First chapter of a multi-part series featuring photography from the Australian island of Tasmania.
I have always wanted to see Tasmania. As a child, I would dream of this unimaginably far away island, its otherwordly landscape and strange wildlife. Even though, at that point, I had never even seen pictures of the place, I knew that a place so distant and remote had to be unique in many ways. After seeing the film The Hunter, in which Willem Dafoe searches the Tasmanian highlands for the elusive Thylacine (or Tasmanian Tiger), I was finally able to picture the landscape, the people, and the wildlife of this mysterious land, and my desire to visit Tasmania grew day by day, until this January finally my wife and I travelled 16.900 kilometres and over 36 hours to reach the island. A thoroughly planned out counterclockwise two-week road trip would take us through some of the most unique, unspoilt and uncommon landscapes of this planet. The starting base was Hobart, the capital and largest city of Tasmania.
Almost half of Tasmanias population lives in this city of roughly 220.000 people, initially founded as a penal colony for some of the worst criminals of the British Empire in 1804. It soon became an important port for the whaling industry, and as one of the worlds deepest seawater ports, a major wharf and shipbuilding location of the colonial age. After the World Wars, the city underwent quite a literal transformation. Today, Hobart bears the reputation of a creative, young-hearted place with a rich history. A regular stop for huge cruise ships from the Australian mainland, bringing hundreds of tourists, as well as a starting hub for adventurers, backpackers, and other modern-day explorers. The city centre is located at the harbour, and called Hobart CBD (Central Business District). Pubs, restaurants, art galleries, local food retailers, surf shops, museums, and countless hotels make this the lively heart of the city.
Nearer by the jetties of the harbour, where an icy subantarctic wind blowing from the Southern Ocean attempts to freeze your face as you gaze down Sullivans Cove, humans and seagulls battle for delicious and freshly caught fish sold straight from the boats. The whole of Tasmania is famous for sometimes going through “four seasons in a single day”. Therefore, even in the peak of summer, it can get really cold, and temperature drops of 15 degrees in one day are not a rarity. I had never felt such cold winds on a warm Summer day before, and the fact that the next major landscape further south is the Antarctic continent some 3000km away, really made itself felt. Due to its southerly location, Hobart forms the Australian gateway to the Antarctic, so several expedition and research organisations have their base offices in Hobart. All across the harbour, there are several antique ships and dozens of gorgeous fishing boats in the harbour.
On the hillside to the south of the CBD is Battery Point. A quiet residential area with gourmet restaurants and some of the oldest houses in Hobart. As you roam its small streets, you pass quaint cottages and boutique cafés. Descend from here into the city, and you reach Salamanca, with its proud square, a fantastic book shop, and hip bars. Every Saturday, it is host to a market famous for local produce. Sitting in one of the Salamanca pubs, sipping on some locally produced ginger beer or whiskey, munching away on a 100% organic lamb burger, and watching scores of tourists pass by every second, the fact that this is one of the most remote cities of the modern world remains indeed a distant thought.
Wherever you are in Hobart, things feel more like a European seaside town while the attitude and pace of the people remain truly Australian in a friendly, casual but very efficient way. Nothing seems to suggest that you have reached a land that retains some of the worlds most unique vegetation and ecosystem just less than an hour away. More on that soon.
Photographs taken with a Leica M6, on Kodak Portra 400 and Ilford Delta 100 35mm film. Developed and scanned by meinfilmlab.de.