Among the many and various curiosities that greet those arriving in Hobart, one that literally towers above the rest, is a distinctive brick chimney standing over the highway on the city centre's eastern edge.
Built for the Hobart Gas Company, this grand two-tonne stack is square-based yet octagonal through its upper reaches. Built more than a century ago, it was used for barely a dozen years.
Its significance is less about longevity, however, than it is about science; this handsome construction represents the technological underpinnings of modern Hobart and the innovative steam, gas and electric energy that powered it.
At its base, the handful of original gasworks buildings are now a restaurant, convenience store, bottle shop and offices. Above them, the stack remains, a quiet reminder of an industry that once was -- and a unique signpost for those visiting Hobart.
Hobart Gas Company was formed in 1854 to light the city streets. Processed from imported coal – the local product was of poor quality – the new 'town gas' impacted the young city of Hobart like nothing before it. Gaslighting in factories, homes and streets replaced oil lamps and candles, so that working hours lengthened, streets became safer, and the convenience of gaslighting and cooking came to homes.