Dayna's Blog

Holidays, walks and who knows what


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A Winter Holiday in Hobart – June 2015

Many Melburnians escape winter by flying north, desiring sun and sandy beaches on their too-short escapes from our traditionally cold and wet weather at this time of year.

Suttons Beach, Redcliffe, South-East Queensland

Redcliffe, actually – just north of Brisbane. The best I could lay my hands on right now, but you get the point.

Eh.

We travelled south for a holiday of fire and ice.

Fire Organ en flambe at 'Dark Park' during Dark Mofo

Fire Organ en flambe at ‘Dark Park’ during Dark Mofo

An icy morning in South Hobart

An icy morning in South Hobart

And it was awesome!

To contrast our summer holiday in Hobart, we thought we’d return to experience winter. Happily, our holiday almost perfectly coincided with this year’s Dark Mofo celebrations (we arrived the day after they started), so we were once again out on the streets with many Hobartians enjoying the festival atmosphere – just somewhat more rugged up now compared to how we’d been dressed 5 months prior.

Dark Mofo is what you make of it. Feasting? There were five nights of gorging available this year. Entertainment? If you were too full to waddle or groan your way over to ‘Dark Park’ (aka Macquarie or “Mac” Point) or participate in the numerous other Dark Mofo events happening around the city, then there were entertainers circulating at the Winter Feast.

However, making that effort to wander over to Dark Park was definitely worth it, even if we didn’t get to see everything…

But aside from the Dark Mofo events, which were mostly run of an evening – what did we do in Hobart for 10 days?

We visited the Cascade Female Factory and learnt what life was like for many women who were sent to (or chose to) come to Hobart. The re-enactment tour called Her Story really brings this period to life, but both this and the pure historical tour are worth doing.

Cascade Female Factory is run by the same organisation who runs the Port Arthur Historic Sites. We have been meaning to visit Port Arthur for quite some time, and I can finally now say I’ve been – albeit possibly on the coldest and wettest day of our holiday!

I found the ballroom at Hobart City’s Town Hall which is gorgeous, then did a tour of Australia’s oldest theatre, the Theatre Royal on Campbell Street.

Having taken our Bromptons on holiday with us we were keen to explore Hobart’s bike paths – and found we were staying right next to the Hobart Rivulet track; a very convenient and safe way to either walk or ride into town from South Hobart – better than braving either Macquarie or Davey Streets as a cyclist!

Riding our Bromptons along the Hobart Rivulet Track into the city from South Hobart on an icy winter's morning

Riding our Bromptons along the Hobart Rivulet Track into the city from South Hobart on an icy winter’s morning

Although we had visited MONA on our summer holiday we wanted to visit again. Our first attempt ended with having lunch across the road and a ride home in the rain as we hadn’t checked ahead and only found out on arrival that MONA is closed of a Tuesday! Our second attempt was much more successful – and worth the re-visit for the new exhibits and permanent features we missed last time.

Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) was also on the list of places to re-visit as we didn’t finish exploring it in summer. This time, the Central Gallery was lit with red lights in celebration of the winter festival, lending a slight macabre feeling to the space, but it definitely fit in with the tone the that surrounds Dark Mofo. We made sure to explore the Bond Store Galleries – another fantastic old building, brilliantly fitted, maintained and suited for the displays contained.

We rode along the Intercity Trail to the Tasmanian Transport Museum in Glenorchy; admired their collection, saw some volunteers hard at work, and discovered a rail line (still in use) in the north-west that we hitherto knew nothing about.

Exploring the Salamanca Market is always on the cards when we’re in Hobart of a Saturday morning. On this trip we both wanted to buy more Mongrel Socks, but we picked up a range of things from a number of stalls; from apple liqueur to fresh passion fruit, fudge, a hand-crafted silver thistle broach for my floppy breton (cap/hat), and Tasmanian-themed screen-printed calico shopping bags.

Even in winter Salamanca Market is bustling by mid-morning

Even in winter Salamanca Market is bustling by mid-morning

The Farm Gate Market on Bathurst Street in the CBD is open every Sunday morning. If you think that Salamanca is too touristy, then this is probably the market for you. It’s definitely the farmers market to go to for local, fresh produce direct from the grower/maker that you can walk to from your city-based accommodation.

We only had time for a day trip to Bruny Island this trip, so it was more in the nature of a scouting mission for next time. Crossing the d’Entrecastaux Channel from Kettering, my hopes of walking up South Bruny Island’s Mt Mangana were dashed when our fears were confirmed – the C Grade roads (maintained by Forestry Tasmania, not the local council) were far too potholed for our Mini to traverse. I don’t think even rental cars ventured much further than we did – and that’s saying something! So, like everyone else, we had to be continent with a walk up the big sand dune at the northern end of the isthmus which connects the two islands, as well as a couple of short walks on some gorgeous beaches around Adventure Bay.

The Huon Valley is renown for good food and bountiful harvests of apples! The Apple Shed at Grove is a scenic drive from Hobart. The museum cleverly tells the story of the family who now produce Willie Smiths Cider – indulging in a delicious treat at the cafe while you’re there is highly recommended.

The ‘new’ Lake Pedder was on my list of places that I wanted to see, and towards the end of our trip we thought we’d drive out there. Since Mt Field National Park is on the way, we thought we’d stop for lunch and stretch our legs on the short walk to Russell Falls. If you like fungi, this really is the place for you! Mt Field really is a mycological hotspot. (I’ll come back and name them properly.) Oh, and the falls were lovely, too.

Strathgordon is the township on the shores of Lake Pedder; it’s the last settlement on the road – 84 km of well-made, winding road along from the Mt Field NP visitor centre. Stephen had fun driving; I was amazed by the view out the window. The very end of the road is the Gordon Dam where you can park and climb down to walk along the top of the dam wall. When you’re done taking photos and playing with echos, it’s another 184km back to Hobart.

So that’s what we did. As for what we ate? Well!

Dark Mofo’s Winter Feast ran for five nights this year (we went along on three nights). Five nights of gorging on sensational dishes from the best local restaurants and businesses. There was plenty of red meat – Tasman Quartermasters‘ Wallaby Bites with Pepperberry Aioli were very moorish, and I’ve never had a better steamed beef dumpling than those by Written on Tea, but there were also stalls preparing seafood and vegetarian meals. Naturally there was local wine, beer, cider and spirits to go with the local food – and a better selection of warmed beverages I don’t think I’ve ever had the pleasure of trying. Gluhwein, mulled cider, a gingery hot toddy – what a way to celebrate mid winter! But that doesn’t mean you couldn’t also get ice-cream. The deserts were every bit as marvellous as the savoury dishes! Ashbolt Farm did a marvellous crumble (they also did the fantastic gluhwein), but special mention has to be given to Lady Hester’s sourdough doughnuts!  The three nights we attended just weren’t enough to taste it all; maybe if the feast was run over, say…10 days?, we just might be able to pace ourselves and have enough time to get to try all the stalls…

Ethos Eat Drink on Elizabeth Street is a perfect example of fine dining in Tasmania. With a set six course degustation menu that is completed in a more modest time frame than what you might expect when you hear ‘degustation’ and one that doesn’t leave you feeling like you’re too drunk to walk out, I highly recommend Ethos to get a taste of Tasmanian produce at any time of the year. (Reservations required.)

BarCelona was a stroke of good luck. We were hoping to eat at Smolt, but the wait staff seemed disinterested (on a Monday night we thought it’d be the opposite) so we tried the restaurant opposite to them in Salamanca Square. It’s a funky bar/restaurant with great lighting highlighting the sandstone walls of the old building. A warm fire (and adequate overhead heating) matched the warm welcome we received from the waitstaff. We weren’t overly hungry that night so we shared a tasting plate of (locally sourced produce) but succumbed to temptation and had a desert each. It was just perfect.

Le Provincal is a French restaurant one block away from where were staying on Macquarie Street in south Hobart. In summer we never saw it open (because they were on holidays) so we were intrigued. Turns out it’s a very well-known restaurant and it pays to make a reservation more than one day in advance! The dishes are expertly prepared and delicious which you expect from the reviews. It’s the murals on the walls that I was most entranced by! Extraordinarily well done, if we hadn’t been dining in winter and at night I would have believed that we were actually in a farm cottage in France in late summer! Beautiful ambiance and fantastically authentic food.

And sometimes you just feel like fish ‘n’ chips. Flathead Cafe was also just up the road from where we stayed. Since they’re a fish monger as well as a cafe, you can check for yourself just how fresh the fish is that you’re going to be eating. It looked pretty good to me (as you’d hope)! What’s more, it tasted great – not just the fish, which you’d expect, but the coleslaw too. A place that puts as much consideration into the preparation of the ‘side dish’ as they give to the main is a pretty good catch, I reckon. (Pun intended.)

Does finding a table for breakfast at 9:30am on a weekday morning in a South Hobart cafe sound tricky to you? We didn’t think so, but then we didn’t realise until we arrived at Ginger Brown that it is The place to go for brekkie in South Hobart. (Even so, you can still reserve a table! That’s unheard of in Melbourne!) So why is it so popular? Could it be because of the delightfully plump, giant marshmallow they serve with each hot chocolate? Surely it’s not for the jaffa accompanying your cappacino. No, my guess is that it’s the creative way they construct breakfasts. My house-baked crumpets were light and fluffy, Stephen’s crumble was equally delicious. We went twice (both times lucky just to get a seat in the window and not out on the cold footpath) and were impressed on both occasions.

Ginger Brown is a very popular cafe in South Hobart on Macquarie Street

Ginger Brown is a very popular cafe on Macquarie Street in South Hobart

Naturally we couldn’t pass up at least one brekkie at Jackman & McRoss at Battery Point. It was a cold morning when we rode in on our Bromptons, but there was enough room behind Stephen’s chair to put both and have them out of the way. The rooms aren’t crammed full of tables and chairs as you’d expect to find in a Melbourne cafe. On the other hand, you may need to wait to be seated. Since Jackman & McRoss are a proper bakery, their huge selection of baked goods to purchase and take away are all mouth-wateringly tempting – even after a filling breakfast!

Our accommodation this trip was once again Fireman’s Loft in South Hobart. The location is perfect, especially if – like us – you’re planning to use your accommodation as a ‘base camp’ and go exploring each day; the carpark isn’t a long walk from your room, you don’t have to tackle the city traffic and there are so many conveniences nearby like Hill Street Grocer, The Lost Sock (Laundrette), chemist, newsagent, postoffice, bakery, cycle shop – it’s a great little village along Macquarie Street. On this trip we also discovered the Hobart Rivulet Track into the city was just a stone’s throw away from the Loft. The Hobart Rivulet Track is a shared path that connects Collins Street in the city with the Cascade Brewery. It’s the easiest and most pleasant (and sometimes coldest) route into and out of the city, and the safest route for cyclists. Although it is a dirt path that can freeze in winter, I still feel it’s better than mixing it with the traffic on either Macquarie or Davey Streets – it’s a much easier gradient, too.

You can book to stay at Fireman’s Loft (upstairs) or Flourish (downstairs) through either Stayz or Airbnb, but why not contact Tracey directly via the Facebook links?

I aim to (eventually) write separate posts about each of the places we visited – as well as update my Tasmania pages – as we have plenty of photos and enjoy sharing our love of Tasmania. It’s a wonderful state to explore.

🙂

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MONA, Museum of Old & New Art – Hobart, Tasmania, Dec 2014

“Oooh, you must visit MONA – you’ll love it!”

‘Really? How do you know that?’ I thought to myself, fighting down a childish impulse to resolve not to go – or if I end up going (dragged, kicking and screaming – metaphorically, of course) to not like it, simply to prove them wrong.

Unsubstantiated claims get my back up.

But on this occasion, they turned out to be correct.

I started to think there might be something there worth seeing after reading this post from Jules, who was visiting with her family (also from Melbourne).

If, at the end of this, you think you might also want to visit, then my first tip is: if it’s peak season (i.e. school holidays) don’t queue up at Constitution Dock to catch the Mona Roma MR-1 (catamaran) 15min before it’s due to depart and hope to get onboard. You may be lucky, but you are more likely to be disappointed. Purchase your tickets in advance – at the ticket booth or online.

Lining up to buy Posh Pit tickets for the MONA ROMA MR-1 at the booth at Constitution Dock - Hobart, Tasmania

Lining up to buy tickets for the MONA ROMA MR-1 at the booth at Constitution Dock.

MONA Roma bus was available to take people who couldn't fit aboard the MR-1

MONA Roma bus was available to take people who couldn’t fit aboard the MR-1

Tip two: Buy tickets for the Posh Pit if you can!

No, they’re not cheap, but it was very nice. Also, Posh Pit ticket holders “enjoy a complimentary, half-hour private introduction to Moorilla with a tasting of [their] Pinot noir in our Barrel Room, 12.30pm Wednesday-Monday.” Unfortunately we were visiting on a Tuesday, otherwise we would have liked to have done this tasting. (If this is something that interests you, please confirm prior to booking that this offer is still available to avoid disappointment.) 

Serenaded with background music striking just the right tone and volume, a few glasses of bubbly and a shared plate of truly delicious morsels later, we arrived in just 30min at David Walsh’s dungeon known as the Museum of Old and New Art (or ‘MONA’ to everyone) to explore the diverse collection, and attempt to use the artwork as life-sized images from a 3D View-Master to peer into David’s mind.

Disembarking from the MR-1, passengers are confronted with the 99 steps leading up to the mirrored entrance. I would have liked to have taken a little more time to appreciate the atheistic of this section (and that was before I read about the amount of consideration that went into their design!), but it started to rain again so we hurried along with everyone else.

We already knew that the museum starts at the bottom, but the main entrance (and lockers for backpacks and umbrellas) are on the top (‘ground’) level with a shop and cafe that enjoys very good views across Berriedale Bay to Mt Wellington to the south, and along the Derwent River to the east.

Having presented our MONA tickets (purchased with our return ferry rides on the MR-1), we descended the spiral staircase in the middle of the building.

Descending into the depths of MONA around the glass elevator shaft

Descending into the depths of MONA around the glass elevator shaft

You probably know by now; I love rocks.

I’ve mentioned it before, usually as justification to post photos of forests full of huge granite boulders.

Well, have I also mentioned that it’s not just outdoor rock, but indoor stone that I love?

They didn’t intend the building to be an attraction, but Stephen and I agree it’s probably the ‘installation’ most worth viewing. Built on a tight budget, the architectural style is ‘industrial’. Some people may be turned off by the concrete floors and pillars, the exposed concrete waffle slab ceilings; but I liked seeing the bones of the building. And I’m not turned off by brutalist styles, which might help. If not thought through properly this style might look unfinished and poorly constructed… but here, they’ve made it work.

And there’s no way – no way – they could ever have allowed that huge and stunningly gorgeous Jurassic sandstone to be disguised. Perfectly illuminated, it brings warmth, life and colour to what might otherwise be perceived as a stark and artificial subterranean environment.

Having queued and received our iPods and instructions on using the The O app, which provides various explanations of the artworks, we gave the Void Bar a miss (having indulged on the ferry, more alcohol was hardly required at this point) and entered the first exhibition on the lowest level, ‘River of Fundament‘.

My very first impression was ‘how much time are we going to spend looking at The O instead of at the artwork? Fortunately, you can save and email your tour to yourself (and share it with others), so you don’t have to spend your whole day reading all about the pieces and the artist – that can wait until later. The perfect utilisation of modern technology.

But it does mean you see a lot of this:

The O works thanks to lots of Real Time Location Services (RTLS) devices on the ceilings. Which also means your smartphone works, even though you’re three storeys down and under a lot of concrete. Nice work guys!

In contrast to the hidden, mood lighting outside this gallery, the exposed rows of fluorescent tubes lighting the cavernous spaces in the ‘River of Fundament’ exhibition created a warehouse basement feeling to the space as we wandered between groups of people loosely clustered around each art object. I found myself reflecting on the right of individual collectors to own ancient relics. Sure, these objects are (currently) on public display, but was it right to take them from tombs (not everything is from someone’s tomb) in the first place?

Not everything in the collection was originally from ancient Egypt; some of the art has been created to tie in to that theme, but it usually wasn’t until I read the description of the art on The O that I understood how. (Read more about them here.)

 

On the whole I was happy to emerge from the gallery, especially since were back at the sandstone wall again. This small space is just exquisite with water seeping at the top of the wall making such vivid contrasting colours on the rock.

As we made our way up the levels there were a few artworks that I found interesting (no, I’m not going to describe the whole place!):

Untitled (White Library)
To me this is room of blank paper is about knowledge, learning, ideas, history and the future.

Kryptos
Like something out of the Matrix, there are short sequences of binary code on blackened walls, lit only by wells of super-bright LED’s from the edges of the floor. There is a secret message to find, and a surprise, too.

Snake

I like colours, and in a building with no windows any colour is good. At first the 46m long mural may look like it’s all the one picture repeated over and over, just coloured differently, but you should take a closer look.

Inconspicuous and unobtrusive were the staff watching over every piece of artwork.  There was plenty to see even with a couple of spaces closed pending new exhibitions. We didn’t even see everything; my head needed a break after 2 hours of plumbing the depths of MONA.

Outside, across the tennis court (because – why not?) and up the steps is Moorilla winery. On the lawn on the opposite side of the winery, preparations for New Year celebrations were being made with a stage and outdoor food and drink serving facilities being set up.

In addition to The Source restaurant, there is the Wine Bar where visitors can pick up a light (or filling), quick meal. We enjoyed a shared vegetarian antipasto platter with a glass of one of the ‘house’ whites each. (I apologise for the poor description – I didn’t order lunch or the wine and I don’t remember which label – probably Muse – or grape variety it was – possibly riesling.) It was a lovely, relaxed lunch – but it was very busy in the Wine Bar; we were lucky to spot a couple of stools to commandeer along the wall near where the chef was deftly putting lunch orders together.

The weather had improved for the ride back on the ferry so I stood out on the front deck and admired the scenery. Unfortunately missing out on the sweet treats served to Posh Pits guests. When I popped in to see if they’d been handed out, all I found was an empty plate! At least Stephen enjoyed them.

Departing from Constitution Dock at 9:30am and arriving back at 2:15pm (catching the 1:45pm ferry from MONA), we had plenty of time to look at everything we wanted and enjoyed an unhurried lunch. Taking the first ferry for the day also meant we had time to do other things in town when we got back.

I am very pleased we made time to go and see MONA.

: )


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Tassie Summer Holiday 2014-15

It’s all just memories now… But damn fine ones, I might add!

After an absence of way too long (just under 2 years) we were BACK! And Hobart over Christmas/New Year is THE place to be when you’re in Tassie – even if you’re not a ‘foodie’, even if you’re not into sailing, even if you ‘don’t get’ art, and even if nature gives you a rash… there will still be something here for you to do and enjoy.

Having made no reservations in advance (except passage aboard the Spirit of Tasmania and our accommodation), our itinerary was very flexible. It turned out as follows:

Friday – Depart Port Melbourne for Devonport aboard the Spirit of Tasmania

Saturday – Drive to Hobart, Salamanca Markets, Hobart bookshops

Sunday – The Taste of Tasmania, Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery (TMAG)

Monday – Mt Field National Park, The Taste of Tasmania

View of Lake Fenton from Mt Field East Circuit on a stormy day

View of Lake Fenton from Mt Field East Circuit on a stormy day

Tuesday – Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), TMAG, The Taste of Tasmania

Wednesday – Hike Mt Wellington, The Taste of Tasmania’s New Years Eve Party

The view from the top of Mt Wellington was especially good after the walk up

The view from the top of Mt Wellington was especially good after the walk up

Thursday – Drive to Sheffield in northern Tasmania via the Midland Highway

Friday – Hike Mt Roland, near Sheffield

Descending Mt Roland, the peaks of Cradle Mountain - Lake St Clair National Park closer than expected

Descending Mt Roland, the peaks of Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park closer than expected

Saturday – Visit Launceston, the Cherry Shed at Latrobe, depart Devonport for Port Melbourne aboard the Spirit of Tasmania

Our base for five nights in South Hobart was the Fireman’s Loft, a small apartment for a couple decorated with firemen-themed paraphernalia to pay homage to the buildings’ history. The Fireman’s Loft is either a 20min walk or a 5min drive/bus ride into town.

In Sheffield we stayed for two nights at the Kentish Hills Retreat (motel) which was clean, comfortable and an easy 5min walk to town.

We would have liked to spend longer in Hobart. There was so much that we were hoping to do this trip that we just didn’t have time to squeeze in. Trips to Port Arthur and Bruny Island spring to mind, exploring the Huon Valley (south of Hobart), visiting the Maritime Museum, finish looking at everything in TMAG (because even after two visits we still didn’t see everything!), restaurants, wineries – not to mention revisiting places we’ve previously been, such as the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens (which are lovely and definitely worth a visit).

But we were lucky to get five nights between two other bookings at the Fireman’s Loft – and I made my booking 11 months in advance! As I have previously said, if you want to visit during the summer holiday period, you have to book well in advance!

You know, when people ask me what I like most about Tasmania and I reply “Everything,” I really do mean everything!

: )