72 hours in Hobart
It's a lazy Sunday and I thought it was about time to share more of my adventures from March. Confession: I missed my flight from Hong Kong to Melbourne because I'm an idiot but the Cathay Pacific staff treated me really nicely and I managed to get on the next flight to Melbourne in exchange for an admin fee.
As I said previously, Australia has never been on my 'to visit' list and so I wasn't particularly fussed about what I was going to do once I got there. With my sister working, I thought I should probably take a few days mid-week to travel out of Melbourne and decided on Tasmania. I'm so glad I went - I absolutely loved the place and here's what I did.
The flight was just over an hour from Melbourne. I hadn't booked airport transfers because every penny I had in my bank account was now Ozzie dollars in my purse. I figured I'd just pay when I got off the plane. Wrong! The only way to get on the bus into Hobart is to book online, at least two hours in advance. So I had to pay $40 for a taxi which was a total pain.
I got dropped off at Salamanca Market and went straight to Retro Cafe to get some breakfast - scrambled eggs, mint tea and this chocolate brownie that was the size of a brick. The staff were incredibly friendly and attentive to every single customer and it's a brilliant place to people watch. I got a message from my Airbnb host to say my room was ready if I wanted to head over.
I forgot to take photos of my Airbnb but you can see it here. It was a little self contained apartment on the back of a house and I had my own entrance but knew there was someone right there if I needed it. It was about a 20 minute walk and I loved doing it every day - the houses in Hobart are beautiful and wandering the neighbourhood was a delight.
At the recommendation of every travel site and my school friend Scott, I dumped my stuff and headed straight back out to get the ferry along the River Derwent to MONA, the Museum of Old and New Art. I love me a good modern art museum, and seeing creations that make no sense to me or are downright ridiculous. The museum has a lot of self-awareness; you're provided with an ipod that maps out the museum and when you stand next to an exhibit, has a button that appears with the title 'ART WANK' that explains the piece.
My trip to MONA ended up being really special because I got to see work by Henry Darger. You can read here why that was so exciting. I didn't have as much time at MONA as I would have liked because I arrived so late in the day - you could easily make a whole day out of it and really take your time. I got the last ferry back down to Hobart at 6pm and got a poke of chips to eat on the way home.
Everyone I spoke to told me to climb Mount Wellington, so that's exactly what I did. It dominates the Hobart skyline and was the first thing I saw when I left my apartment every morning. I got the bus north to Fern Tree where the climb begins, to find that the straight route up the side of the mountain was closed for repairs and I would have to zig zag using four or more other routes.
It took me seven and a half hours to get up and back down again. The climb was brutal in places, with either no path at all (see below where you hop across rocks, looking out for thin metal poles to direct you) or having to pull myself up using my hands. I got about two thirds of the way up and thought, "Y'know...the view from here is pretty good...maybe I can just go home now!" but I persevered and the view was totally worth it.
I woke up absolutely exhausted on Friday after my long climb the day before. I had booked a hire car so I could see a bit more of the island and had planned to drive over to Port Arthur to visit a prison that was built by and held immigrant offenders. I'd managed to find a car hire place that did manual cars (I know automatic is easier but I've never driven one and it would have been yet another thing for me to think about, driving in an unfamiliar country). It ended up being an absolute faff. They needed me to provide my bank card, even though I'd supplied my card details when I booked it, and I didn't know the pin number for it. Then it turned out there was an additional £300 deposit I had to pay but would get back on my return (I didn't have a spare £300 kicking around in my bank account) and then they didn't even have the car I booked. I had already been doubting if I was ok to drive because I was just so tired, so I decided to leave it and spend the rest of the day exploring Hobart.
I started with breakfast at Jackman & McRoss where I ordered a chocolate croissant...look at the size of it! I couldn't even finish it because it was as big as my forearm and I was ready for a nap when I was done.
I went to the Immigration Museum in Melbourne the day I arrived and it was $15. Considering it's an IMMIGRATION museum, I found it skimmed over the history of the Aborigines and focused on the British people who had arrived en masse in the 1950s. The Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery covered the original "discovery" of Tasmania and Australia by the Dutch and British and didn't shy away from the way they treated the Aborigine people already living there. The museum also showed the work that is being done to preserve the culture now. I overheard a man ranting at a member of staff because he felt a piece of art hanging upstairs had no artistic merit...coincidentally, the only piece of art depicting a non-white person. Racism is alive and well, folks. The museum was really insightful, and free!
On Saturday, I flew home at lunch time. I was really disappointed to not see more of the island but I adored Hobart - I could easily spend a whole fortnight exploring Tasmania.