The Salamanca Wharf Hotel is anchored on Castray Esplanade, sited between two historic Georgian sandstone warehouses.
As an extension of Hobart’s renowned Salamanca Place, Castray Esplanade is enviably located in Tasmania’s single most visited tourism precinct and Hobart’s premier hospitality, entertainment and cultural hub.
Castray Esplanade and Salamanca Place is a historic docks area lined with a long row of Georgian sandstone warehouses built in the 1830s. These handsome north-facing buildings once stored grain, wool, whale oil, apples and imported goods from around the world. The precinct began to take shape in the late 1820s after the number of ships carrying whale products, goods, immigrants and convicts proved too much for the Old Wharf at Hunter Street on the northern side of Sullivans Cove.
The southern end of the cove possessed deeper anchorage and better shelter, and in 1830 the Government agreed to build New Wharf where Castray Esplanade and Salamanca Place now exist. New Wharf soon became one of the world’s great whaling ports and as Tasmania’s export trades increased, the need for dockside warehouses quickly grew.
In 1833, John Lee Archer, one of Australia's most renown early colonial architects, was commissioned to design new buildings to house the Ordnance stores on Castray Esplanade. The sandstone Ordnance stores would house all government supplies, both military and convict.
Hundreds of convicts (housed in hulks moored at New Wharf) quarried the cliffs behind Salamanca, cut the stone and built the Ordnance stores on Castray Esplanade and the row of sandstone warehouses that face Salamanca Place.
Perched on the small hill behind The Salamanca Wharf Hotel sits the original Signal Station and Mulgrave Battery, which was built in 1818 during panic about a rumoured Russian invasion. They are now part of the picturesque Princes Park, overlooked by The Salamanca Wharf Hotel. Nearby, the octagonal Tide House, next to the original Ordnance Stores, is the point from which all distances are measured in Tasmania.
By the late 1800s Hobart’s whaling days were over and the New Wharf warehouses were given new life as fruit processing and jam producing factories. Tasmania’s climate was well suited to growing stone fruits and the export market for jam and processed fruit expanded rapidly in the 1890s. During the next 50 years, many Salamanca Place buildings were expanded into each other to accommodate hundreds of workers producing millions of tonnes of jam and tinned fruit for export all over the world. Jam and tinned fruit sales slowed through the 1960s, and many of the warehouses fell into a state of decline, with various buildings and floors rented out and others remaining unoccupied for years. The Ordnance stores on Castray Esplanade remained in government hands and continued to house military supplies, until it was transferred to the Postmaster General's department in the 1950's.
Today, these wharf buildings and storehouses have been converted into a collection of restaurants, cafes, art galleries and studios, specialty shops and residences. The Salamanca Wharf Hotel has been creatively designed to sympathetically coexist as a new structure built on a vacant parcel of land between two of Castray Esplanade’s oldest and most important buildings. Reflecting the evolution of the precinct, opposite the hotel, the recently renovated Princes Wharf 1 facility is home to Tasmania’s largest annual event, the acclaimed week-long Taste Festival which attracts in excess of 250,000 patrons. Adjacent to this site, the $45 million Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) is under construction and by 2013 it will house more than 300 staff and students as an extension of the CSIRO Marine Research Laboratories situated at the Battery Point end of IMAS. And every Saturday, Salamanca Place takes on a carnival atmosphere when it hosts the famous Salamanca Markets. Over 300 stallholders congregate to sell produce and crafts from all over Tasmania as buskers, artists and performers keep the crowd entertained.