Moonah is located about 5 km north of the Hobart CBD along the Brooker Highway. The suburb lies to the north of New Town and to the south of Derwent Park. Architecture lovers will appreciate the mix of buildings from different eras and of different architectural styles, from Colonial to Art Deco, that are still beautifully preserved in Moonah.
The Muwinina people originally lived in the area that became Moonah, which means ‘gumtrees’. After the founding of Hobart Town, free settlers moved into the area along the New Town Rivulet. They removed the native cherries and currants that grew here and replaced them with extensive orchards of apples, pears, peaches, apricots and plums.
One of the pioneers of Tasmania’s fruit industry was Dr Harry Benjafield. He settled in Hobart in 1873 and owned Derwent Park for a while. He grew apples and pears at Moonah and is credited with the propagation of the Tasma apple, now better known as the Democrat apple. Dr Benjafield sold fresh fruit and vegetables to Hobart’s residents, built cool rooms for keeping fruit fresh and exported Tasmanian produce to Britain.
The arrival of industry in Hobart brought with it migrants looking for factory work. They came from different parts of the world and many settled in Moonah, which offered a convenient location and cheap housing. The 1970s saw an influx of Hmong people who fled war-torn South East Asia and made Moonah their home. The orchards of the past made way for a new kind of agriculture, with many Hmong families starting large vegetable gardens. More recently, migrants from Burma, Bhutan, Nepal and Afghanistan have added some more ethnic flavour to the suburb.
With residents from so many cultural backgrounds, it is only natural that Moonah offers a variety of cuisines. This is celebrated with gusto around March every year with the Moonah Taste of the World Festival held in Benjafield Park.
The main attraction in Moonah, however, and the real draw for foodies, is Tasmania’s largest undercover farmer’s market, known as Island Markets. The fresh-produce market is open from 9 to 5 from Thursdays to Sundays. From 10 to 3 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, the market also features arts and crafts, plants, jewellery, gifts and specialist Asian groceries. On market days you can shop ’til you drop but you can also succumb to gluttony at the many pop-up eateries that celebrate the diversity of Moonah.