Mount Wellington is a mountain on whose foothills is built much of the city of Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. It is often referred to simply as 'the Mountain' by the residents of Hobart, and it rises to 1271 m AHD over the city.
It is frequently snow covered, sometimes even in summer and the lower slopes are thickly forested, but criss-crossed by many walking tracks and a few fire trails. There is also a sealed but narrow road to the summit, about 22 km travel from the city. An enclosed lookout near the summit provides spectacular views of the city below and to the east, the Derwent estuary, and also glimpses of the World Heritage Area nearly 100 km to the west.
From Hobart, the most distinctive feature of Mt. Wellington is the cliff of dolerite columns known as the Organ Pipes.
Mount Wellington was originally referred to as 'Unghbanyahletta' (or 'Ungyhaletta'), 'Poorawetter' (or ‘Pooranetere’, also 'Pooranetteri'), or 'Kunanyi' to the indigenous people of Tasmania. The Palawa, the surviving descendants of the original indigenous Tasmanians, tend to prefer the latter name. The indigenous population are believed to have arrived in Tasmania approximately 30-40,000 years ago. Their beliefs and traditions, coupled with modern archaeological research, suggest that they may have occupied and utilised the mountain and its surrounding areas for much of the occupation of the island.
The first European to site Mount Wellington was most probably Abel Tasman when he sailed around and charted the island in 1642. Although he recorded charts of the Hobart area, no name appears to have been given to the mountain.
No other Europeans visited Tasmania until the late eighteenth century, when several visited southern Tasmania (then referred to as Van Diemens Land) including Frenchman Marion du Fresne (1772), Englishmen Tobias Furneaux (1773), James Cook (1777) and William Bligh (1792), and Frenchman Bruni d'Entrecasteaux (1792–93). In 1793 Commodore John Hayes arrived at the Derwent River (giving that river its name), and also named the mountain as Skiddaw, after the mountain in the Lake District, although this name never gained popularity. In 1798 Matthew Flinders and George Bass circumnavigated the island. Whilst they were resting in the Derwent River, Flinder’s named the mountain ‘Table Mountain’ for its similarity in appearance to Table Mountain in South Africa. Nicholas Baudin led another French expedition in 1802, and whilst sheltering in the Derwent River (which they referred to as ‘River du Nord’) Baudin named the mountain ‘Montagne du Plateau’, however it was the British who first settled in the Hobart area in 1804, resulting in Flinder’s name of ‘Table Mountain’ becoming more popular.
Table Mountain remained its common name until in 1832 it was decided to rename the mountain in honour of the Duke of Wellington who, with Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher finally defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in present-day Belgium on 18 June 1815.
Throughout the 19th and into the 20th centuries, the Mountain was a popular day-resort for residents of Hobart. To that end, many excursion huts were built over the lower slopes of the mountain. However, none of these early huts survive as they were all destroyed during the disastrous bushfires of 1967, though modern huts are open to the public at the Springs, the Pinnacle, the Chalet - a picnic spot about halfway between the Springs and the Pinnacle - and elsewhere. Sadly, many of the more remote huts have suffered from vandalism, and some are in virtually derelict condition.
In February 1836, Charles Darwin, visited Hobart Town and climbed Mt. Wellington. In his book "The Voyage of the Beagle", Darwin described the mountain thus;
"... In many parts the Eucalypti grew to a great size, and composed a noble forest. In some of the dampest ravines, tree-ferns flourished in an extraordinary manner; I saw one which must have been at least twenty feet high to the base of the fronds, and was in girth exactly six feet. The fronds forming the most elegant parasols, produced a gloomy shade, like that of the first hour of the night. The summit of the mountain is broad and flat, and is composed of huge angular masses of naked greenstone. Its elevation is above the level of the sea. The day was splendidly clear, and we enjoyed a most extensive view; to the north, the country appeared a mass of wooded mountains, of about the same height with that on which we were standing, and with an equally tame outline: to the south the broken land and water, forming many intricate bays, was mapped with clearness before us. ..."
The Mountain has played host to some notorious characters over time, especially the bushranger 'Rocky' Whelan, who murdered several bushwalkers through the early 19th century. The cave where he lived is known appropriately as 'Rocky Whelan's Cave', and is an easy walk from the Springs.
The road to the summit was constructed in the early 1930s as a relief scheme for the unemployed, an idea initiated by Mr. A.G. Ogilvie, the Premier of Tasmania of the day. While the road is officially known as the Pinnacle Drive, it was, for some time, also widely known among residents of Hobart as 'Ogilvie's Scar' because at the time it was constructed 'the Mountain' was heavily logged and almost bare, and the road was an all-too-obvious scar across the already denuded mountain. Today the trees have grown again but the 'scar' most people see today is not actually the road but a line of large rocks with no trees 50-100 m above the road. The road itself was opened in August 1937, after nearly two years of work, by Governor Sir Ernest Clark.
Mt. Wellington was selected by many broadcasters as the site of broadcast radio and television transmitters because it provides line-of-sight transmission to a much larger area of Hobart and surrounding districts than any other point in the region. The first television stations to transmit from there were TVT-6 (now WIN Television) and ABT-2 (the ABC) in 1960.
The first weather station was set up on Mount Wellington in 1895 by Clement Lindley Wragge.
A cable car development has been proposed for the mountain on various occasions, but public opposition has so far prevented any major developments.
The mountain significantly influences the city's weather, and intending visitors to the summit are advised to dress warmly against the often icy winds at the summit, which have been recorded at sustained speeds of over 157 km/h (97 mph), with rare gusts of up to 200km/h (160 mph). In winter the mountain is often snowcapped. It often snows in Winter though lighter snowfalls in Spring, Summer and Autumn are common. It is advised that all times of the year dress for icy conditions. A day on the summit can consist of clear sunny skies, then rain, then snow, then icy winds and then clear again.