Here are a few curious – if not totally weird – places and things we saw on our trip to Tasmania.
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MONA – Museum of Old and New Art
Not sure where the ‘old’ art was but I am sure there was some. This place is like a modern art gallery spread over the whole area not just the buildings. It is supposedly Tasmania’s most visited tourist attraction. OK. Let’s get to it…
MONA lies less than 12 km north of central Hobart on the small Berriedale peninsula jutting out into the Derwent river. For the whole experience however you arrive by boat. Special tourist “Mona ferries” leave the port in central Hobart and that is where “the experience” is supposed to begin. (You can tell I am not a fan already – right?)
MONA is the work of David Walsh. A Tasmanian native who developed a liking for the arts. Walsh briefly studied mathematics and computer science in 1979 at Tasmania University, but made his fortune playing cards and by developing a gambling system used to bet on horse racing and other sports. He must have made a shit load of money out of it because this place – regardless of what you think of it – would have cost a fortune. (As an example, it is said that in 2009, Walsh and his syndicate won over $16 million during the Melbourne Cup Carnival.)
What began as a small museum of antiquities then developed into MONA. It is like a playground up top with a subterranean art museum below. In their own words the museum is described like this: “A temple to secularism, rationalism, and talking crap about stuff you really don’t know very much about. We won’t tell anyone. Come and play.”
Chester does MONA
It is easy to spend a lot of time here as there are areas to eat drink and be merry, with live music performances being common. However, by now Dani and his old dad had had enough. So we decided to make it more interesting by taking photos of Chester the chimp (so called as Dani bought him on a trip to Chester Zoo – see here for post on the zoo) in varying states of interaction with the “artwork”. Well, why not? We had fun doing it…
And here is something that – for me at least – kind of sums up the whole place. This superbly engineered piece of kit is an artificial shit maker. I kid you not! Designed and built to replicate some sort of digestive system, they put food in one end, it passes through several stages of “digestion” and shit appears at the other end. Dani’s mum went along to video one of the regular (no pun intended) demonstrations. I might add that in a future post. I preferred to be “on the piss” (again no pun intended) rather than the shit. So stayed in the bar area for another beer.
My personal take on MONA is that it is (at least) overrated. But then I am no fan of most of what passes for “art” in such places. But it certainly is different to all of the other (so called) modern art galleries I have visited. In a way, better even. So I guess I can (perhaps reluctantly) recommend it.
Less than 12km south from the centre of Hobart just past the town of Taroona, there is one of those little oddities you see form time to time and wonder what the hell it is. Something not quite a folly but looks like it was built for a purpose. What was this tall brick built tower all about?
This being right on the coast and at the entrance to the harbour I thought it might be something to do with the military. After all, Sydney harbour was chosen not so much for its natural geographic beauty that brings in visitors these day, but more for it’s natural defensive possibilities – against those darned Frenchies in case you were wondering.
It turn out tat this was built in 1870 specifically to make lead shot. Lead was melted at the top of the tower. When the molten lead was poured through holes made in a sheet of metal, it formed lead droplets. The tower had to be high enough so that by the time the lead drops hit the bottom they had hardened. And that is how lead shot was made back in the day. The lead fell through holes of varying sizes giving lead shot of different diameters. I never knew that. I had never given it any thought despite using lead shot for fishing ever since I was very young. Now I know, that’s how they did it back in the day.
The drop went further than it first appears. There were lots of steps leading down as well as up. Plus a great little café serving great scones for a Devonshire tea. Always great to scoff those.
There is one such shot tower in the city of Chester, UK. I only realised when I was over there this (northern hemisphere) summer. I must have walked or driven past it hundreds if not thousands of times but never paid it any attention. Like all of these things; once you know, you know.
Another Great Little Brewery…
Packed into a small industrial unit near the car hire place we used we stumbled across this little gem…The Last Rites Brewing Co.
They really can squeeze these places in almost anywhere. Which I suppose is great news for anyone wanting to start a craft ale business. With beer names like Dead Man’s Revenge, She’s No Bette Midler and Dead Man’s Day Off, this place has a bit of a Halloween feel to it. As it was so close to the car hire office it would have rude not to sample the brews before dropping the car off. Ahem… I mean after dropping the car off.
Check it out at www.lastritesbrewing.com.au and if you are in the area pay them a visit…