My companion in all things travel had visited Hobart for a conference a few years before our 2021 visit and had been offered the opportunity to visit the top of Mt Wellington as a recreational event as part of the weekend. The event was not just to take in the view, but to ride by bike down the mountain road from the top to the bottom. She wanted to repeat this experience with me and she was convinced I would love it. When we discovered that this activity was only a summer experience, I hid my disappointment convincingly. We would have to make do with car transport up and back.
As the photo that heads this blog indicates, Mt Wellington looms in the background of Hobart. It is where the state’s weather stations are built but it doesn’t take much interpretation when you can look out your Hobart window and see snow on the mountain. On our last two days in Hobart, the top of Mt Wellington was covered in snow. The drive to Mt Wellington takes around 23 minutes being only 17 Kms; we were up the top of Mt Wellington taking in the great views and the cold winds before we knew it. The most distinctive feature of the mountain when examining it from Hobart is the cliff underneath the lookout area known as the ‘Organ Pipes’; is an impressive series of dolerite columns.
Like so many other tourist sites around Tasmania, the visitor facilities are first class on top of Mt Wellington. There is an enclosed lookout with 300 degree views of Hobart and the surrounding waterways. On the back wall of this facility are many information boards. One of these told the story of Charles Darwin’s arrival in Hobart in 1836 as part of his around the world trip on his ship the Beagle. Darwin was no effete British aristocrat; he climbed Mt Wellington and recorded details of his visit in his book, The Voyage of the Beagle.
“…The summit of the mountain is broad and flat, and is composed of huge angular masses of naked greenstone. Its elevation is 3,100 feet [940 m] above the level of the sea. The day was splendidly clear, and we enjoyed a most extensive view; to the north, the country appeared a mass of wooded mountains, of about the same height with that on which we were standing, and with an equally tame outline: to the south the broken land and water, forming many intricate bays, was mapped with clearness before us. …”
In the early years of European settlement of Hobart, this mountain had a number of names before eventually being named Mt Wellington. This name comes from the victory over Napoleon in 1815, honouring the Duke of Wellington for his leadership role in the Battle of Waterloo. In 2013 the Tasmanian Government announced a “dual naming” policy of many Tasmanian geographical features and this mountain next to Hobart was first cab off the rank being given the extra name of Kunanyi, the name preferred by local indigenous people.
The photo to the left shows the main radio and Television transmitter on the mountain, situated behind the lookout building.
The photo above of the lookout shelter also gives a good idea of the boardwalks that are available these days to explore the top of the mountain without breaking ankles on the many boulders. Over our few days staying in Hobart, we spent time exploring the waterways to the south of Hobart so our trip to the top of Mt Wellington/Kunanyi was very useful for reconnoitering our future drives.
It was a great start to our day with a visit to the top of this famous mountain overlooking Hobart. I was only too pleased that I didn’t have to get back to the bottom of the mountain by bike. With a lot of discipline of my nervous system, I probably could have done the bike ride…what I couldn’t have done was what the character in the photo below right is doing; climbing one of the organ pipes bare handed without ropes. There are clearly aliens among us!