Salamanca Place is a historic docks area of Hobart lined with a long row of simple Georgian sandstone warehouses built in the 1830s. These mellow north-facing buildings once stored grain, wool, whale oil, apples and imported goods from around the world. These wharf buildings and storehouses have been converted into a collection of restaurants, cafes, art galleries and speciality shops while retaining its historical buildings.
Salamanca Markets: every Saturday, Salamanca Place takes on a totally different look and carnival atmosphere when it hosts the famous Salamanca Markets. Over 300 stallholders congregate to sell produce and crafts from all over Tasmania as buskers, artists and performers keep the crowd entertained. Here you can purchase a hand made piece of Tasmanian craftwork or something special for the dining table, like a jar of home-made pickles or a bottle of Tasmanian Cassis, a delightful blood-red, sweet, blackcurrant flavoured liqueur blackberry wine. Open every Saturday. More >>
About Salamanca Place: Salamanca Place began to take shape in the late 1820s. The number of ships carrying whale products, import and export goods, immigrants and convicts in and out of port soon proved too much for the Old Wharf at the foot of Hunter Street. The southern end of Sullivans Cove possessed deeper anchorage and better shelter, and in 1830 the Government agreed to build New Wharf where Salamanca Place now exists. New Wharf soon became one of the great whaling ports of the world and as Tasmania’s export trades increased, the need for dockside warehouses quickly grew.
Hundreds of convicts that were housed in hulks moored at New Wharf were used to quarry out the cliffs behind Salamanca Place. Convicts were used to cut the stone and build the row of sandstone warehouses that lined New Wharf and now form Salamanca Place.
When whalers began tying up at what then was known as New Wharf, which had been created to Typical of the merchants who helped create Salamanca's classic Georgian streetscape, Askin Morrison was a merchant who arrived in Tasmania in 1829. In the early 1830s he imported a cargo of tea from China that reputedly made him a profit of 10,000 pounds. It is thought that he used this money in 1834 to purchase a parcel of land fronting New Wharf. Morrison immediately built a warehouse on the property (now 65 Salamanca Place), which became the base for his import and export business and where he stored whale oil and products.
Adjacent to Morrison’s first warehouse, Richard Willis, a merchant arriving from London in 1834, built himself a warehouse for goods storage, with a covered archway leading to stables in a courtyard at the rear (65b Salamanca Place). Willis imported pianos, wines and silverware until his business collapsed in the 1840s depression. When he lost his building to a creditor, Morrison was quick to purchase it at a bargain price.
Captain William Young purchased the vacant block next door and built another warehouse in the same style as Morrison’s. Young was a whaler and timber merchant who also owned 600 acres of forested land on Bruny Island. In 1853 he sold his warehouse to Morrison.
The brothers, Hugh and John Addison originally built the two four-storey warehouses (77-79 Salamanca Place) in 1843 on land also purchased from Captain James Kelly. John Addison, an architect, designed the buildings to flank the pre-existing Kelly’s Lane.
Throughout the nineteenth century, the whalers had so dramatically diminished the whale populations in the waters surrounding Tasmania that some species were on the brink of extinction. By the late 1800s Hobart’s whaling days were over; and, like the warehouses in Hunter Street (where Old Wharf had been), the row of warehouses that lined New Wharf were given new life as fruit processing and jam producing factories.
Tasmania’s climate was well suited to growing stone fruits and the export market for jam and processed fruit expanded rapidly in the 1890s. During the next 50 years, many Salamanca Place buildings were expanded into each other to accommodate hundreds of workers producing millions of tonnes of jam and tinned fruit for export all over the world.
View Larger Map
Jam and tinned fruit sales slowed through the 1960s, and many of the warehouses fell into a state of decline, with various buildings and floors rented out and others remaining unoccupied for years. The boom years that gave Tasmania its identity as “The Apple Isle” lasted until Britain finally entered the European Common Market in 1971 and Tasmania’s main fruit export market collapsed as a result.
In 1972, Australian corporate giant, John Elliott, purchased Henry Jones IXL, Peacock’s parent company. By 1974 the Peacock Factory on Salamanca Place had been closed down and was on the market. Within a few months, a group of visionary locals including Claudio Alcorso (one of Tasmania’s great arts advocates) saw in the buildings the potential to establish a vibrant community and arts centre in Hobart’s working port area. They formed the Community and Art Centre Foundation, established objectives for the potential Centre and pressured the State Government to purchase the old Peacock Factory. The Salamanca Arts Centre came into being in 1976 when the State Government, led by Premier Bill Neilsen, purchased the seven historic sandstone warehouses in Hobart’s Salamanca Place (along with a cottage in Kelly Street) for the people of Tasmania.
The Government leased the buildings to the Foundation for 99 years at a peppercorn rent. In exchange, the Foundation was responsible for repairing and maintaining the dilapidated buildings and managing a range of diverse arts programs and events, funded through space and venue hire to artists, arts organisations and commercial tenants. Teams of committed and tireless volunteers moved in to clean out nearly 200 years of industrial dust and grime and bring the buildings back to life.
The rows of Georgian era sandstone warehouses that services the clippers were converted into a plaza of restaurants and shop, with pubs, artists, galleries, craft shops and nightlife adding to the relaxed atmosphere of the place after sundown. Every Saturday, Salamanca Place takes on a totally different look and carnival atmosphere when it hosts the famous Salamanca Markets. Over 300 stallholders congregate to sell produce and crafts from all over Tasmania as buskers, artists and performers keep the crowd entertained. At the northern end of Salamanca Place is St. David's Park, a popular lunchtime relaxation spot for the city's workers. Parliament House adjacent to Salamanca Place.
The name Salamanca Place recalls a town in Spain which the Allied army led by the Duke of Wellington took on 17th June 1812 during the Peninsula War (1808-14). Nearby Castray Esplanade recalls Luke Richard Castray, Tasmanian Commissioner General who conceived and designed that road to link Hobart's wharves and Battery Point.
How to get there: from city centre, walk south down any cross street to Franklin Wharf, then head right towards Castray Esplanade.