— words by Winsor Dobbin

Hobart has colourful history dating back to 1803 and is a long-time magnet for visitors who enjoy its busy waterfront, historic stone buildings and rich colonial and convict heritage.

The city has undergone a remarkable transformation from sleepy to energised over the past five years, emerging as a delightful destination with a busy year-round cultural scene, myriad restaurant and bar options, gourmet delis and a range of festivals, many of which are held during the previously somnolent winter season. From dowager to hipster in no time at all.

Hobart's renaissance as a tourist destination has resulted in a small, easy-to-traverse, city noteworthy for its whisky, wine and cider bars; hip restaurants with focus on the superb cool-climate wines and local Tasmanian produce, and the arrival of new hotels (with a number more in the planning stage).

The major reason for the uplift in Hobart's heartbeat was the arrival in early 2011 of MONA, the spectacular and divisive privately-owned Museum of Old and New Art in the city's northern suburbs. The creation of eccentric gambling multi-millionaire David Walsh, the sprawling MONA campus at Berriedale is the venue for festivals in both summer and winter (MONA FOMA and Dark MOFO) as well as hosting regular music concerts and markets.

Downtown Hobart, once a quaint relic, is now a great walking city with attractions ranging from the re-born Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) and dozens of hip cafes, bars and eateries overlooking the working waterfront and its many fishing vessels. The cruise ship wharf, now visited by as many as 30 ships each season.