Panorama of Hobart

Panorama of Hobart (detail), c. 1825
Augustus Earle
Watercolour and pencil
Presented by Sir William Dixson, 1951
ZDG D14, f.1-6

Caption: This panorama was the basis for a painting by Robert Burford which was exhibited in London in 1831. Darwin paid six pence to view it just prior to sailing on Beagle. Earle had been artist on Beagle but left in August 1832. He had previously been in Australia.

HOBART, 5–17 FEBRUARY 1836

You would be astonished to know what pleasant society there is here, I dined yesterday at the Attorneys General [Alfred Stephen] ... he got up an excellent concert of first rate Italian Music
Charles Darwin to his sister, Catherine, 14 February 1836

Late in the evening of 5 February, Beagle arrived in Hobart. For Darwin the absence of Sydney’s vulgarity, nouveaux riches and former convicts ‘revelling in Wealth’ was an advantage. The climate was softer and it reminded Darwin of home.

He went riding with the Surveyor-General, George Frankland, and dined with him on his twenty-seventh birthday, 12 February.

He took long walks and made extensive geological observations. He crossed the Derwent in a steamboat several times, and took a coach as far as New Norfolk. He added to his natural history collections and, unaware that it was venomous, had a potentially lethal encounter with a snake. As an inveterate beetle collector he had a field day, marvelling at how quickly the Tasmanian dung beetles had adapted to the dung of imported animals.

He climbed Mount Wellington with his servant and assistant, Syms Covington, which took five and a half hours:

 ... tree-ferns flourished in an extraordinary manner ... the foliage of these trees, forming so many most elegant parasols created a shade approaching to darkness.