January 29, 2017

Hobart, Day 1

Posted by Lauren Lipuma

Lauren Lipuma is AGU’s public information specialist. She is attending the AGU Chapman Conference on submarine volcanism in Hobart, Tasmania. Read previous blog posts from this trip here.

By Lauren Lipuma

I really knew next to nothing about Tasmania before this trip was planned. I didn’t even know if it was officially part of Australia (it is). When I thought about Tasmania, this is what came to mind:

Kangaroo land: What I thought Tasmania was like before I came here.
Credit: Paul Asman and Jill Lenoble, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Basically unexplored wilderness with kangaroos hopping around everywhere.

But that is not the case. Tasmania actually has cities and suburbs and it looks pretty much like everywhere else. A good portion of the island is devoted to national parks, but other than that I can’t see how it’s any different than mainland Australia.

Hobart sits at the southern end of the island on the River Derwent, and it reminds me a lot of New England: boats in the harbor, seafood restaurants, and seagulls galore. There’s even an art museum!

Hobart’s harbor and marina.

The mountains surrounding the city.

Here are a few fun facts I’ve learned about Hobart since I arrived:

  • It was founded as a penal colony in 1803.
  • Its harbor is the second-deepest natural port in the world.
  • Being so far south, it’s the base for Australia’s Antarctic expeditions.

This time of year, it’s Tasmania’s summer, and the weather could not be better – 70 degrees, sunny, not a drop of humidity and a beautiful breeze off the river. Hobart is nestled between the river and surrounding mountains, so you can go pretty much anywhere around town and see blue water or green hills.

Sunrise over the harbor.

Yesterday (Saturday) was my first full day in Hobart, so I took some time to explore the harbor and downtown areas. Luckily for me, Saturdays in Hobart are home to the Salamanca Market – a long, winding open air market where you can buy everything from fresh oysters to alpaca fur to used books and antiques. I spent a few hours wandering through, eating food, eyeing the trinkets that would make good presents for friends back home and trying to take photos – but the place was almost too crowded for that.

Salamanca Market.

I found several food stalls that serve wallaby (basically tiny kangaroos), either in the form of tacos or burgers. I don’t know if Australians eat wallaby meat regularly or if it’s just a tourist craze, like eating alligator in New Orleans, but I’m hoping to find out. Not ready to try it yet though. Maybe next week.

I also wandered around the harbor to the Hobart Function and Conference Center, where the meeting will be taking place. I can’t think of a better setting for a conference center than this.

The Hobart Function and Conference Center.

Tonight is the ice breaker and tomorrow the meeting officially starts. Just me and a hundred volcanologists – what could go wrong?

—Lauren Lipuma is AGU’s public information specialist. She is attending the AGU Chapman Conference on submarine volcanism in Hobart, Tasmania.