Thursday, 18 May 2017

Around Hobart

Events of Thursday 18th May 2017

I commented in an earlier post that Tuesday 16th May turned into a 'Railway Day'. Well, Thursday 18th May turned into a 'Museums Day'.

The hotel staff had recommended the 'Museum of Old and New Art', generally called 'MONA'. In my previous report, I remarked that both the City and my hotel seemed a little 'arty' for my taste and the 'flyer' I'd been given reinforced my fear that 'MONA' might prove too pretentious. But I'd been told that you can reach 'MONA' by a fast catamaran service which took 30 minutes from Brooke Street Pier, no more than ten minutes walk from my Hotel.

The prospect of a river trip convinced me so I took a light breakfast and walked past Victoria Dock, Constitution Dock and Elizabeth Street Pier to reach Brooke Steet Pier. Elizabeth Street Pier was the traditional, long 'finger' of land, thrust into the dock with moorings on both sides. A building with the general appearance of the earlier Transit Shed, either thoroughly modernised or perhaps new build, extended the length of the pier. The remains of railway sidings flanked the transit shed on both sides, 'inset' into the pier and with the now-redundant flangeways filled with tarmac. Only later did I discover that the building is now 'Somerset on the Pier' - serviced apartments.

Hobart: Elizabeth Street Pier, looking towards the city.

Brooke Street Pier, at first sight, appeared similar to Elizabeth Street Pier, although I was puzzled by the need to access the pier via a broad, wooden 'gangway' which I assumed at the time to be an "architect's affectation". Once again, it was much later that I discovered that the original 'pier' had been removed and replaced by a floating, concrete pontoon carrying a purpose-built construction housing various places to eat and drink, souvenir shops and booking for the catamaran to 'MONA'. I purchased a combined Ferry/Museum ticket and only had about ten minutes to wait before boarding for the first trip of the day at 9.30 a.m.

The fast catamaran 'Mona Roma' in her unusual livery, moored alongside Brooke Street 'pier'.

The fast ferry left on time, the sun came out and I decided I'd made a good decision. As we left the pier, I had a good view of the Australian-built icebreaker 'Aurora Australis' at her berth. Built in 1989, this ship is owned by P & O but regularly chartered for research and support in Antarctica. Now at the end of her 'predicted service life', the Australian government plan to have a replacement built. There's a Wikipedia article here.

Icebreaker 'Aurora Australis' berthed in Hobart.

The catamaran headed upstream on the River Derwent, past the dock quays on the West bank. The cargo ship I'd spotted the previous day had departed and been replaced by a smaller cargo ship. On the East shore, we passed residential areas. We passed through the centre span of the Tasman Bridge, which I'd crossed by road the previous afternoon on the way in from the airport.

Looking astern, having passed under the Tasman Bridge.

The tanker ship I'd seen at the oil depot the previous day had sailed and the oil berth was unoccupied. Further on, a large, fairly elderly industrial plant discharging steam appeared on our left and the ferry slowed as we passed the site. I'm afraid I didn't recognise the plant's function. Only later did I discover that it produces zinc from zinc ores (like zinc suphide). The Hobart Zinc Smelter is operated by an international group I hadn't heard of called Nyrstar, formed in 2007 by the merger of the smelting operations of Australian mining company Zinifex and Belgian materials technology company Umicore. There's a comprehensive and informative website here and an overview of the company's metal processing activities, including the Hobart large-scale smelter (which was founded in 1917!) at Nyrstar Metals Processing.

Fast Catamaran to MONA, Hobart: Nyrstar Hobart Zinc Smelter.

Having passed the smelting plant, we then speeded-up again, next passing a shipbuilding yard, also on our left. I realised we were passing the yard of Incat, world famous for high speed catamarans (there's a Wikipedia article here). In fact, the very catamaran I was aboard was built by Incat - their Hull 073. Only later did I find out that Incat's Hull 077 was Brooke Street Pier itself, where I'd boarded 'Mona Roma'. I'd also seen Incat's Hull 050, a wave-piercing catamaran now called 'Manannan', at Liverpool on various occasions (for instance, as mentioned in the post here).

Fast Catamaran to MONA, Hobart: Passing the Incat shipbuilding yard.

We completed our journey across the bay to MONA's landing stage, where we disembarked and climbed the 99 steps to the top of the hill and the entrance to MONA.

MONA (Museum of Old and New Art), Hobart.

The MONA website is here. Some of the advertising copy I'd read about 'MONA' was vaugely amusing - "Mona: A museum or something in Tasmania or somewhere. Catch the ferry. Drink beer. Eat cheese. Talk c**p about Art. You'll love it" (My asterisks). But when I arrived, the numerous staff, mainly young and black-attired, seemed to take it all rather seriously. There's a Wikipedia article here.

The entrance building on the top of the hill houses a large souvenir shop and cafe. There are three underground galleries at different levels below ground, chiselled out of rock. Access is by spiral stairs coiled around a circular lift.

What did I make of it? The subterranean galleries, carved out of living rock, I found stunning.

MONA (Museum of Old and New Art), Hobart: The subterranean galleries.

The perpetual ethereal music I found annoying. The exhibits, for me, varied from mildly interesting to irritating or juvenile. I was happy to return above ground where one or two items appealed. I liked Wim Delvoyes 'Flatbed Truck, Trailer and Cement Truck' but more for the technical skill displayed in assembling the artefact from intricately laser-cut steel plate.

MONA (Museum of Old and New Art), Hobart: Wim Delvoyes 'Flatbed Truck, Trailer and Cement Truck'

I would probably have liked his 'Church' exhibit too, but didn't get that far. I was intrigued to find two car parking spaces professionally labelled "Reserved GOD" and "Reserved GOD'S MISTRESS". It is perhaps to be expected that they apparently both drive electric cars, since electric charging points were provided.

MONA (Museum of Old and New Art), Hobart.

I was happy to return to Hobart on the 11.30 a.m. ferry and very much enjoyed the cruise back. I'm glad I've seen 'MONA' but didn't find it life-changing.

Next on the museum circuit was the Maritime Museum of Tasmania but, on the way, I met a retired lecturer, Nancy, who recognised my longyi (Burmese skirt) from her own time in Burma and we exchanged details before I continued to the museum.

The building occupied by the Maritime Museum of Tasmania dates from about 1900 and served as Hobart's central library until the 1960s. I found the museum staffed by very friendly volunteers and immediately felt 'at home'. They were hosting a travelling exhibition arranged by the Australian National Maritime Museum called 'War at Sea', describing the role of the Royal Australian Navy during World War I. This seemed particularly well-researched and I spent a long time here.

Maritime Museum of Tasmania: 'War at Sea' Travelling Exhibition - Royal Australian Navy uniforms of World War I.

In the ground floor galleries the local maritime history was covered. I found this equally absorbing. You can find out more about the museum at their website here.

Maritime Museum of Tasmania: Siebe Gorman Diving Pump.

Not far away was the third museum of the day - the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (their website is here). This is a large museum and I could have done with more time but they closed at 4.00 p.m. The main building is suitably grand in style, with a network of galleries on three floors covering a host of topics. This is supplemented by the adjacent Bond Store which, as its name suggests, is a converted warehouse with exhibits on four floors. I found all the museum sections very interesting: the art sections rather less so.

Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery: View from the Courtyard with the Bond store on the left and the Queen's Warehouse on the right.

I'd considered a late lunch at the Museum's Courtyard Cafe but ran out of time so had french fries and a cold drink back at the hotel. I'd had a great day but, inevitably, I was totally shattered by 5.00 p.m.

Related Posts on this Website

Next Post describing this trip.
All Burma-2017 Trip posts.
All Australia-2017 posts.

My Pictures

The Henry Jones Art Hotel, Hobart.
Hobart, Tasmania.
Catamaran to MOMA.
MONA, Hobart.
Fast catamaran back to Hobart.
Maritime Museum of Tasmania.
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.

[Links to pictures added 18-Aug-2017: Text amended, pictures added 11-Sep-2017]