I am the original 'Uneasy Rider' .. not especially blessed with much natural motorcycling talent, nor am I a particularly courageous motorcycle rider.
Nevertheless I went 'Right Way Round' New Zealand (at least twice) followed by a wonderful ride around Australia.

Then it was up to southeast Asia, around Indo-China, across southern Central Asia to the Middle East, Asia Minor .. and finally into Europe.

Right Way Round - all the way home .. from New Zealand to England, 2-up on a Honda Transalp.

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PROGRESS SO FAR - Distance covered across Western Europe: 6,411 km [3,984 miles] - as at Thursday, October-22nd, 2015

Monday, 14 March 2011

A Little Bit of Hobart .. and Around the Coast of Van Diemen's Land

Tuesday, March-8th

A Visit to Mona – THE Museum of Old and New Art

I'm no connoisseur of fine art - or any sort of art for that matter - so my visit to Hobart's Mona Museum on Tuesday-8th proceeded with an open mind.

We got there by way of a 30-minute fast catamaran ferry ride, which departed from one of the city's main wharfs at 12 noon ..

.. under a very overcast sky that threatened rain at any moment.

Despite the stormy outlook, the ambient temperature was a clammy 28ºC [82ºF].

This is the view back to Hobart's suburbia from the Mona's grounds. Panorama - click here to enlarge.

The architecture of the museum is itself quite spectacular, built into the sandstone cliff on three underground levels.

Inside, on display, is an extraordinary exposition of shock art, featuring quite a bit of sex and violence, which isn't to everyone's taste, of course .. including mine, so I discovered on this visit. I mean, I do draw the line at castration, bestiality, defecation .. and often, far too much blood and gore.

Nevertheless, I was still blown away by the sheer diversity on offer; from interactive displays, traditional art, wall-to-wall videos .. through to Egyptian artefacts and contemporary pieces, all brought together by millionaire art collector David Walsh to create an amazing visual and sensual experience. It's quite astonishing. Many would call it shocking. Too shocking .. perhaps.

Going down in the main lift-elevator.

The free intelligent/interactive ipod devices handed-out to every visitor provides you with a wealth of information about each piece in the collection right at your fingertips.

Hundreds - maybe thousands (I didn't count) of individual paintings here, combine to create this wave effect. Very clever!

Egyptology is a major theme throughout.



Priceless ancient artefacts everywhere

Did I say David Walsh is a millionaire?

Make that a billionaire, for sure!

Then you stumble upon monstrous displays, like this line of spirographic rotating machines ..

.. that create random symmetrical and isometric patterns.

And what have we here?

At first view .. it's just a plain rock mass BUT ..

.. inside there are infinity mirrors that face and reflect the image of the opposite mirror giving the illusion of endless depth ..

.. and can cause some people to feel unstable.

and WTF's this 3-screen video display all about?

Very weird ..

Click the above play arrow .. and see a sample for yourself

A glass encased monkey [I think] skeleton sat on an oak chair

Coffee bags filled with coal, with a backdrop of hanging ropes .. is not my idea of art. I just don't get it.

A library .. full of fake white books? What am I missing here?

'tis all lost on me!

Defacation machines, that mechanically reproduce your daily bowel functions. Smells like it too!

A 'fat' car. Entirely driveable .. IF you've got the nerve to take it out on the streets.

And real-life latex mouldings of ladies fannies .. strung-out on display right down the entire length of one wall.

Scores and scores of 'em!

Marvelous girls these Tasmanians. Just think .. they made the effort to come all this way down to Hobart .. just to show us boys the shapes and sizes of their fannies.

Wonderful people!

Which reminded me ..

.. on the way back, returning to the city wharf - it must be pancakes tonight for tea, I fancy.

Well, it is Shrove Tuesday after all. Really! (go check your calendar)

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Wednesday-9th

We left our lodgings in the city centre area shortly after breakfast .. and headed west for the summit of Mount Wellington. We wanted to capture a high point vista over Hobart ..

.. but alas, the top of the mount was shrouded in cloud and mist.

This was the best shot I could get; way down in suburbs.

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We then headed east for around 100 km [63 mi] for the Tasman Peninsular, and the former convict settlement of Port Arthur in particular; one of Australia's most significant heritage areas.

Arriving during the early afternoon - and decided to start our tour the following day, Thu-10th; we then secured our lodgings in the nearby township of Nubeena.

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Thursday-10th

09:30 am .. and we're back at the Visitors' Centre at Port Arthur.

Bold as brass 'Cornish' [sic] pasties on sale in the Centre's restaurant. We had a couple for breakfast. Bloody carrot in the filling too?! .. grrrrrrr!

I just had to inform the counter staff that, on 22nd February this year (2011), the European Commission gave Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status to the world famous Cornish Pasty, and from that date, only pasties made in Cornwall and following the traditional recipe - which means no carrot within the ingredients whatsoever! - can be called proper ‘Cornish pasties’.

I was, of course, then looked upon in a quite bewildered way .. as if I was mad. The counter girl serving me probably had no idea where Cornwall is in the world, but she chuckled in sympathetic acknowledgement nevertheless.

The 22nd February 2011: was not a good day for pasty lovers who live in Devonshire, England .. which reminds me, I really must get in touch with Peter Mallon [a Devonian from Exeter, Devon] sometime soon!

We start our mostly self-guided tour of the grounds on foot ..

.. and straightaway spotted a little short-beaked Echidna (also known as the Spiny Anteater because of its diet of mostly ants and termites), it was busily shoving his snout into the kerbside moss looking for its own mid-morning snack. Fearless little blighter, so his was .. just completely ignored us with his pre-occupation of literally finding his grub(s).

The Penal Settlement at Port Arthur is an interesting site with so many stories to tell. It generates a lot of thought about past lives of those that were on the wrong side of the law.... for whatever reason, often for stealing little more than a silk handkerchief.

"A machine for grinding rogues into honest men."

Here's a pic [above] of the recently refurbished 'Separate Prison', which was originally built at Port Arthur in 1850. Cruciform-shaped, each of the four wings comprised a central corridor flanked by rows of solitary confinement cells. Separated by thick sandstone walls, it was hoped that the convicts would benefit from contemplative silence and separation.

I practise my sermon to the undesirables

The admission price includes a harbour cruise to the cemetery on the Isle of the Dead

Like every cemetery, there's a life story under every headstone .. but maybe here more than most.

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Friday-11th

Panorama - click here to enlarge

Making our way north from the Port Arthur area, the above picture just about sums-up the weather conditions we experienced in and around the Tasman Peninsula. Benign really; neither hot nor cool, not sunny and never completely overcast. It hardly rained - maybe only a bit overnight - and there was hardly a breath of wind apparent throughout our stay on this remote finger of land.

Onwards and northwards up the A3 Highway. The weather improves significantly along the way.

Remarkably good coastal seascapes thrown into the bargain as we ride northwards up the west side of Great Oyster Bay [Freycinet Peninsula on the horizon in the background] ..

.. often with a mix of glorious countryside.

We stopped at Coles Bay on the coast of Freycinet Peninsula .. and looked hard for some accommodation, as the whole area is quite idyllic.

But there was nothing around, not even a spare pitch for our tent. Coles Bay was full .. "NO VACANCY"

So we rocked into Bicheno township instead, just 38 km [24 mi] up the road.

Walking back to our motel along the Bicheno Bay seashore at dusk, after a superb steak in the local pub-come-bottleshop (off licence) .. with our typical night-cap of a cask of decent wine in hand.

What a great day it's been :-) :-)

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Saturday-12th

You can't really travel up the top half of the east coast of Tasmania, so rumour has it, without making the short inland excursion up the twisty Elephant Pass for a couple of plates-full of crêpes at the Mount Elephant Pancake Parlour .. and especially as we never had pancakes for tea on Tuesday evening .. :-( .. we did just that: but skipped the chef's "Crêpe du Jour" which was a combo of jellied eels and smoked mackerel [whiff!] - we instead ordered two ham, cheese & asparagus ones .. followed by a couple of traditional lemon & sugar, with a dollop of cream and ice-cream. Yummy.

[a montage by me]

The ride back down to the coast-hugging Tasman Hwy (A3) via the St Marys Pass was equally as good as the ride up to the Pancake Parlour.

From the rest of the day's ride there were plenty of road signs like this one .. :-)

Many stretches of roads around TAS, particularly the mountainous regions, are some of the best you'll find anywhere in the world ..

.. and quite challenging for any motorcyclist.

Great scenery too, as we make our way to Launceston (Tasmania's second largest city) for the evening.

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We left Launceston - pronounced " Lawn-sess-t'n" down here - and yunno, I just couldn't convince the locals that the proper-job pronunciation is "lahnzdun" ..

.. anyway, as I wozza sayin' - we left "Lonny" (maybe even "Launy") in typical aussie-speak, just before 10:00am to make the comparatively short ride of 170 km [106 mi] - around two-and-a-bit hours in the saddle - to Cradle Mountain, which one of the principal tourist sites on Tassie, and is located about 120 km [75 mi] soutwest from the ferry port in Devonport. Cradle Mtn btw, is 1,545 m [5,069 ft] above sea level.

The ride into and through the cloud base involved some great scenery. Picture postcard stuff.

Panorama - click on the picture for full view

The glacially formed Dove Lake, nestling at the foot of Cradle Mtn.

A worthwhile excursion, made even better as we stopped-over in the resort at the 'up market' (for us) Cradle Mountain Château, the reservation for which we secured on-line at more than a 50% discount from the normal price through the leading worldwide hotel reservations agency Booking.com - It can be sooooo easy arranging accommodation this way. Gotta luv my netbook!

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That night, at the posh-place, Le Château, the BIGGEST hairy-arsed spider I've seen, for a very long time – well, since last year in Oz, actually! – crawled across our bedroom ceiling/wall coving.

Christ, I bloody hate spiders.

It was soon dispatched, however, from a glass tumbler, quite humanely to the outside world, via the french door. Bastard!

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Monday-14th

A high pressure system drifted across Tasmania overnight, which in turn means clear blue skies for our departure from Cradle Mountain this morning, Monday-14th.

Perfect motorcycling conditions ..

.. through wonderful northern Tasmania as we make our way up to Devonport to catch our ferry back to the mainland tonight that leaves for Port Melbourne at 21:00 hrs.

Panorama - click on the picture for full view.

As we have a whole afternoon in which to do very little except mosey around, we decide to go beachside at nearby Port Sorell, which is no more than about 18 km [11 mi] from the ferry terminal. We head straight for Freers Beach where .. Ellen decides

.. to do a bit of beach-combing down by the estuary.

Before we settle for the afternoon on Hawley Beach, which is where I'm tapping-out this blog entry right now. As you can see, my dongle is intact .. and still working well .. ;-)

And remember, Scooby doo ..

.. a-tooda-looda!

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And so after riding 1,736 km [1,079 mi] from this very spot ten days ago, we're about to embark on The Spirit of Tasmania II a second time for our return passage back to the mainland of Oz.

What do I think of Tasmania? Well, for a Cornishman like me, to see place names like: "Cornwall" - "Devonport" – "Railton" – "Carrick" - "the Tamar Valley" - "Falmouth"- "Launceston" (a quintessentially Cornish town, once the county's capital town) - makes me feel very at home indeed.

In short, Tassie has it all. A great climate, very similar to the Westcountry of England; wonderful countryside, mountains, good sandy surfing beaches, some history and culture, superb motocycling roads that equal anything, anywhere else in the world; reasonably light traffic away from the major cities and townships .. and not too many cops around! Yep, it's all there on the The Apple Isle. They've got the lot.

About the same size in area as the Republic of Ireland (Eire)*, I think I could really settle and live on Australia's best kept secret!

* Tasmania = 68,401 square kilometres [26,410 sq mi] - Republic of Ireland (Éire) = 70,273 square kilometres [27,133 sq mi]

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Click here for Ellen's account of the Tasmania tour

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Tasmania - Tour Map
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