It’s yet another hike this morning as we’re picked up bright and early to head towards Mt. Wellington. We’ve had to say goodbye to Jerry whose going to see a sick friend in Melbourne, and are instead greeted by Brett, who we’ve heard a few stories about during the week.
As it turns out, we’re not hiking up the mountain, but first driving up to the summit. This mountain stands approx. 1271 metres tall, and protects the city of Hobart from the winds that plague the west coast. On the summit stands several electrical towers that provide Hobart with services – and are strong enough to actually effect the cars that drive up here.
Once we’d seen the summit, Brett drove us down to the 1000 metre mark where there’s a hiking trail down to the Springs – an area which freshwater can be found, and used to be home to a hotel, which sadly burned down in bushfires during the 60’s. The first chunk of the hike was a serious issue – it’s less a path and more a collection of rocks that one stumbles over. I had the luxury to be wearing the right footwear, but those in fashion boots and sandals were cursing their decision. Some flat out gave up and went back to the bus, while the rest just gritted their teeth and kept going. It’s actually a pretty good walk – you have to concentrate to make sure you don’t lose your footing, and the views from this high are great.
We had slightly less time here than normally because it was a Saturday. This mean we had a chance to do something special – Salamanca Markets. They’re a very famous market that only runs once a week, and is home to dozens of different food stalls, as well as local craftsman and generic trinkets. Also had at least 3 people selling their own published books, which was pretty cool.
Both Jerry and Brett had insisted that we all try the Wallaby Burrito being served at the Mexican stand, so that ended up being our first stop. It’s a very popular stand, and I wasn’t elated with how long it took to actually serve us considering how slow the two girls were going – however, the burrito was pretty good. The meat was soft and not chewy, and the lettuce and chilli beans light. My only issue was I felt it could have really benefited from some cheese – it was rather dry and slightly bland without an additional flavour.
While exploring the market I also had mini-pancakes and some fruit salad, but held off on buying anything substantial (although there were some frankly beautiful tops which Van Gogh artworks on them that really tempted me) since my bag’s packed enough as it is, and spent the rest of my time resting just outside before Brett returned to take us to our final stop. MONA.
Several people decided not to bother with this as they didn’t like the idea. The Museum of Old and New Art is the result of one of Hobart’s wealthiest men, who made his money as a professional gambler. Since Australia is rather disapproving of this career, he liked to buy art as a way of bringing his money home. Eventually he had so much, that he decided to open up a museum. Mid-way through building, he ran out of money, and bet on the Melbourne Cup – a decision that won him what he needed to finish.
MONA has a strange reputation – very little, if at all any, of the art is what you would call ‘traditional.’ Everything is by new artists, and generally seems to question what we call art. You start on the basement floor, and work your way up checking out paintings, sculptures and even movies. There are no signs – instead you get an ‘O’ – an iPod Touch that searches for nearby artwork and provides you with a summary, artist interviews and sometimes even musical accompaniment.
To be honest, only two pieces really stuck with me. One was ‘Artifact’ – a large bronze alien skull with had several see-through sections in which you could see moving objects – animated using strobe lighting. It was extremely effective and was meant to represent the human mind and consciousness – worked really well.
The other piece was from an English artist, who used taxidermy to create a fantasy situation. This was a hedgehog that was being fitted with some kind of artillery mount, and was surrounded by dozens of tiny fairies, delicately crafted with insect pieces, right down to tiny ribcages. It was awesome.
Sadly, most of the stuff in MONA either went over my head or just didn’t seem like art. It also seemed rather wrong to have a Mummy’s sarcophagus right next to a black and white photograph and a collection of drug pieces assembled like an insect collection. Some of it just seemed to be there to shock, or just be so meta people claimed it was art because of it. But what can you expect from a gallery whose owner adores Damien Hirst? A poo machine and a wall of plaster cast vagina’s apparently.
We were meant to have 3 hours at MONA, but unbeknownst to our guide (who had left us to take another traveller elsewhere), a wedding reception had booked the entire building, and everyone was kicked out at 4pm, resulting in us having to hand around on the grass for the next hour till he came back. Although this wasn’t an entire loss, I did get to see the wine bar get infested with fowl, and take great enjoyment in watching staff (including cooks) shoo away a duck, a chicken and a peacock away from the customers.