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Published December 31st 2014
A great market or just another tourist destination?
Hobart is famous for being the hometown of Princess Mary and the Salamanca market, so what better place to start when visiting Tasmania than to take a look at the market that Princes Mary visited when last in her home town.
Being my first time in Hobart I couldn't resist the temptation of visiting the Salamanca market after seeing it several times on the television, in print and all through many tourism brochures. The setting is picture perfect with all of the historic buildings lining the way for the market stalls on a paved lane with trees that shade the edges.
With the market on every Saturday between 8:30am- 3pm it gives everyone an opportunity to pencil it in to their itinerary so long as you are in Hobart on a Saturday.
Arriving at the market around 9am we were glad we were on foot as parking seemed to be near impossible. If you were lucky enough to snare a coveted parking spot nearby then they are metered and have a maximum of 2 hours, which may not be enough time to enjoy the market fully.
Inside the market crowds were much bigger than I anticipated, I had images of a relaxed seaside market shadowed by historic buildings with a stunning mountain backdrop. I did see glimpses of all of these magnificent things but it was overshadowed by the sheer number of people. I guess when there is a huge cruise ship moored nearby then you can expect a good turn out.
To be totally honest we gave up on the market about half way through and just needed some breathing space, we headed up to Princes Park which is only a short stroll away and had a snack and let the kids burn off some energy on the playground before returning about 2pm. It turned out to be a great decision. The crowds were gone, we could see all the offerings of the 300 stalls along with listening to the funky music performed by buskers along with enjoying the atmosphere I had imagined it to be.
The stalls were a mixture of handmade items, hot food, fruit, veggies and flowers along with some more commercial stores, which I'm not that fond of. There were many stalls selling similar touristy items such as calendars, pens diaries, chopping boards, cheese knives and so on at premium prices. Though among the stalls were some original standouts in the arts and crafts along with locally produced food and wine.
I came out with a few second hand books, a Tasmanian oak decorative tree and the most amazing Jaffa fudge but had the budget allowed I could have bought a few more things. Prices are aimed at tourists so don't expect any bargains.
Overall I think Salamanca market is aimed at the tourist dollar but you can find a few original gems. The atmosphere when the crowds dwindle is excellent and the ladies at the tourist information stand at the market gave us some great suggestions as to where to buy Tasmania's best scallop pies. Expect the market to be busy and overwhelming and with luck it will be the opposite.