Hobart at Easter

Glen and I took advantage of a family wedding in Sydney to plan a getaway to Tasmania for the Easter break. Despite Glen’s sister, Miranda, having lived in Hobart for a few years, we never made it down to Van Diemen’s Land. Now she lives in Sydney.

Sydney to Hobart

After yum cha with family, we flew on Good Friday to Hobart. The flight was short (only 2 hours) and we landed in Hobart’s dinky airport. Despite its size, it’s classed as an international airport – yet we can’t get to Perth directly.

I’d hired us a car from a company called Sixt, which, because of the cheap rate, was not at the airport. I left Glen to collect our one piece of luggage while I went in search of the shuttle bus. I called the company to find out where they were but as I chatted to the operator, I saw the bus and was whisked away from the airport to the rental.

The process for collecting the car was slow. There was only one guy on duty, which was fine, but it took a while to process the booking for the couple before me. Then the internet connection stopped working so it took even longer to get that sorted.

When it was finally my turn, there was a lot of manual entering, which seemed strange considering the booking had all been done online and confirmed. I was then told the price would be $973 for a five-day rental. Luckily I had the confirmation sheet with me and could show that it was, in fact, not this ridiculous sum but a much more reasonable $243. More data entry and I was then given a car. It has very little power, is manual (I just assumed it would be automatic – lucky I have a manual licence) and has little suspension.

I zoomed back to the airport, collected Glen and we drove into Hobart. We checked into the hotel – Fountainside – then went for a walk around the harbour. Not much was open, what with it being Good Friday, but it was a pleasant walk.

We looked at the old buildings of the Salamanca area, wandered around Princes Walk, through quaint streets that at one time reminded us of Halifax, then St John, then country England. All the while, we were looking for a place for dinner, and we settled on Monty’s of Montpellier.

Despite the outside appearance, the restaurant is tastefully decorated and comes with all the fanciness you’d expect from any other city with good fine dining available. I had salmon and mussels for entree, while Glen had asparagus. For mains, I had gold band snapper and Glen, the beef. We also wine and then dessert. It was all really good food, interesting combinations and all up a pleasant experience.

Hobart to Geeveston

Saturday morning saw us walk down to the Salamanca Market, which got busier the longer we were there. Most of the items on option were craft or clothes with some food stalls in between, though I didn’t quite fancy curry or kim chi at 9am. We strolled along each aisle, buying Danish pancakes and cotton/bamboo socks. We resisted buying knick-knacks, such as decorative wooden pears or glass mushrooms.

As I had planned a fairly laden schedule for our Tasmania trip, I was glad we were able to get through the markets earlier than expected and get on the road. We headed out to MONA (Museum of Old and New Art), which is such a drawcard for Hobart. The museum is built down so you start at “ground floor” and then descend to “B3”. There you are given an “O” (an iPhone device with gallery and artwork interpretation on it) and a set of headphones.

There are no panels next to the artwork so the device is how you find out about it, offering the bare facts (who made it, what’s it made of, where it came from and what’s it called) to more in depth interpretation, questions to prompt discussion, and also insights from the collector/curator.

While at first I struggled to want to use the O, I found not having interpretation there in front of me very freeing. Where there’s a sign, your eye is drawn to it, away from the artwork. By not having these panels, you’re given the freedom to look at what’s in front of you, the thing you’re actually here to see. A robotic voice can then read out the text to you from the O so you don’t “miss” the information but otherwise it’s quite relaxed in how you experience it all.

My favourite piece in the whole gallery was the White Library. This was a room lined with shelves and with a couple of tables and chairs, arranged to look like a library. The shelves are then stacked with books of varying sizes and thickness and there’ll all white. There’s no writing whatsoever. I can’t remember what the interpretation said exactly but it was about how if no one reads the books in the library (or any books or any thing), then they may as well be filled with blank paper. /mindblown. I got such a thrill from having “got” the piece.

Other favourites included the “Fat Car” (a stylised Porsche that has been made fat) and “Kryptos” (though more because of the collector’s down-to-earth attitude about the artist’s commissioned work that if it were crap, he could just close up the door and no one would know it was there). We finished exploring the galleries and ended with lunch at the cafe, looking out over the bay and watching a brush turkey with its chick.

Scores more people arrived as we left so we were glad to have gotten there so early. I then drove us south for about two hours, heading into Geeveston then to the Tahune AirWalk. We drove through a “working forest”, something that the signage was very clear about. The Tahune AirWalk is a suspended structure that takes you into the treetops. We have something similar in Walpole, Western Australia, though I think this one is bigger, and there’s also a pretty epic cantilever looking over the river.

Glen was white-knuckled through most of our time in the air, while I was calm and enjoying the height. He couldn’t understand why, considering how terrified I was doing the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb and that came with safety harnesses. Perhaps I’ve become less afraid in the past 11 years. Throwing my gold coin donation off the edge, however, did make me go weak at the knees, as if I was throwing a piece of myself over the edge.

After the airwalk we took the track to the two suspension bridges. I LOVE suspension bridges. Glen DOES NOT love suspension bridges. I’m afraid I couldn’t help but jump up and down, causing Glen to get very annoyed, but he survived, as did I. The walk on terra firma was lovely and we saw lots of different types of fungi, reminding me of the time we were in La Mauricie National Park in Quebec and there was fungi everywhere. (More photos of the airwalk when I get back to Perth; forgot to bring the cable.)

We finished the walk quicker than the recommended walking time, jumped back in the car and headed out of the forest to our accommodation at Geeveston. We’re staying at Cambridge House B&B, a beautifully restored heritage building built in 1870. There’s a creek next to the property which is home to platypus. We’ve been told they’re out and about any time of the day (unusual for platypus) but we haven’t seen them yet. There’s still time!

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