Monday, 19 November 2012


* Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart Tasmania.

Sounds like an apt place for a curmudgeon to go to.

When in Hobart we spent a pleasant half day here.

Here's a link to explain what it is all about:


MONA is a pleasant half hour ferry trip from Hobart up the Derwent River.
It is on the site of the old Moorilla Estate winery (which still operates). It is on a peninsular of sandstone cliffs.

The museum was constructed by cutting into these cliffs creating a 10,000 M2 of floor space going down over 3 levels. There are no windows inside the museum so it is like a multi-level mausoleum which adds to its weird charm.

It cost over $80 mil to build and apparently has artwork valued at well over $100 mil.
The guy behind it all is David Walsh a controversial Australian said to have made his fortune by professional gambling (and not paying taxes). He's a bit of a nutter but without people like him we wouldn't have places like this.

The Old Girl and I love art galleries and museums both old and new and make visiting them a focal point of our travels. Of the modern ones our favourites are the Getty in L.A., the Guggenheim in New York, the Peggy Guggenheim in Venice, Musee d'Orsay in Paris, Te Papa in Wellington and now MONA.

The collection we saw ranges from modern traditional through bizarre to objectionable and obscene. Go there open-minded. All visitors are given an i-phone type device that lists and explains all pieces of art and installations near you. It allows comment and rating and the experience can be saved to your e-mail address. Clever.

I won't list what we saw and our favourites. Art is personal like jewellery and underwear.

I do implore you to check out MONA on-line and add it to your list of places to go to. People are now visiting Tasmania just to go to MONA (and it was only opened last year).

Up North Whangarei may finally be going ahead with the Hundertwasser gallery. This outstanding project will bring new visitors to Whangarei and I believe to New Zealand. It has been a long battle with silly old farts wanting something 'traditional' and, or a Maori experience instead. WTF! There's as much Maori experience as you want in Northland, good and bad and there is an excellent visitor centre at Waitangi. New Zealand has plenty of boring traditional buildings for some people to gawk at, what we lack is unique, challenging architecture.

Hundertwasser was an Austrian artist/ architect who designed beautiful buildings that decorate various town and cities in Europe.

Hunddertwasser settled in New Zealand before he died. His legacy to us is the outstanding Kawakawa toilets which is a mecca for visitors to the North

Kawakawa public toilets.
Hundertwasser said "Visual pollution is the worst sort of pollution because it destroys the soul"

Now (hopefully) we will soon see and outstanding Hunderstwasser influenced gallery in Whangarei's basin area (by the water). This will bring visitors to the North in the same way that people visit Bilbao, The Gettys, the various Guggenheims etc. We should be proud.

Model of the gallery)

Sunday, 18 November 2012


 The Old Girl and I are used to travelling. We have great memories of trips in New Zealand and overseas on business and on holiday. We have our favourites (France and Italy) that we go back to but are not averse to experimenting with lots of other locations.

Over the last few years there have been some changes.

  • My giving up my job put paid to the business travel (and a lot of discretionary income).
  • The Old Girl changed jobs from International marketing to Domestic marketing.
  • We had some personal tragedies.

This November we finally got around to having a trip away together. 9 days in Tasmania. The first holiday for 5 years.

Why Tasmania?

We have both, separately or together, travelled through Australia and have loved it. I used to do a lot of business there which took me to Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales on a very frequent basis. The Old Girl used to travel to Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales on business a lot too. We have holidayed a lot in those states as well but had never been to Tasmania.

My dad had talked about Tasmania years ago. I don't think he had ever been there but its possible that some ancestors had been. His father, my grandfather, was born in Victoria. His parents, my great grand parents, had settled there after moving from Nova Scotia. Their parents had gone to Nova Scotia from Torridon on the West coast of Scotland.

Loch Torridon. Looks a lot like the view out of my window in Whangarei Heads New Zealand. Weird genetic memory or what?

The family farmland in Victoria was named Tullamarine, now the site of Melbourne airport.



My only other knowledge of Tasmania was the 2006 massacre at Port Arthur near Hobart when a madman named Martin Bryant murdered 35 people and wounded 26 (men, women and children). I was in Adelaide on business at the time and remember watching it on TV News. I didn't know at the time but a friend of mine, Jason Winter a New Zealand winemaker was one of the victims, shot dead in front of his wife and child.

I had no desire to go to Tasmania for many years after that.

Now though, we just wanted to visit somewhere quiet and unassuming. Tasmania has that to offer in spades. It was like New Zealand was 30 years ago or more before we were hell-bent on catching up to the rest of the world.

Tasmania, although being part of a much bigger and busier country has reconciled itself to not having to emulate USA, Europe and the mainland. It just conducts day to day activities at a sensible pace.
New Zealand could learn a lot from this.
Sure it has its problems, but friendliness, courtesy, relaxation and quality of life was much more in evidence than I see here.

A friendly local

But like anywhere I guess it doesn't pay to upset them.

I just told him Whangarei Heads is just as beautiful as Freycinet Peninsular

OK. Now that I have captured you, to follow is a slide show of our trip.

Only 350 slides.......

........... just kidding. I'll save that for when you visit.

Here's a 'snapshot' of our trip:


Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia. Auckland/Melbourne/Launceston out
Hobart/Melbourne/Auckland back.
Unfortunately no direct flights and no really cheap ones either.

Rental car

Europcar. Really cheap - AUD180 for a week although it was a tiny Holden Barina that hardly went up hills. The roads in Tasmania are narrow though so a small car was adequate.


Convent in Launceston. Old and quaint which matches us. Was great for 3 nights.

The Old Girl on the balcony outside our room. Note that I kept well away in case a bolt of lightning struck her down

Cottages in Swansea for 3 nights. Really nice with plenty of room.

Serviced apartment in Hobart for 2 nights. Right in the centre so handy but a bit noisy.


Beaches and coast

Blow-hole at Bichenau

Wine Glass Bay at Freycinet

Spikey Bay at Swansea


Wombat (The Old Girl's favourite animal. She likes fat ugly things ....hey she says she likes me too!)

Tasmanian Devil


Cheeky parrot

Friendly wallaby

Beautifully coloured parrot

Tiger snake. This one was in an enclosure but you can find your own by walking in the brush and bush.

Albino peacock. Well this is Tasmania after all. I suppose the coloured ones were relocated to Flinders Island along with the aborigines.

Unusual sights

Carved trees at Legerwood.
A great story this. To commemorate family members killed on the battlefields in France after WW1, pine trees were planted, one for each of the fallen.
After 80 plus years the trees were rotting and the council decided to cut them down. The locals objected and so commissioned an artist to make sculptures on the still living stumps. He used a chainsaw!
The figures (dozens of them) represent things about the dead person - job, family, hobbies, interests etc. Each tree stump has a plaque telling of the soldier, where he died, what awards he won etc and there is a gravestone memorial at the foot of the tree.

That's all that google blogs will let me upload.

I might bore you later with the river cruises, canyon walks, Freycinet Peninsular walks and the outstanding MONA gallery at Hobart

Saturday, 17 November 2012


I've been trying to get Richard (of RBB) to come up North to visit for some time. Apart from it being great to see him and Shelley it would be a great way to return their wonderful hospitality which they afforded us in August.

Getting Richard to leave the comforts of his own home and the delights of Nouva Lazio is difficult in itself. He doesn't travel much. Admittedly when you eliminate the number of places that would want him to visit it doesn't leave much but still ...... we have a room for him.

In his older years the old guy is getting a bit fussy if not anal (there is a pun there you'll see when we discuss his toilet requirements).

We have a couple of guest rooms set up permanently.

This will be the view East from  Richard and Shelley's room.

View East to Mount Manaia
Mount Manaia is a striking mountain with an unusual rock formation. It is the first sight you get of Whangarei Heads when getting to the top of the Brynderwyns.

This will be their own bathroom, guaranteed to have no-one else using it (Richard can even have it to himself as Shelley can use the main bathroom at the other end of the house).

Knowing Richard's fear that the toilet may be short of tissue we will get in extra, 4-ply, heavy duty supplies.

Although there will be plenty of wine in the fridges, to allay any fears of shortages and for emergencies we can stock an extra bottle of Chardonnay or two in the most important room in the house.

Rest assured Richard, that if you get tired of our company, want some time alone to have a fiddle or a bow then there is your own little lounge area.

And a kitchen.

So come up and visit over the Christmas, New Year, January period if you can.
You could stay in the Auckland apartment to break up the trip or, get a cheap flight and I'll pick you up at the airport.

What about it?

Sunday, 4 November 2012


..... I've said to the Old Girl many times in the past never believing she would do so.
We are staying in Launceston Tasmania for three nights in an old convent. It is in large grounds that still houses a magnificent church (church bells waking us up this Sunday morning) and there are several 'churchy' buildings on the grounds.
The convent is magnificent, built in the early 1880's and has lots of old things in it (other than us) and has rooms with really high ceilings. This is counter-balanced with modern things like WiFi so I can write this blog in bed on the iPad.
The room we are in must have been inhabited ( pun intended) by a nun, maybe the Mother Superior a s it is large with a sweeping view of the town.
We are off for a river cruise today. It's good to see the Old Girl getting into holiday mode as she has been working pretty hard recently.
We are in Tasmania for 9 days enough time to see some of the East coast.


I like John Oliver. His retakes of the news are insightful and very funny. Have a look via the link below at his latest review of Facebook...