Hobart is Australia's gateway to Antarctica just as Christchurch is New Zealand's. There are many low-latitude sites here and most are marvelously laid out in a little brochure issued in 1995 by the Office of Antarctic Affairs of the Department of Tourism, Sport and Recreation entitled Polar Pathways; A Guide to Hobart's Antarctic and Southern Ocean Sites. To my knowledge this professionally produced and handsome guide is unique. Congratulations to Hobart for this effort in publicizing its Antarctic heritage. Twenty sites are noted in the brochure. I'll only touch on a few in this episode and leave the rest for the future.
The first is the General Post Office (232) on the corner of Macquarie and Elizabeth Streets. It was from here on the 8th of March, 1912, that Amundsen sent a telegram to inform the world that he had reached the South Pole. [The actual date may have been a day earlier: In The South Pole Amundsen recounts anchoring "in the splendid harbour" of Hobart on March 7th. According to Antarctica, Great Stories from the Frozen Continent (Reader's Digest, c1985) "On 7 March 1912, Amundsen finally cabled his brother Leon with the news..." Amundsen goes on to say that the Fram remained at Hobart for 13 days, weighing anchor on March 20th. As an aside, Amundsen makes an interesting observation: "While we lay in Hobart, Dr. Mawson's ship, the Aurora, came in. I went on board her one day, and have thus been on board the vessels of all the present Antarctic expeditions. On the Terra Nova, the British, on February 4, 1911, in the Bay of Whales; on the Deutschland, the German, in September and October, 1911, in Buenos Aires; on the Kainan Maru, the Japanese, on January 17, 1912, in the Bay of Whales; and finally on the Aurora in Hobart. Not forgetting the Fram, which, of course, I think best of all."
Not far from the GPO, at 34 Murray Street, is what back in those days was Hadley's Orient Hotel (233), now the Country Comfort Hotel (for my money the original name seems more alluring). Here Amundsen stayed in Rooms 201 and 202 after returning from the Antarctic. Now called the Amundsen Suite, his photograph hangs above the bed in which he slept.
Between these two sites, at 111 Macquarie Street, is the Reserve Bank (245), where there's a bronze lifesize sculpture featuring penguins, seals and skuas, the 1984 work of Tasmanian artist Stephen Walker.
These three just begin to scratch the surface of Low-Latitude sites in Hobart.