Until recently I completely missed the boat on the Battery Point Sculpture Trail. If you had asked me what the giant ‘1833’ sculpture at the end of Salamanca Place was meant to represent, I probably would have told you it was a fancy street number for the Silo apartment building. I simply had no idea the trail even existed. Today however, I feel like an expert after spending the morning strolling, reading and documenting all nine stops of the Battery Point Sculpture Trail.
Despite my best photographic efforts, the trail developed by Futago with artists Judith Abell and Chris Viney, is much more impressive in person. The first thing I’d like to mention, particularly if you are as terrible with directions as I am, is that you are going to need a map! With its winding narrow streets, dead ends, and similar cottage buildings I would say Battery Point is one of Hobart’s most beautiful yet geographically confusing suburbs. There are directional signs along the trail but exact locations are easiest to pin point with the map provided on the Hobart City Council website.
The first stop on the trail is 1833, a large caged rock sculpture that is in fact unrelated to the Silos apartment building. It represents the work of chained convicts who chiselled away cliff faces to build Salamanca’s giant sandstone warehouses and the new wharf of 1833.
Stop two, sculpture 12.43, is just a hundred meters and a right turn along Castray Esplanade from 1833. Definitely one of the easiest to locate. The concrete and blue resin sculpture discusses tides, surveying and the importance of accuracy in measurement in Victorian times. The number derives from a small square socket 12.43 feet above sea level which was the base point for all levels surveyed in Tasmania.
By following the waterfront that flanks the CSIRO building you’ll find stop three. Sculpture 628, featuring detailed geographical images sandwiched between two large panels of glass, sits beside the time keeper’s box which marks the finish line of the 628 nautical mile Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.
Continuing along the waterfront walkway you’ll soon find stop 4 folded over a red retaining wall at a local fishing spot. The very difficult to photograph, 2 000 sculpture is perhaps the most subtle along the trail. It is a tribute to the thousands of Salamanca workers whose hard labour once ran the city. Upon close inspection you’ll find etchings of women who once worked in the jam factories.
After inspecting the map that you didn’t forget to bring and making your way up Clarke Avenue you will discover the only living sculpture of the trail, 1923. The 1923 Hedge not only reflects the extravagant hedges of Battery Point’s most affluent homes, but also marks where in 1923 a proposal for natural parkland was knocked down in favour of 26 lots of Hobart’s most expensive real estate.
The map will only get you so far on the hunt for sculpture 313. Once you’ve arrived at the identified location, where 313 new vessels were launched through the 1800s, take a stroll along the jetty and look out to sea. Floating on the river you’ll find a white fibreglass sculpture that the local seagulls seem to have become quite fond of relaxing on.
It was only as I was walking back towards Salamanca when I realised I had walked straight passed sculpture 1 250 on my way to the next sculpture on the trail. This was when I got too confident for the map of course. Perhaps the most impressive, and definitely the largest of the trail’s sculptures, 1 250 features a giant corroded steel plate with small rivets making up four digits. The plate, viewable from high above along Napoleon Street, lies in an excavated ditch, once the home of a winch capable of hauling 1 250 tonne vessels from the water.
The penultimate sculpture lies at the bottom of Napoleon Street Park overlooking Battery Point’s ship chandlers and the river Derwent. One of the more elusive sculptures along the trail, you could easily miss number 24, particularly during daylight hours. Although visible by day, 24 is a creature of the night featuring a solar illuminated red number 24 beneath a very thick, dark layer of resin that creates an eerie image similar to a sunken ship.
After trudging down the very steep final stages of Napoleon Street you will find yourself at Errol Flynn Reserve which today I discovered was the official name for what I’ve always known as ‘the Dog Beach’. Errol Flynn Reserve marks the end of the trail with the large white Hollywoodesque 1909 sculpture a tribute to our most famous expat born in the year 1909.
Depending on your pace and weakness for Battery Point, art, food and history, I would set aside an hour in the afternoon for a leisurely stroll along the Battery Point Sculpture Trail.
See photographs of all the sculptures in the Battery Point Sculpture Trail by clicking on the more images tab at the top of the article.
Article published: 28 July 2015