In what seemed no time at all the end of the school term loomed and it would soon be time to leave Hobart.
School itself was a positive experience for the kids. They made friends and were involved in a number of activities. Ben was appointed House Captain and Reardon was a School Council Representative as well as a Mediator. They enjoyed being selected by their peers for these roles and wearing their badges to school.
There always seemed to be something happening, such as sporting competitions, incursions and excursions. In fact, I was lucky enough to be able to tag along with the boys one day when they got to go on board the replica of The Endeavour (Captain Cook’s ship). This was great.
We had crossed paths with the ship in a couple of locations and I had wanted to have a look but hadn’t been able to until then. There were a number of volunteers on board that took the class around the ship explaining various bits and pieces. My favourite part was listening to an old-timer explaining how he had been on a number of ‘expeditions’ and even got to sail on The Endeavour to Greenwich (UK) from where it had originally set sail in 1768. I will never forget the look on his face as he reminised and told the story, continuing even as the kids lost interest and wandered off to look at other things.
The showgrounds always had something going on, from weekly markets to dog and poultry shows, to soccer games on the main arena. Gradually, the number of campers coming in dropped off as the weather got cooler. It was no coincidence then that our caretaking rounds got quicker. It went from a couple of hours when the camping area and overflow were full, to half an hour or less when the numbers dropped to around 20 or so vans. Someone always wanted a chat!
One weekend afternoon was spent exploring Kangaroo Bluff Battery. This is a pentagonal shaped battery which was completed in 1884 with the intention (along with a number of other batteries) to protect Hobart from invasion. The site is open daily and is free. Lots of information is scattered throughout the battery about its history, design and the type of guns used. You can still walk around where the old moat was. Not only does it also provide yet more great views of Mt Wellington but it’s not a bad place to do a Cher impersonation either!
Before even getting to Tasmania we had heard about MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) in Hobart. Mainly we had heard that people had found some of the art confronting – particularly the wall of ‘lady bits’. We went along with an open mind had a good look around but Paul and I would mostly stand there scratching our heads saying, “I don’t get it”.
The building itself is amazing, with a large portion actually being underground. Entry is free to Tasmanian residents or $20 per adult, if not. Upon arrival you are given an iTouch which provides information about the art you are near and also gives you the opportunity to rate each piece. Your interaction is recorded and if desired can be emailed to yourself. The map of the museum clearly marked areas that may not be suitable for children, so Paul and I played tag in these sections. Unfortunately the wall of lady bits was not open when we were there but we got to see plenty of other ‘interesting’ stuff such as x-rays of people making love, tattooed pigskin, hand carved car tyres, light bulbs that flash in time with your heart beat and a video of someone squeezing a pimple!
The piece de resistance for the kids though, was the ‘poo machine’. Yep! Something called a cloaca, a machine that imitates the digestive system and produces poo. Unfortunately we didn’t make it to the “excretion” part that day!
If you are an art lover then this place is a must see. There are a number of interactive things to do and the kids seemed to enjoy themselves, we just couldn’t answer their questions when they would ask, “what’s that”.
A place to visit for its novelty factor alone, really.
Unfortunately it was raining when we visited The Hobart Botanical Gardens so we spent a lot of our here time running for cover. The gardens are spread over 14 hectares and there are lots of sections to explore, including Peter Cundall’s Vegie Garden which has featured on the ABC’s show Gardening Australia. The gardens are beautiful and a full day could easily be spent here. If our day was clearer it would have been a top spot for a picnic.
We knew we were unlikely to get to visit Southwest National Park and so opted for a day trip just north of the park to Strathgordon. This involved a beautiful drive west from Mt Field National Park along Gordon River Road. The road ends at The Gordon Dam. This is a huge, arched dam constructed at the intersection of The Gordon and Serpentine Rivers, creating Lake Gordon. Near the dam is an underground hydroelectric station. You are able to walk across the dam and if that isn’t dare devilish enough for you then you can even experience, at 140metres, Australia’s longest vertical abseil.
Although realising there was so much more to do in the south of Tasmania we were very happy with what we had seen during our time there. Now it was time to pack up (groan) and start our adventure up the east coast. A region that we had heard many people rave about and were now looking foward to experiencing ourselves.