Monday, February 17, 2014



executive summary by darmansjah

It’s hard to picture the wholesome state spitting out a gambling, school-dropout, and contrarian oddball like David Walsh. But that’s the beauty of Tasmania, chiefly golden with an occasional edgy kick in the form of folks like Walsh. Despite making bank through professional gambling and acquiring status as Australia’s largest private art collector, Walsh still has the altruistic Tassie blood running in his vein. And thanks to that, people from all over the world can enjoy his massive collection of quirky, provocative and some say borderline offensive artwork housed at
the Museum of Old and New Art – or MONA (651-655 Main road Berriedale). Superbly curated and housed in an underground labyrinth of a winery (with a tennis lawn serving as entrance), the artwork here runs the gamut from ancient Egyptian tombs to interactive and experiental installations such as the ‘poo machine’. As icing, every visitor receives and iPod Touch which not only registers nearby displays via wifi as you meander around and emails you your journey, but also lets you like (or hate) artworks via an inbuilt application.

Personally I find the term cruise extremely misleading at Pennicott Wilderness Journey’s Tasman Island Cruise (Dock Head Building, Franklin Wharf Hobart). My day ride out on their state-of-the-art, 40-plus-footer RIB (rigid inflatable boat – a super sonic marine vessel) was more a scene out of Deadliest Catch on Discovery Channel than Titanic. I’m taking two expertly-equipped and informative crew and a gaggle of Gortex-suited thrill seeking customers contained on a daredevil boat, pounding through four-metre swells at lightning speed, rollercoaster style. Exhilarating couldn’t even begin to describe the experience. The reward? Moving close-ups of seals playing and hunting, giant albatrosses gliding by the dozens, azure waves whitewashing up legendary cliffs and rock climbing sites like the Candle Stick.

On the note of deceptively-named thrills, my ride with Mount Wellington Descent (tour departs from Booke Street Pier, Franklin Wharf Hobart) immediately comes to mind. The adventure appeared rather innocent on its website. You take a leisurely bus ride to the pinnacle of Mount Wellington and spend a couple of leisurely hours cycling down the giant mound while soaking in the city’s sight. As with most things in Tasmania, the name isn’t always quiet what it seems. Sure, the whole gig about a lazy 20-minute bus ride up the mountain was accurate; but lady Tassie’s precarious temper couldn’t possibly leave the experience as such. While trembling my cotton socks off, I discovered that the term ‘cycling’ in Tassie is pretty much exchangeable with ‘serious mountain biking’. Don’t be frightened by that though. I have never rode a mountain bike before this, nor embarked on any cycling adventures beyond circling the well-paved East Coast Park of Singapore; and I’m happy to report that (not only survived but) really enjoyed the ride – despite the unexpected cold and embarrassing tumble off the dirt trail. Beyond descending the mountain, which works up quite a sweat, power peddling through the city’s street and gardens was itself a breathtaking journey.Another cool perspective of the city I got was from sea kayaking with Hobart Paddle. The two-hour tour involved some ducking under piers, weaving through big-boy boats in picturesque harbours and grabbing your take away parcel of fish and chips from a fishing trawler. Beyond that, all that required of you is listening ear to the guide’s insider tales of surrounding architure, Tassie’s rich history and entertaining boat trivia. Oh, and a hearty appetite to polish off the generous, complimentary lunch too.


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