Ten Tales of Tassie — Hobart and surrounds

Part Two of a series of ten

Although you might think that my trip to Tassie is a holiday within a holiday and I can do as I please, I am under strict instructions to do three things while I am in Hobart:

  1. Salamanca Market (Saturday)
  2. MONA — Museum of Old and New Art
  3. Go to the top of Mount Wellington

Hobart is an interesting little city and has a couple of Art Deco buildings which I have decided is my favourite type of architecture.

I am booked into the YHA which is slap-bang in the middle of town. The annoying thing about visiting a city centre in a hire car — there’s no free parking. I suddenly find myself driving round in circles looking for spaces and worrying that I don’t have enough coins to feed meters. It’s all very worrying. Luckily with it being nearly the weekend, I find a street (the only street it seems in central Hobart) where charges only apply Monday to Friday so I only have Friday afternoon to worry about.

This is easily rectified as I decide to spend it at Museum of Old and New Art which is a little way out of the city and means I can save the car from getting a parking ticket. If you don’t have a car, there’s a (rather pricey) shuttle ferry from Brooke Street Pier. The museum is a good space and there are some quirky exhibits though not as much old stuff as the title suggests. Furthermore, my friend Schmotty had visited the gallery the month before and taken photos so it appears I have already previewed the best bits.

They have these funky iphone-like devices with headphones that tell you about the nearby exhibits as you approach them, rather than put any descriptions about the artist or the work on the walls. Whilst this is initially fun, I eventually get sick of hearing this pretentious American voice drone on about how the horizontal layers of paint represent the birth of humanity and the vertical smudges are indicative of the artist’s inner struggle blah blah blah.

Whereas I am happy to go to the cinema on my own, I now realise that I need to go to an art gallery with someone else in order to focus my mind, otherwise I gradually lose interest. I also can’t help thinking (and I am sure that I’m not alone) that although some of this modern work is genius, other bits I look at and think “I could do that.”

One thing I did find funny was the artistic interpretations of 30 of Madonna’s presumed fans to her well known hits.

I decide to get up early on Saturday and blitz the market before it gets too crowded. Salamanca Market officially opens at 8.30am but most stalls are set up by 8.00am.

It’s a long street with a couple of hundred stalls and it’s true that there is some stuff on sale that you don’t see at other markets so if you’re into markets, you’ll love it. But at the end of the day, I don’t need a wooden placque for my shed, a lavender pillow or a fluorescent candle and I’ve just had breakfast so although I am tempted by the wedges of cheesecake, I am proud to say I resist. The only thing that nearly reels me in is a bottle of Tasmanian-made Damson Gin but it’s $85 and only something like 24 proof. I suppose they do have to substitute something if they are adding more fruit, but is it really necessary to get rid of so much of the alcohol?

So I now realise that it’s not just art galleries but markets that I need to visit with someone else as it’s 8.40am and I’ve seen all I want to see. I decide to collect the car. I point the car in the direction of Hastings Caves (see Part Three).

Later that day, I complete my trip by heading up to Mount Wellington. If it’s a schlep to get to Mt Wellington’s foothills, it’s a schlep and a half to get to the summit, weaving round corner after corner, convinced that the Almighty keeps moving the goalposts. If it wasn’t so hard and scary to do a U-turn half way up a mountain, then I would do it, because quite frankly I am bored that it’s taking so long, mostly because the car in front is insisting on climbing the mountain at 35kph. Once I’m finally there however, on a day like today, the view is magnificent, if a little hazy.

The following day, I leave Hobart. A half an hour north, I find the town of Richmond which has some interesting Georgian housing and the oldest existing bridge and the oldest Catholic church in Australia which date back to 1823 and 1836 respectively.

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