The Queens Domain
The Governor of 1860 commissioned that this prime parcel of land would belong to the people, and since then “the people” have been blessed with the addition of many sporting and recreational facilities. Well, for all of you “people”, why don’t I share with you some of the attractions that you too can enjoy…
Queens Domain Tennis Centre
Tasmania’s premier tennis facility is both a club for 800 or so members, as well as home to Tennis Tasmania and the Hobart International. A tennis tournament for female tour professionals, the Moorilla Hobart International is part of the Australian Open series leading to the Grand Slam event held in Melbourne in January.
The government has invested heavily in recent times in the development of new spectator amenities including stands and corporate seating. Centre court provides a view over the nearby river, and the intimate nature of the event affords the public a close-up experience with celebrity players that is just not possible at Melbourne Park.
During the rest of the year, club members and visitors have access to Plexicusion, artificial clay and synthetic grass courts, with or without the assistance of the coaching staff. The clubhouse bar also boasts a generous view of the river, while downstairs there is a pro shop to purchase tennis-related equipment. All this within 5 minutes of Hobart’s CBD.
STRINGLAB – Domain Tennis Club
Tennis Equipment & Racquet Stringing
2 Davies Ave, Glebe
Call 6234 8627
Check out the Stringlab website
Regardless of the weather, swimming is popular at this heated indoor pool. The usual additions such as a creche, cafe and gym are all available to customers. The council-operated centre also offers additional programs, including aquatic education and swimming lessons, water polo, health and fitness sessions and holiday fun sessions.
For the kids, the shallow pool offers hours of entertainment with a water slide and fountains, and all sections are supervised by duty life-guards. With a selection of water-based activities (the facility incorporates a diving pool, lap swimming and water aerobics), there seems to be something to suit everyone.
The official website claims the Botanical Gardens are magnificent in every season, and I would definitely agree. With such a variety of things to do, it’s one of the attractions of Hobart that you can visit lots of times yet still be enthusiastic about returning to.
Obviously for the gardening enthusiast, the historic plant collections and significant trees (apparently dating from the nineteenth century) will hold enormous appeal. And the Society now offers an adult education program, in the form of the Gardens Master Classes, to enhance the horticultural experience.
If you are just looking for a nice place to eat lunch, the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens restaurant has a lovely deck overlooking the lawns and the river. Unfortunately, I can’t personally vouch for the food at the time of writing, but the menu promises… “top quality fresh Tasmanian produce prepared simply but beautifully, accompanied by local wine at very reasonable prices”. Sounds good to me!
Tasmanian Cricket Association Ground
Hobart is fortunate to have two first class cricket grounds. Bellerive Oval on the Eastern Shore is the home of the state team, the Tasmanian Tigers, and the host of any international matches played here. But the old TCA ground is closest to the city, surrounded by eucalypt bushland and boasts a white picket fence straight out of an English countryside postcard!
Due to an elevated location, not only does the ground have fantastic views of the river, Hobart city and Mount Wellington; it has been known to provide bowlers with a little assistance from a timely sea breeze.
Used primarily in the summer for local grade competition, spectators can watch on from the HC Smith Stand, which was built in 1880. Untouched since its extension in 1908, the building is now heritage listed. As with many things in Hobart, a little history thrown in, free of charge!
Cenotaph and Regatta Grounds
Many towns and cities in Australia have memorial features to commemorate the wartime effort and loss of its servicemen and women: the Tasmanian version is located within the Queens Domain precinct. The Cenotaph (or Hobart War Memorial) is the Tasmanian military monument and the destination of Anzac Day service marches to the Regatta Grounds.
Constructed in 1925, the obelisk stretches over 23 metres high and is made from granite, standing on a stepped base made from bluestone. Just below the cap (which is shaped like a pyramid), a red cross on each side is illuminated in remembrance of the fallen. A solemn occasion in April, but not so at the Regatta Grounds in February each year, when the Royal Hobart Regatta is held.
A long-running tradition was started by the Governor, Sir John Franklin in 1838, when a public holiday was declared and the Derwent River was devoted to sailing and navy pursuits for a three day carnival. Still continuing today, the holiday promoting friendly competition and offering free entertainment, has the distinction of being one of the oldest continuing public holidays in Australia. Gotta love that!
So with all these great things the Tasmanian Governor has been responsible for, surely he must have been rewarded in some manner by the Tasmanian people? Yes he has! If you consider the location of Government House – on Lower Domain Road, overlooking the magnificent river vista and the botanical gardens – you would reckon he would be pretty happy with his residence.
The palatial, vice-regal home is described as “early Victorian” and “neo-Gothic style”; for the non-architecturally inclined (yes, that would be me!), it’s a damned fine mansion. The grand rooms and corridors are filled with English antique furniture, while the outside has some very impressive stonework and sculptures.
Tasmania’s current Governor (His Excellency, the Honourable Peter Underwood) together with his wife Frances, host receptions, dinners and other public events at their residence. So if you’re one of the lucky ones, you might get an official peek inside. If not, you can troop through for a look-see on the annual open day with the rest of us.
If you can’t wait until then, there are some fabulous photos of Government House at the official website.
Queens Domain: Soldiers Walk
As usual, there are too many attractions to list in this single article. But here’s some other facts that you may find interesting…
- Former home of the Hobart Zoo (or Beaumaris Zoo), where the last Tasmanian Tiger died in captivity on 7 September 1936.
- The Domain Athletic Centre has an Olympic standard 400 metre oval track with 10 lanes, and a straight section for 100 metre sprints or hurdles. You might expect to find lanes for long jump, high jump and pole vault and areas to throw a discus, hammer or javelin (which you will find). But what you may not expect, but will also find… a steeplechase lane with waterpit – cool.
- The Soldiers Walk – a memorial avenue of trees – has a supporters group with a dedicated website (Soldiers Walk, Queens Domain) which has lots of information regarding the history of the avenue, maps of the area and images – definitely worth a look.
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