This fabulous Hobart hop on hop off bus tour is a great way to get your bearings on arrival in the Tasmanian capital. Hop on and off as many times as you like at the 20 designated stops. The tour route covers most of the city’s most popular sights and tourist attractions. Duration: 24/48 hours
Best price guarantee: If you find this tour elsewhere at a cheaper price, we will beat it by 10%. Some conditions apply. There are no booking or credit card fees when you book this tour with The Big Bus tour and travel guide.
Whether you want to get the lie of the land in an unfamiliar city, or need some wheels to take you to its best attractions, hop on hop off tourist bus services are often the easiest and most affordable solution.
Red Decker operates the iconic Hobart hop on hop off bus tour, which takes in 20 of the Tasmanian capital’s tourist hot spots. If you’re lucky, Graeme will be at the helm. On a chilly midwinter morning he greets me with the calm, courteous manner that has kept his passengers happy for decades, and soon reveals remarkable skill and patience too. Whether guiding his big red bus through Battery Point’s narrow streets, or along the Tasman Highway for a brief stretch, Graeme keeps the ride as smooth as a Tassie single malt whisky.
I climb aboard at Stop A: the Tasmanian Travel and Information Centre in Hobart’s CBD. A convenient place to pick up brochures and book activities, it’s also where the Red Decker figure-eight route begins, pauses mid-way, and ends after the full 90-minute circuit.
Despite the nippy conditions, I’m not the only one braving the open upper deck. It’s from up here that you get the best views of Hobart’s heritage architecture, gardens and Derwent River — so rug up! The initial stops are within this majestic waterway’s historic heartland — Sullivans Cove. First is the terminal for catching a ferry to Hobart’s extraordinary Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), then Salamanca Place, where a string of venerable sea merchant warehouses have been transformed into Hobart’s favourite places to drink and dine. Australia’s most famous street market takes over every Saturday.
Recorded commentary keeps us well informed along the route. It’s available in seven languages using the complementary headphones and sockets at each seat. The commentary covers everything from which stop is coming up to points of interest along the way, such as a historic semaphore telegraph. It’s both practical and interesting — especially for anyone fascinated by history.
There’s no shortage of that on show through the Battery Point district, where much of this colonial port city’s 19th century architecture remains handsomely intact. From sailors’ modest cottages to the fine homes of sea captains and ship builders, it’s a real opportunity to step back in time.
After pausing at Wrest Point Casino and Sandy Bay Village, where dining and shopping are also de rigueur, the bus tootles along for several minutes before the Cascade Brewery’s famous facade comes into view. Dating back to 1832, good beer is still made within this distinctive heritage building (taste the proof on a brewery tour, or perhaps Red Decker’s City Loop and Cascade Brewery combo ticket).
The next stop is close by and a historic site with a much less cheerful story — the Cascades Female Factory, where female convicts lived and worked in intentionally miserable conditions.
Back in the city centre, there’s yet more history to soak up at stops for the well regarded Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery and Maritime Museum of Tasmania. That’s followed by the Penitentiary Chapel — another of Hobart’s graceful early 19th century structures with a sad convict past.
On the final leg of the route we head north to the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens. Driving along the lengthy perimeter of lush greenery and accompanied by Red Decker’s commentary describing the beauty within, I regret not having enough time to hop off and explore these 14 hectares. For those with the luxury of more time, the 48-hour ticket would allow you to spread everything out nicely over two days.
As Graeme points the bus back toward the travel centre, I’m already planning my next visit.
Patricia travelled as a guest of Red Decker.
Additional images: Bigstock
Patricia Maunder has been a media professional for more than 20 years, and has worked in print, online and radio. Currently based in Melbourne, she considers the Canadian city of Montreal to be her ‘other’ hometown — having lived there from 2012 to 2016. Patricia has travelled in every continent except the one that’s beckoned since she was a child — Antarctica. A travel writer as well as an arts journalist, she enjoys culturally themed journeys and nature-based adventures.