• The Hope and Anchor opened in Hobart on July 25, 1908. (Supplied)Source: Supplied
Tasmania is in the midst of a tourism boom, thanks in part to Hobart's Museum of Old and New Art. Hospitality businesses are cashing in, including one of Australia's oldest pubs.
SBS Small Business Secrets
3 Sep 2017 - 5:35 PM  UPDATED 30 Jan 2018 - 10:06 AM

For more 200 years, the Hope and Anchor has stood in the center of Hobart.

Located near the city's famous Constitution Dock, the core clientele was once fisherman. Given the city's convict past there was a criminal element to their patronage too, with a run smuggling operation running in the cellars below.

"The water use to come closer up," says Tara Davis, one of the pubs current operators. "Straight from the ships they would just role the barrels into here."

These days, business is all above board. After a period of disuse, the property was purchased by Singaporean investors in 2013.

Tara Davis, Rob Wilson and a third partner took over day-to-day operations a year later, leasing the pub for $250,000 a year.

It’s been so successful, they've been able funnel the profits into additional businesses.

"A lot of people did say in the beginning you're crazy going down that end of town, it’s been boarded up for so long," Rob recalls. "But I always had a vibe about this place, you know. I use to walk past and think, why is it shut?"

The MONA Effect

Hobart, along with the rest of Tasmania, is in the midst of a tourism boom, with much of the credit attributed to the popular Museum of Old and New Art (MONA).

A record-busting 1.2 million people visited the state last year, while those who visited MONA spent nearly $800 million dollars in the state.

"Everyone I’ll speak to in the bar will say, oh I’m going to Mona," says Rob.

But the increase in visitors has posed challenges too, with a dearth of skilled hospitality workers containing the growth of many businesses.

"You'll get good [staff] but usually they're on your working visas and they’re the best, but there here for six month and then they have to go," Tara says

"We advertise jobs all the time," Rob adds "There's so much unemployment in Tasmania and I just don’t understand why we don't get approached by local people."

The state government says it’s aware of the issues.

"In Hobart in particular, there’s been an immense spike in demand, shortages in some areas like chefs," says Roger Jaensch, the Tasmanian Parliamentary Secretary for Small Business.  "In some ways it’s a better problem to have than a few years ago when things were just too quiet here."

Claim to Fame

After 32 years in the hospitality business, running the Hope and Anchor is a dream comes true for Rob. And the team is proud to say their pub it one of the oldest in the country.

 "We're the oldest most continuously licensed pub in Australia," Tara explains. "There are a couple older but they're no longer trading or lost their license in between - so this pub was closed for a period of about six and a half years, however we still held the license."

At 210 years old, it’s a license they're making the most of.

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