I hadn’t planned to start my day this way, with a slight panic attack. In the early hours of the morning, I decided that with time to kill before I headed off to explore MONA, I would take a drive up to Mt Wellington, just for the sake of it.
The windy drive up the mountain was nice – it was quiet with little traffic on the roads and it looks as thought it was dawning a beautiful day. I kept driving with the scenery changing slightly as I would my way up to the summit when I made the mistake of looking out my driver’s side window. It was only a brief moment, but what I saw started my heart fluttering.
Looking out the window again quickly, it was clear what had startled me. Clouds. And I was driving up through them and above them. It was the strangest feeling – a weird kind of ‘I’ve lost all control’ feeling. I’ve flown hundreds of times now and I see clouds out the window all the time, but I’ve never driven up into the sky! I started to panic and had to pull over to the side of the road for a moment, reassuring myself to continue the drive to the top. It was weird, but it was ok. You just weren’t used to it. Keep going. Something in my head told me that if you kept going, it was going to be worth it. So I kept driving looking only at the road ahead and not out my window. And I arrived safely to the top of the mountain.
I can’t even describe the absolutely beautiful view that awaited me at the top. But I can describe the cold – bloody freezing. The thermometer in the car read 6 degrees, which made me think it would be warmer when I left the comfort of the car, but I guess being 1,269 metres above sea level and with a smattering of ice covering the ground, I should have known it would feel colder. My teeth were chattering and my hands were numb as I tried to capture the wonder of what I was seeing with my camera. Just as well I had thought to pack my beanie at the last minute!
Others had the same idea as I did, so I wasn’t alone on the top of the mountain, but it certainly felt like I was on top of the world.
I wasn’t sure how I was going to top this, but the day had only just begun, so I headed back to town to swap my car for a boat and check out the Museum of Old and New Art.
I like a bit of art and everyone had been raving about MONA since its construction in 2011 so I booked myself a Poshpit ticket on the Mona Roma and off I went. The Poshpit is a separate section of the Mona Roma boat. You pay a little extra, but you get priority boarding and disembarkation, yummy little canapes (savoury on the way, sweet on the way back) and complimentary drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) for your 30 minute journey.
MONA is the brainchild of David Walsh, a professional art collector, gambler and businessman. Yes, that’s right – gambler. He made his fortune developing a gambling system used to bet on horses and other sports, which led to quite a row with the Australian Taxation Office back in 2012. He was requested to pay $37 million in taxes from the profits of his gambling system. The issue was sorted out in a secret deal and MONA, a world class tourism draw-card, has remained open.
The art in MONA is not going to be to everyone’s liking, but then that’s the point of art really – to generate discussion. And there are some pieces which you may want to hide from your children’s eyes or cleverly mislabel as ‘flowers’ – if you’ve been, you’ll know which piece this refers to and if you haven’t, well here’s a spoiler….
MONA is a day trip. A destination. You get there by boat, by car, by bus or by helicopter (should that be the way you roll) and once you are there, not only can you entertain yourself at the museum, but you can stroll around the grounds taking in the sculptures and the views, set yourself up for a wine-tasting, have a picnic or grab something to eat from one of the restaurants. Sometimes there’s even music or movies! And if you don’t think one day is enough, you can stay the night. So if the art doesn’t entertain you, something will.
MONA was awesome, but the day wasn’t over yet. I took a walk around the historic precinct that I was staying in, wandering the streets of gorgeous old sandstone homes and businesses. Battery Point is one of Hobart’s oldest and historic areas and it was named after the battery of guns that was established on the point back in 1818 as part of Hobart’s coastal defences.
Rumour has it that Hollywood actor Errol Flynn was born here in 1909 at Queen Alexandra Hospital. Andrew Ingliss Clark, the principal architect of the Australian Constitution also lived here at Rosebank Cottage.