More Tales from Tasmania
Salamanca Place – this row of old colonial warehouses are the remnant of Hobart’s whaling history and were built in the 1830’s. The area was originally called the Cottage Green, but after the Duke of Wellington defeated 40,000 French men in forty minutes at the Battle of Salamanca in 1812 it was renamed in a fit of patriotic pride. Wellington was very popular in Hobart, he also gave his name to the mountain.
As usual with anything historic or cultural in Australia the area fell into disuse and ruin and things stayed that way until the 1970’s when the penny dropped and someone realized that if the place was regenerated it might bring in some money. By the 1990’s the old quarry site behind the warehouse was also developed into a sheltered public square with shops and cafe and now the whole area is really the cultural and social area for tourists and locals alike.
In 1972 the town council thought that a Saturday market in Salamanca place would be just great. So the first market opened with just 12 stalls. Today there are some 300 stalls and it is reckoned that the market attracts 25,000-40,000 visitors every Saturday. The first stalls were granted on a temporary first come first served basis but now the permanent stallholders can pay up to $100,000 AUD for their occupancy rights.
The stalls now sell hippyware, tourist tack, fruit and veg, craft ware, art, secondhand clothes and all manner of other stuff most of which is exorbitantly priced, but with leases going for so much they’ve got to make a living somehow. To add to all this there is whole host of enthusiastic and energetic buskers who make up for a lack of talent with volume of sound. If all this sounds as if I’m down on the place, I’m actually not because what all this means is that the market is a Mecca for people watchers. Never mind the weather, its on every Saturday. As the saying goes “Be there or be square.”.