20 December 2011

Tasmania

Jane and Catherine - Birthday Girls


When your wife and her lifelong friend (well, less two weeks) reach a significant birthday they decided to celebrate it with a visit to Tasmania and husbands were invited along.  It was not so much a birthday party as a birthday festival.  After the local celebrations in June were over, the next five months were spent planning the assault on Tasmania – it turned  out to be quite an event.



Soon after we arrived a walk on the Hobart waterfront revealed a harbour flotilla celebrating the one-hundredth year (to the hour) of Mawson’s departure to Antarctica.  All arranged for the birthday girls, the husbands said. Then came the 19 gun salute – the girls waved regally through the smoke.  They even bowed for the flypast – these Aussies knew how to put on a good show for our wives.


Entrance to MONA
MONA is the new Museum of Old and New Art. We took our time over the visit.  It was worth waiting for, an amazingly presented eclectic collection resulting from one man's (David Walsh) passion for art.   On the 3.5 hectares site are a vineyard, a winery, roof garden, tennis court, restaurant, fantastic accommodation, jetty, helicopter pad and gymnasium – oh, and a  gallery on four levels partly cut into the sandstone of the peninsula site.
When you check in to the gallery (with its cafĂ©, library and bookshop) you are provided with a sturdy iPod-like device and, if you want them, earphones.  The device is self locating and provides the visitor with a summary of the art object, a fuller explanation called Artwank and Gonzo.  Gonzo is the commentary provided by either David Walsh, another art commentator or an interview with the artist.  As you tour the gallery you record your tour and the details of the art are sent to your Email address that evening.  I particularly liked this feature as you can re-live your visit and it saves you the sore back and neck and eyestrain often associated with peering at labels in the half-light of gallery space.

The art is a curious mixture of antiquities, modern and contemporary.  It never fails to interest or fascinate the viewer.  Some of it is challenging and irreverent (you are given the opportunity to record that you love or hate items) and some could even be better placed in a museum for forensic pathology or psychopathology.  Macabre maybe but you need only view as long as it fascinates or revolts you – and it can be thought provoking. At one extensive array of human female genitalia a young Aussie sheila nearby was heard to say “ if you were a bloke you wouldn’t know where to start” – I was mulling over the likelihood of drunken gynaecologists!  If you need a drink – there is a bar there too! Overall, David Walsh's art museum is well worth a visit.  There were other exhibits in other Hobart galleries - my main interests were in those commemorating Mawson's adventures.

Wineglass Bay

Gordon River Forest

Tasmanian Echidna - Cape Raoul

We visited Port Arthur (great convict ruins) and the Freycenette Peninsula (beautiful Wineglass Bay) and then went over to Strauchan where we saw more ruins of convict penitentiaries on Sarah Island (grim) and cruised up the Gordon River (saved). The idea of a holiday in Tasmania is recommended.