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The Ashes in Tasmania

The Ashes are finally coming to Tasmania. Hobart has landed the fifth and final Test of the 2021–22 Ashes series – a day/night match at Blundstone Arena on 14–18 January 2022. And it’s going to be big.

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Pitch-perfect Hobart finally gets a game

It’s taken 140 years, but the Ashes are finally coming to Tasmania. The pinnacle of international Test cricket, the Ashes have been contested between England (the old guard and inventors of cricket) and Australia (the colonial upstarts) every few years since 1882. And now, Hobart has landed the fifth and final Test of the 2021–22 Ashes series – a day/night match at Blundstone Arena on 14–18 January 2022. And it’s going to be big.

2022: Hobart’s big year of cricket

Wait … Hobart? The Ashes are traditionally played in Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth, right? Correct. Perth was scheduled to host the fifth Test, but COVID-19 quarantine protocols between Cricket Australia and the Western Australian government couldn’t be finalised. With Perth out of the conversation, Hobart beat Melbourne, Canberra, Adelaide and Sydney for the hosting rights (Howzat, Warnie?!).

‘This will be the largest sporting event that Tasmania has ever hosted. An Ashes Test is the Holy Grail of cricket.’ – Peter Gutwein, Premier of Tasmania

The fifth Test will kick off a massive year of cricket on the island. Australia is hosting the international ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in October/November 2022, with Blundstone Arena scheduled for eight matches. The Ashes are just the beginning…

Hobart waterfront at sunset

Hobart waterfront at sunset / Tourism Tasmania & Luke Tscharke

Cricket and Tasmania: We go way back

Sure, Tasmania has never hosted the Ashes before – but the story of cricket here is long and typically quirky.

In 1851, Tasmania won the first-ever first-class cricket match played in Australia, trumping Victoria by three wickets at the Launceston Racecourse. Then, in 1894, Australia’s first organised women's cricket match happened on Bruny Island, a lofted cover drive south of Hobart. The team from Oyster Cove sailed across to play North Bruny: the ‘mainlanders’ won by 36 runs.

Tasmanian cricket was up and running. But it wasn’t until 1977 that the Tasmanian Tigers were finally granted entry to Australia’s domestic Sheffield Shield competition – 126 long years spent hanging around the locker rooms, begging for a game. And even then, until 1982 Tasmania was only allowed to play each of the mainland teams once per season, while everybody else played twice!

We’ve always been the underdog … But despite an ordinary winning record (a tick under 25%) and finishing last an impressive 14 times, the Tigers have held the shiny Sheffield Shield aloft three times – in 2006–07, 2010–11 and 2012–13 – and been runner-up five times. What can we say? The new century agrees with us.

On the international circuit, the first of 13 Test matches played in Tasmania happened at Bellerive Oval in December 1989. In that first Test, Australia rolled Sri Lanka by 173 runs, with Dean Jones, Mark Taylor and Steve Waugh all cracking centuries in Australia’s second dig.

Curiously, of the 18 Tasmanian men who’ve played for Australia at Test level, three have been wicketkeepers: Roger Woolley, Matthew Wade and Tim Paine. The legendary David Boon (‘Boonie’ to his mates … well to everyone, really) also donned the gloves for Australia once or twice when Ian Healy was crook. Which is more than we can say for Kenny Burn, who, once he’d been selected as Australia’s wicketkeeper in 1890 and was on the boat to England, fessed-up that he’d never actually kept wicket before. Nice one, Kenny.

Aerial view of Bellerive Oval

Aerial view of Blundstone Arena / Events Tasmania & Alastair Bett

Blundstone Arena – where’s that?

Sydney has Balmain, Melbourne has Williamstown, Perth has Fremantle … and Hobart has Bellerive. On the traditional lands of the Mumirimina people, Bellerive is an historic harbourside hub that’s now home to Blundstone Arena. Tasmania’s cricketing HQ used to be the TCA Ground on the Queen’s Domain, the big grassy hill just behind the city. But playing the long game, Cricket Tasmania upped stumps and crossed the river to the roomier Bellerive Oval in 1987. Not as much happens up at the TCA these days … other than, say, 15,000 fans at the occasional AC/DC concert. But it’s still interesting to check out if you’re into cricket history (and who isn’t?).

It’s a pretty place, Bellerive, with a precious cache of historic buildings, a sheltered marina, and Blundstone Arena fronting onto Bellerive Beach. The ground (capacity 20,000) now hosts domestic and international cricket, plus a few AFL Australian Rules football matches every winter.

What’s a Blundstone? Blundstone Boots – just ‘Blunnies’ to the locals – are a much-loved Tasmanian product, perfectly evolved to handle the island’s rugged landscapes and corporate carpets. Get some on your feet.

Blundstone boots on rocks

Blundstone Boots / Adam Gibson

Got a ticket? Here’s a survival guide

Getting there

  • The free ferry from the Hobart waterfront to Bellerive is a great way to go. Extra services will be running during the big match: coffee, sparkling wine, mountain views … what’s not to like? There were quite a few of these ferries chugging around the River Derwent when the Tasman Bridge collapsed in 1975 (but you don’t need to worry about that now).
  • Parking is tight around the ground. Do the neighbours a favour and park at Kangaroo Bay or Rosny instead, then walk around the Bellerive foreshore to the ground (you’ll be sitting on your bum all day anyway). Along the way are river views, big-money waterfront houses and the intriguing Kangaroo Bluff Historic Site, built in 1884 to protect Hobart from wandering Russian warships.
  • Don’t want to drive? Buses 605, 613, 615, 620 and 625 run to Bellerive from the city regularly, with extra match-day services: watch this space for the latest.

At the ground

  • Slip, slop, slap: the southern sun kicks like a mule (it’s the clean air, FYI).
  • Sea breeze kicking-in and messing up your hair? Sure – this is Hobart. Think of it as a bit of extra assistance for the fast bowlers, steaming in from the River End.
  • Thirsty? If ever there was a prime opportunity to drink some cold Tasmanian beer, this is it. There’s a patch of grass on the Hill with your name on it. Just behave yourself.
  • Hungry? Bite into a National Pie, a Tasmanian classic, invented by young apprentice butcher Alfred Gough in 1942. Alf sold his beefy pies through a hole in the wall to patrons at the National Theatre next door to his butcher’s shop. The theatre is long gone, but the name stuck.
  • This is a day/night Test, but don’t expect balmy summer scenes after the sun sets below the mountain. Bring layers. Maybe even a beanie.
  • Get ready for some lively back-and-forth with England’s Barmy Army. Anyone know any good songs?

Around the ground

  • Blundstone Arena is also home to the Tasmanian Cricket Museum & Library – everything you ever wanted to know about Ricky Ponting (and more).
  • If you’ve got the kids in tow, bring your bathers and swim at Bellerive Beach, or let them blow off some steam at the amazing playground between the sand and the stadium.
  • Not far from Blundstone Arena, Bellerive’s Tasmanian Produce Market is happening from 9am on Saturday 15 January. Fruit, veg, bread, cakes, a hot coffee or two – it’s a lovely way to start the day.
  • Bellerive Boardwalk is perfect for some fish-and-chips or a post-cricket drink. Or, head back across the river for a night in Hobart’s waterfront pubs and bars, or to North Hobart for craft beers and multicultural eats.

Salamanca Place

Salamanca Place / Alastair Bett

Little on the outside, big on the inside

Right then, that’s stumps. What’s next?

For starters, head up to the top of kunanyi / Mt Wellington, that big mountain you’ve been eyeballing across the river. It might look little on the map, but somehow Hobart always seems bigger from up here.

Have a good look around and plan your next move. Perhaps a road trip to explore one of Tassie’s terrific regions, or design your time around your favourite things to do: food and drink, heritage and history, outdoors and wildlife, arts and culture … Tasmania awaits.

Cradle Mountain

Cradle Mountain / Tourism Tasmania & Jason Charles Hill