Hobart is located on the south east coast, where the Derwent River opens out into a wide, deep estuary before joining the Tasman Sea. The river flows from North-west to South East., and is hemmed by several significant mountains. The largest of these is Mt Wellington (1270 m) which rises sharply up from Sullivans Cove on the western shore, the center of modern-day Hobart. The top of Mt Wellington is rimmed by a distinctive cliffline of jagged dolorite columns known as the Organ Pipes.
These two major features, the river and the mountain, will serve as valuable tools for anyone navigatining in Hobart, as one of them will almost always be visible to the eye. Other imprtant reference points are Mt Direction, on the eastern shore of the river, roughly due north of Mt Wellington. It can be distinguished by its rounded double peaks. On the western shore downriver (South-east) of Mt Wellington is Mt Nelson, which forms a long, flat shoulder to Mt Wellington, and overlooks the suburbs of Taroona and Sandy Bay.
The Eastern shore of the Derwent lies in the rain shadow of Mt Wellington, and is generally flatter, drier and more sparsely populated. However, visitors will certainly pass through as they travel to and from Hobart airport, or if travelling to Bellerieve Ovel to watch a cricket or football match. The two shores are connected by a large arched bridge, the Tasman Bridge, which joins the suburb of Bellerieve to Hobart at Regatta Point, making a north-east/south west line towards Mt Wellington. On the western shore between the bridge and Mt Wellington is a small hill called the Domain (actually the Queens Domain), which has been left mainly free of development. The Domain is directly north-east of the city center.
With this restrictive geography, Hobart has developed as a very elongated city, streched some 20-25 km along either side of the river. The major roads on the western shore - Sandy Bay Rd, Elizbeth St, New Town Rd, Main Rd - form an almost unbroken line along which one can travel. Parallel to this is the Brooker Highway, which starts at the city center and follows the western shore all the way to Bridgewater, where it turns north to become the Midlands Highway. The other major route is Southern Outlet, that brings one to Hobart from the south, cutting between Mt Wellington and Mt Nelson. This line can then be followed across the Tasman Bridge out to the airport, from which it continues north-east to become the East Coast Highway.
With all these reference points, and it's reduced size, Hobart should be a very easy city to navigate for the visitor. However, the devil is always in the details, and Hobart streets can be confusing as they twist and climb across the foothills of the mountains. Also, being one of Australia's oldest cities, many Hobart streets are narrow and one-way. Nevertheless, with a street map and a little patience, Hobart can make for an easy and enjoyable walking tour.