Sullivan's Cove


Location: Argyle Street, Hobart.
History seeps from the stones on Hobart s waterfront, where colonial buildings are now galleries and where you can eat fresh seafood and watch a famous yacht race.

Ever since Hobart was founded in 1804, Sullivans Cove has been its dock area. The cove area itself is now known as Macquarie Wharf and still serves as the main port for the city. As one of Australia's finest deepwater ports, the River Derwent became the centre of the Southern Ocean whaling and the sealing trade, Sullivans Cove rapidly grew into a major port, with allied industries such as shipbuilding.

Sullivans Cove still holds large historical and sentimental value for the city; it is here that the migrant forefathers of many present-day Tasmanians first came ashore to begin a new life, and it is here where most tours and sea journeys around the shores of southern Tasmania begin and end, the most well known being the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, which finishes with celebratory champagne at Constitution Dock every December. For visitors, it has become a place to meet, to select a tour or trip or join others in one of the many eateries dotted around its shores.

Take your time as you explore this historic area that fuses the old and new. Admire the Georgian sandstone warehouses lining the dock that were built in the 1830s. These buildings were once used to store wool, grain and whale oil but are now converted into businesses, galleries and restaurants. At the north of the waterfront is the Gasworks Village where you can browse galleries and craft shops and sample whisky at the distillery.

Walk along the water's edge and see the historical features of the dock. Look out for the Hobart Heritage Steam Crane that was built in 1899 and the 1935 drawbridge that still operates today.

A trip to Constitution Dock would not be complete without experiencing the fresh seafood. Dine at one of the restaurants on the water or pick up some of the day's catch from the local fishermen. If you are here just after Christmas, experience the thrill of the classic international Sydney to Hobart yacht race. Constitution Dock is located at the southeast end of Franklin Wharf, on Sullivan's Cove, and is a 5-minute walk from the city centre.

1858 Map of Hobart Town

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Constitution Dock


Constitution Dock is the harbour-side dock area of Hobart. The dock consists of a rock-walled marina with an opening for boats. The dock is normally used by motor pleasure boats, yachts, and fishing boats serving the city's fish market and restaurants, several of which are at the northern end of the dock.

Constitution Dock is famous for being the rallying point and party venue for the annual Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, held from Boxing Day (the day after Christmas Day) until yachts complete their 630 nautical mile journey from Sydney.

The Bascule Bridge at Constitution Dock was built in 1935 to the design of HR Hutchison, consulting engineer, Hobat. A single-lane road bridge, with clearances the same as the tunnel in the railway line between Hobart and Launceston, to enable loading direct from ship to rail, it was built of mild steel structural sections with cast iron gearing and rails. The dimensions and operation of the bridge imposes limitations on modern traffic, its use by heavier folk lifts and larger cranes being precluded. The bridge is normally closed, allowing pedestrian access around the dock.
Victoria Dock




Victoria Dock is a key dock for Australian Antarctic supply vessels and one of the oldest docks in Tasmania. It is also the home dock of most of Tasmanian fishing commercial boats which ply their trade along the state's coasts. Victoria Dock was built in 1804. Victoria Dock also has restaurants which sell fresh seafood caught by local fishermen.

Originally built as a single lane bridge, the present swing bridge at the entrance to Victoria Dock was designed by the Marine Board in 1960 and the running gear was replaced in 1976. The rotation is achieved by mounting the bridge on a crane slew ring of 2,130 mm pitch circle diameter.

Site of the Beginnings of Hobart


Founded on convict labour, it was at Sullivan's Cove that the first successful attempt to establish a permanent European colony in Van Diemen's Land was made. From these early beginnings, the Hunter Street site evolved into Tasmania's principal trading port in the mid-nineteenth century. The growth of the port was fundamental to the growth of the city of Hobart and it was here where large-scale commercial and industrial development took place, coexisting with residential life.

The first european settlement in the Hobart area at what was to become Hobart was by the British at Risdon Cove on the eastern bank of the Derwent estuary in 1803, by a small party sent from Sydney, under Lt. John Bowen. An alternative settlement was established by Captain David Collins 5 km to the south in 1804 in Sullivan's Cove on the western side of the Derwent, where fresh water was more plentiful. Collins and his fellow settlers moved to Tasmania upon abandoning a settlement on Mornington Peninsula on Port Phillip Bay. The day after they arrived there William Collins with Deputy-Surveyor G. P. Harris sought a site more suitable than that at Risdon for a township; they recommended the cove on which Hobart now stands, and the lieutenant-governor approved. The new settlement became known as Hobart Town or Hobarton, later shortened to Hobart, after the British Colonial Secretary of the time, Lord Hobart. The settlement at Risdon was later abandoned.

Lieutenant-governor Collins wanted to retain the energetic, efficient and highly appreciated services of William Collins, so he appointed him harbour-master from 2 April 1804 at 15s. a day. William Collins then made a further examination of the River Derwent, reported on the Huon River, set up a look-out on Betsy Island, submitted a scheme for making Hobart Town the centre of a South Sea sperm whale fishery and supervised the construction of a wharf on Hunter's Island. The boat crews organised huts and other accommodation on the Domain side of the Hobart Rivulet near Hunter Island.


Hobart's Lost Island


Hobart's Hunter Street is not only the site where Hobart had its beginnings, but the location of a tiny rocky island which once stood out from the main shore of Sullivans Cove, and was given the name Hunter's Island. The island's partially isolated and relatively secure location made it a logical site for storage and the colony's first Government Stores was built there in July 1804. The site proved to be quite impractical. Access to the Stores on Hunters Island was only via a tidal sandbar that linked this small lump of rock with the shore, which was half the time under water.

In the earliest years, all cargo arriving into or departing Hobart did so at Old Wharf next to Hunter Island. Men waded across the shallow channel or along the sandbar and women were carried in sedan chairs by able seamen (the prettier the woman, the longer the crossing apparently). The 'landing' where they came ashore was next to the Hope and Anchor Hotel in Market Street. At that time, the hotel had not been built, but the first cottages behind the landing were already in position to take advantage from any trade arising from new arrivals.

In 1820 a stone causeway was built to link the island to the main shore of Hobart. and port activities increased dramatically. More than 65,000 convicts took their first steps into the penal colony at Old Wharf, jostling for room with whalers, seamen and merchants as they were marched in chains to their barracks in the town centre.

As commercial interests developed, Hunter Island became the logical site for warehouses and became the business centre for the import and export of goods through Hobart. The old causeway to the island, became Hunter Street, the town's major business precinct.

In 1822, with G. F. Read as his partner, Walter Angus Bethune was among the first to build a warehouse on Hunter Island. In the next four years he exported 320 tons of oil and 10 tons of whalebone, and he claimed to have loaded four ships in 1827 with colonial produce for London and exported 8000 bushels (214 tons) of wheat to Sydney and Isle of France (Mauiritius). Some of the Georgian buildings which line Hunter Street today date from 1825 and are among the original Hunter Island warehouses. The oldest of these was the residence of George Peacock, who established the jam business that would become IXL.

In just 40 years, a tent colony where survival was a struggle was transformed into a busy base for fishing, trade and transport. By the time Parliament House was completed and Hobart town is proclaimed a city in 1842, Hunter Island had disappeared. The area around had been filled in during the construction of the many wharves built around Sullivans Cove, erected to handle the increasing amount of goods and people passing through the port.

In 1882, a mix of original Hunter Island warehouses and those rebuilt in the later half of the nineteenth century in the same austere Georgian style were incorporated into Peacock's jam-making enterprise. Ten years later, Henry Jones and his two partners bought out the failing business. Over the next 35 years, Jones's IXL brand became a household name around the world. At the time of his death in 1926, the Henry Jones and Co jam empire establishment stretched 300 metres along Hunter Street, from the purpose-built 1911 production factory at its eastern limit (now the University of Tasmania's School of Art) to Davey Street at its western end. Many of the buildings also extended north to Evans Street, parallel to Hunter Street, one street back from the cove.


Louis Bernacchi Monument


The statue and associated sculptures on the waterfront is a tribute to the Tasmanian Antarctic explorer Louis Bernacchi. The sculpture is named "Self portrait, Louis and Joe", and shows Louis Bernacchi posing with his dog in front of an old-style camera. Bernacchi voyaged from Plymouth to Hobart as a seven year old and was educated at the Hutchins School in Hobart before studying astronomy, magnetism, meteorology and physics at Melbourne Observatory. He became a physicist trained in astronomy and terrestrial magnetism. As a member of Borchgrevink's 1898-1900 Southern Cross expedition he endured the first winter on the Antarctic continent and collected a complete set of magnetic data over an annual cycle. He became the first Australian to work and winter in Antarctica.

Bernacchi also took the photographs that illustrate his book and Borchgrevink's "First on the Antarctic Continent". The results are really the first comprehensive collection of photographs of an expedition that was not ship based and portraying continental Antarctica. Later he was recruited as physicist for Captain R. F. Scott`s British National Antarctic Expedition (1901-04); he was regarded as a tireless and energetic observer and a 'cheerful and loyal friend' to all the party. His scientific writings and Scott's published views testify to the value of his work, and he was awarded the Royal Geographical Society and the King`s Antarctic medals as well as the French Cross of the Legion d'honneur (1906)



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