Sole Sister

Cruising in the single lane

Build MONA, they will come

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TASSIE, the Apple Isle? No way!

In the grand tradition of “build it, they will come” Tasmania is enjoying a MONA (Museum of Old and New Art)-led surge in tourism popularity which has seen the state leap into international rankings as a destination. The latest and greatest confirmation of this comes from Hobart being named in Lonely Planet’s 2013 top ten city destinations in the world. According to Lonely Planet, Hobart’s allure has always been its natural beauty “… but the arrival of the world-class MONA museum has the waters rippling, hip tourists flocking and Hobart rousing from its slumber”.

MONA opened its doors in January 2011 and last year won the 2012 Australian Tourism Award for best new development. It is Tasmania’s single-most-visited attraction and in its first 18 months drew 600,000 visitors. A friend and I added to that number last month joining the ranks of the gob-smacked, amazed and exhilarated. In keeping with its reputation for being “different” MONA is built underground. Sixty thousand tonnes of earth and sandstone were removed before the building could begin and lining the interior walls took 3 kilometres of rock sawing, 1.5 kilometres of drilling for rock bolts to maintain the rock face and 5500 cubic metres of concrete to fill the ensuing hole.
MONA sits on a promontory jutting into the Derwent River, 30-minutes ride from Hobart’s famous harbour area in a camouflage-patterned trimaran ferry from which patrons can enjoy the passing riparian scenery sipping a flat white from the well appointed coffee shop-lounge. MONA’s quirky entrance is reminiscent of a fun parlour’s hall of mirrors. The current exhibition – not for the faint-hearted – features works by Belgian artist Wim Delvoye, including X-rays of people having sex, a close-up movie of a pimple being squeezed, a gothic concrete truck, tattooed pig skins and a tattooed man, Tim Steiner, who has been sold as a piece of art.

While many mainland and international tourists go to Tasmania specifically to see MONA, the island’s rapidly growing reputation for fine food and wine, especially since The Gourmet Farmer TV series on SBS, adds pulling power when combined with Hobart’s traditional charms of  a vibrant, historic port, outstanding colonial architecture and the famous Saturday Salamanca Market. Added to this are the natural heritage of treasures likes the Freycinet Peninsula, the majestic coastlines of the Tasman Peninsula and Bruny Island, and pristine environments like the Tarkine preserved (so far) by the efforts of dedicated “greenies”. I was particularly impressed by the respect shown by Hobartians to their colonial heritage and the proactive TLC injected into saving old buildings. Coming from a city where the penchant seems more for “knockin’ ‘em down” than preserving, I was jealous!

IMG_2876Hall of mirrors? No, it the entrance to MONA reflecting parts of the museum and mountains behind Hobart.

IMG_2874MONA – enter at your own risk (of being shocked and exhilarated).

IMG_2877The museum is impressively situated on a promontory jutting into the Derwent River.

IMG_2872Rock bolts maintain the rock face of this underground repository of the audacious.

IMG_2870Belgian artist Wim Delvoye’s concrete truck, the least contentious of his works.

IMG_2867Sit back and relax with your latte as you cruise up the Derwent on the camouflage-painted MONA ROMA ferry.

IMG_2736Hobart’s famous Salamanca Market is the place to find examples of gourmet Tassie fare, such as Bruny Island cheese. 

IMG_2738Pizza made on the spot is the perfect snack on a cold winter’s day visit to Salamanca Market.

IMG_2731The vegetable-growing skills of Hmong refugees add colour at the Salamanca markets.

IMG_2914Hobart’s historic waterfront has long been a tourist drawcard.

IMG_2858How to maintain a city’s essence…treasure its heritage.

IMG_2860It will be interesting to see the finished product.

IMG_2804Horseshoe Bay, Freycinet Peninsula…named as one of Australia’s top five beaches by Channel Nine’s Getaway Program.


Author: technanna

I grew up in western Queensland, worked as a newspaper and television journalist, public relations and public affairs officer and freelance correspondent in Australia, the UK, Japan and Saudi Arabia. I have three grown children and two grandchildren. I am retired, but work to keep the brain and body fit, and to stay marginally in touch in our ever-changing technological environment.

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