Rain is what makes Tasmania so beautiful, but if you’re caught out in bad weather, don’t despair, there are galleries, historic sites and culinary ventures to keep the whole family dry and amused. Here are the best things to do in Hobart when it's raining.
Where do you seek refuge when it’s raining buckets? How about a subterranean museum and art gallery with enough eye-popping exhibits to see you comfortably ride out a lengthy one-in-100-year storm? The Museum of Old and New Art is Australia’s largest private museum and houses one of the world’s most confronting and controversial art collections, entombed within an underground gallery on an escarpment overlooking the Derwent River, just north of Hobart. There’s a chocolate sculpture of the remains of a Chechen suicide bomber, and a giant machine that mimics the human digestive tract (grab a map to avoid exhibits inappropriate for children). Afterwards you can debrief with a glass of wine and a meal at the onsite restaurant and winery or enjoy a beer and tour of the micro brewery.
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery
For a more conventional museum experience that’s guaranteed to be more palatable for the kids, head to the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery on Hobart’s historic waterfront. Fresh from a $30 million redevelopment, Australia’s second-oldest museum takes visitors on a journey from ancient times to the modern day, taking in colonial art, contemporary culture, politics and social change. See artefacts that have been hidden from the public eye for more than 150 years, come face to face with an extinct Tasmanian Tiger and be transported to the frozen continent of Antarctica.
Foul weather is enough to make some hit the bottle, but at Cascade Brewery you can enjoy a more refined beer-drinking experience, with a history lesson to boot. Australia’s oldest brewery, Cascade occupies an imposing building on the banks of the Hobart Rivulet overlooking 1.2 hectares of heritage gardens. Discover the history of the company (established in 1824), hear the beer makers’ tales, and learn about the brewing process as you climb a labyrinth of stairs. Afterwards enjoy the fruits of the brewers’ labours with tastings fresh from the keg, and enjoy a meal in the cafe overlooking the gardens.
Cadbury Chocolate Factory
Nothing provides comfort on a gloomy day quite like chocolate, and at the Cadbury Chocolate Factory in nearby Claremont there’s lots to go around. Follow your nose 14 kilometres north of Hobart’s CBD and learn about the chocolate making process at the Tasmanian home of one of the world’s best-known confectionery brands. Taste test raw ingredients, watch an audio-visual presentation, enjoy free samples, and pick up some take-home treats at the retail shop. The factory may not look like much from the outside, but inside those walls is pure chocolatey-goodness!
Penitentiary Chapel Historic Site
See where wayward convicts met a grisly end at the haunting Penitentiary Chapel Historic Site. The 1830s chapel housed 36 solitary confinement cells beneath the floor, and served as the Hobart Town Gaol for more than a century. Wander through the tunnels, two Supreme Court rooms and cells where 50,000 convicts passed through, and see the execution yard and gallows. For a spine-tingling experience join a night ghost tour and explore the grounds by lamplight, hearing tales of paranormal activities, murder trials and chilling executions.