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Tasmanian Capital Set in a Lake District Scene

Footloose in Hobart

April 06, 1986|BEVERLY BEYER and ED RABEY | Beyer and Rabey are Los Angeles travel writers.

Going first-class: Wrest Point Federal (410 Sandy Bay Road; $60-$84) is a high-rise hotel with Hobart's best view, most comfortable, every amenity including sauna and pool, a casino attached for those who care for a flutter. Several good restaurants and bars, our favorite being the Asian Room where the foo chow abalone, beggar's prawns and Sichuan pork spareribs add up to a difficult decision.

On your own: Take a drive through Battery Point with its old whaling cottages, charmingly restored restaurants and shops. If it's Saturday, don't miss the morning market, a melange of fresh fruits and vegetables, homemade crafts, garden and wildflowers, chutneys and cakes and a few itinerant musicians around to further liven things up, one a 10-year-old boy in his school uniform playing a not-so-lively "Waltzing Matilda" on his clarinet.

See those Tasmanian devils, gratefully caged, at Bonorong Park a few miles from town, also friendly kangaroos, wombats and emus. Another few miles and you're in Richmond, a restored convict station of the 1820s. It's a fascinating study in the macabre, an old sandstone gaol just dripping with history and tales of heartbreak. Richmond also has a lovely old bridge considered a national treasure, antique shops and a beauty that softens its early role in Tasmania's past.

For more information: Call the Australian Tourist Commission at (213) 380-6060, or write (3550 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles 90020) for a colorful brochure on Tasmania and Hobart, another called "Down Under Down Under" for southern Australia. Ask for the Tasmania Package.

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