase the old Peacock Factory. The Salamanca Arts Centre came into being in 1976 when the State Government, led by Premier Bill Neilsen, purchased the seven historic sandstone warehouses in Hobart s Salamanca Place (along with a cottage in Kelly Street) for the people of Tasmania.

The Government leased the buildings to the Foundation for 99 years at a peppercorn rent. In exchange, the Foundation was responsible for repairing and maintaining the dilapidated buildings and managing a range of diverse arts programs and events, funded through space and venue hire to artists, arts organisations and commercial tenants. Teams of committed and tireless volunteers moved in to clean out nearly 200 years of industrial dust and grime and bring the buildings back to life.

Abel Tasman Monument

This finely detailed memorial commemorates the Dutch explorer who named Van Diemans Land. On 24 November 1642 he sighted the west coast of Tasmania probably near Macquarie Harbour. The land was named Antony Van Diemen's Land after the Governor-General of the Dutch Indies. It was later renamed Tasmania in Tasman's honour.

Proceeding south Tasman skirted the southern end of Tasmania and turned north-east until he was off Cape Frederick Henry on Forestier`s Peninsula. An attempt at landing was made but the sea was too rough. The carpenter, however, swam through the surf and planting a flag took formal possession of the land on 3 December 1642. Tasman had intended to proceed in a northerly direction but as the wind was unfavourable he steered east, and on 13 December sighted land on the north-west coast of South Island, New Zealand.

St David's Park

A short walk up from Salamanca Place, St David's Park is located on the site of St David's cemetery. St David's Park is a formal English style walled park and dates from the beginning of European settlement in 1804. This was the site of the first burial ground in Tasmania, marked out by Lieutenant-Governor David Collins and the Reverend Robert Knopwood in April 1804.

At that time the burial ground was 'a place of real seclusion and rare beauty' crossed by two crystal streams with fine old blackwood trees dotted through the groves of wattle on the high ground, located away from the main settlement and surrounded by an 'exquisite natural shrubbery'. It was called St David's Cemetery as a mark of respect to the memory of the Colony's founding Lt Governor, Lt Col David Collins. Collins himself was buried there in March 1810. About a year afterwards the first church in Tasmania was built on the spot, with its altar directly above his grave. The opening of the Cornelian Bay cemetery in 1872 allowed St Davids and all the other burial grounds within the city to be closed.

A register compiled at the time shows that at least 900 people were once buried under the lush green turf of St David's Park. Some were reburied at Cornelian Bay, most were allowed to sleep on under the now carefully-tended gardens and lawns. Now only a few of the more important memorials remain - including David Collins, first Lieutenant Governor, interred in a casket of Huon pine.

The park was laid out in its present format in 1926 and contains numerous memorials, including the Anglesea Barracks Memorial Wall, Norfolk Islanders and Firtst Fleet convicts who came to Tasmania and were buried here. The gravestones and memorials in the park include those of Lieut. Governor David Collins who established the colony at Hobart; author and colonial secretary James Ebenezer Bicheno; Lachlan M Sorell, the infant son of Lt Governor Sorell; Sir John Eardley-Wilmot, Lieut. Governor in 1840s. A major feature of the park is the memorial wall which is made up of many of the original headstones from the park s previous life as the Hobart colony s first cemetery. It contains the names and details of many First Fleeters  and many of the early settlers of Hobart Town.

The lion sculptures at the entrance were restored as a bicentennial gift to the people of Hobart from the Australian and New Zealand Banking Group Limited which erected them here jointly with the corporation of the city of Hobart in 1988. The lions were carved in a tent on the foot path in 1884 by Richard Patterson to serve over the entrance to the Bank of Van Diemen s Land. The lions were then displayed at Port Arthur under the care of the Tasmanian Government until 1988.

A stroll around the park's wall of headstones gives a poignant picture of life and death in the colony's early days as there are many headstones for children from those days when children s life expectancy was not very high. There are also memorials to those settlers who came from Norfolk Island to become part of the new settlement in 1807. Location: Cnr Davey Street and Sandy Bay Road, Hobart.

Prince's Park

Walk east along Salamanca Place and you will find yourself in Prince's Park. Originally part of the strategic Mulgrave Battery in 1818, it was renamed Prince of Wales Battery in 1855 when and expanded to include the Prince Albert Battery higher on the hill. The modern Hobart suburb of Battery Point takes its name from the Mulgrave Battery. The original guardhouse, built in 1818 which had been located nearby is the oldest building in Battery Point, and one of the oldest buildings still standing in Tasmania. A tunnel system is still available for tour visits. The iron gate sealing the entrance to the tunnels and underground magazine rooms can still be seen at the base of the park.

Mulgrave Battery, 1889

Historic signs mingle with children s playground equipment. The sun dial in the park is very accurate.

Hobart Semaphore Station

The Hobart semaphore is located at the Mulgrave Battery in Castray Esplanade in Battery Point, built to aid shipping in and out of Hobart. The signal station at Mt Nelson was the first to be constructed in Tasmania. Built on the order of Governor Macquarie in 1811 as a station to report shipping in and out of the Port of Hobart, it replaced the use of smoke signals at Betsey Island. The station was to play an important role in maritime communications for the next 158 years.

Signalling was initially done using flags, however by 1831, a three-armed semaphore (an upright post with arms) was operating which was capable of dealing with 666 code signals. This was replaced in 1838 by a six-armed semaphore over 24 metres high which could handle over 900 000 separate signals. In 1836 the station was linked into the Tasman Peninsula system. Through this network of of semaphore stations, messages could be rapidly relayed from the penal settlement at Port Arthur to Hobart.

Empress of Australia Ferry Wharf

Across the from Prince's Park near the end of Princes Wharf is the remains of a ferry terminal built to service a car ferry service which once operated between Hobart and Sydney. Adjacent to the wharf is a lifting ramp used to allow cars access to the ferry's motor vehicle deck. Over the years, two attempts have been made to operate a car and passenger ferry service between Sydney and Tasmania, but with limited success. The first was with the Empress of Australia, for which this terminal was constructed. The vessel was custom built at Sydney's Cockatoo Island Dockyards in 1962 for Australian National Line, to provide a ferry serice between Sydney (the terminal was at Morts Bay, Balmain) and Hobart via Devonport and Burnie. It had a gross weight of 12,037 tonnes, and was the largest vessel of this type in the world when built while its route was one of the longest open water routes in the world for a vessel of this type. It could carry 250 passengers, 51 cars and 33 semi trailers (or 91 cars and 16 trucks) and travelled at an average speed of 17.5 knots.

Empress of Australia sailed between Sydney and Hobart three times each fortnight. Trade never reached expectations, and in 1972, the vessel was transferred to the Melbourne-Devonport run, replacing the Princess of Tasmania which was sold. The Empress of Australia continued to visit Hobart during the summer tourist season. Empress of Australia was sold 1985 after 20 years of service, and renamed Royal Pacific. She sank in the Malacca Strait, in 1991 after colliding with a Taiwanese fishing vessel.

MV. Empress of Australia berthed at the wharf in January 1975.

Spirit of Tasmania III was introduced in January 2003, reviving the Sydney to Tasmania service, however it did not visit Hobart, instead docking at Devonport with its two sister vessels. It made the 22 hour journey between Darling Harbour, Sydney, and Devonport three times a week. Like Princess of Tasmania three decade earlier, the Sydney-Tasmania service was initially a success but rising costs, an air fare war and a general slowing down of the tourist trade resulted in the vessel running regularly at below half capacity. This led to the withdrawal of the service in August 2006.

The name
The name Salamanca Place recalls a town in Spain which the Allied army led by the Duke of Wellington took on 17th June 1812 during the Peninsula War (1808-14). Nearby Castray Esplanade recalls Luke Richard Castray, Tasmanian Commissioner General who conceived and designed that road to link Hobart's wharves and Battery Point.

How to get there:
From city centre, walk south down any cross street to Franklin Wharf, then head right towards Castray Esplanade.