Friday 2 February, 2018
We are flying this morning from Sydney to Hobart on Jetstar, it’s easy and quick, just 90 minutes in total. The kids and I agree to leave the screens at home and instead spend our time playing cards, working Sudoku and word search puzzles. The airport in Hobart is super small and we are outside calling a cab within minutes. An Uber ride into town is a short 25-minutes to our weekend digs at The Grand Chancellor by the waterfront. We pop in to our room for just a sec to drop our bags and then head for lunch. The day seems to be a series of short events that are working like clockwork so far.
The reason we’ve come down for the weekend is that today is the qualifying round for the Tasmania State Lead Titles. It’s a first for all of us to visit Tassie and a new competition for my kids to participate in. The check-in starts in two hours…must get my little athletes some food to power them through the afternoon.
We find a little sandwich shop and custom order a couple of wraps. Walking around Hobart is straightforward as it is relatively small. The gym hosting this weekend’s event, Rock It Climbing Centre, is about a 10 minute walk from us.
We have a little wander after lunch as we have an hour or so to kill. It’s no surprise that the couple of blocks surrounding the gym is inundated with outdoor sporting shops. We work our way through all of them enjoying the camping gear and dreaming up another holiday. One store has an upstairs that has about 50 tents set up to experience fist hand. What a thrill for my two who can’t make up their minds which one is best. However, we all agree that we will need 5 new hammocks to complete our current set up.
After check-in, Fiona and James start warming up and stretching to ready themselves. The gym has 3 floors and is a little choppy in design but has made the most of the space. The competition walls start in the basement and pass by the ground and first floor with great views from balconies on each. The event is small with Fiona’s Youth C category only having four girls entering and James’s Youth D boys having only two. After several hours James places first and Fiona is tied for second.
We grab a quick meal at a small hole-in-the-wall Thai place not far from the gym. It feels good to eat a warm meal after such a long day with only quick bites up until now. Feeling satisfied we work our way back to our hotel and stumble upon Franko Street Food Market at Franklin Square. I wish I’d known this was on tonight as there are so many wonderful food trucks to choose from. Indonesian, Thai, Vietnamese, burgers, Mexican to name just a few. There’s a small stage set up at one end of the park as people lay on picnic blankets drinking wine and relaxing. I’m so glad to see this. We’ve been wondering why the streets in town are so empty. It’s like the town rolled up at 5 o’clock. I suppose most people don’t actually live in the CBD but it’s a little strange for a Friday night walking through the capital city and feeling completely alone.
We choose a couple of great dessert trucks for cinnamon sugar donuts dressed in chocolate sauce, a vanilla cupcake and a dark chocolate tart, so delish! The Thai food was satisfying but we were all hoping for something a bit more decadent when we finished. Mission accomplished!
Saturday 3 February, 2018
The air is noticeably cleaner than in Sydney. The temperature is 20 degrees celsius, with a cool breeze. The hills that surround Hobart are a dusty yellow-brown with green fir trees dotting them. When the sun shines on them it is glorious. What a difference from yesterday’s low-hanging dark clouds and misty rain.
I drop the kids off, after a healthy brekkie at Café Lola, to enter the isolation room before the final round of the comp begins. They have to wait in there for 90 minutes while the competition route is set for the day. I decide my time is better spent out in the sunshine exploring, as I’m forbidden to wait with them.
I look at the map and head for the Botanic Gardens, which appears close. After 20 minutes or so I’m up a hill and outside of Hobart Football Club’s grounds which looks like it’s being refurbished. Behind the stadium I find myself on a dirt and gravel path in complete wilderness, it’s so peaceful. In hindsight, flip flops were not the best choice of walking shoe today. What can I say, I brought a piece of Sydney with me to Tassie. I love my toes to be free.
For the entirety of the walk I pass plaques for fallen soldiers on a path fittingly called “Avenue of Soldiers.” I follow signs continually working towards the botanical gardens but never make it there. Time is too short and I need to turn back. I am happy that I managed some fresh air and physical activity, now I’m ready to cheer on my little people.
The road that winds its way back towards town passes by Government House, which looks like an old English estate, and is where the governor of Tasmania resides. It is a very regal looking Victorian building.
The competition concludes by early afternoon with James finishing in first place and Fiona in second for their respective categories. They are pleased with their results and hard work. After podium pictures we are all ready to get out of the gym and explore the city.
First, we stroll through Salamanca market perusing the shops and buying souvenirs. We are fortunate to chat up some wonderful vendors including a lovely couple who are authors and artists. It’s a very long street and we enjoy looking at each and every stall. It reminds me of Portobello Road or Pike Place Market. It’s earned the title of largest outdoor market in Australia and has around 300 stalls. Food vendors, soaps, candles, leather, opals, Tasmanian devil stuffed animals, clothing, etc. It’s all here, even wallaby burgers of all sorts were on one menu, but not for us.
I note that the trend here overwhelmingly seems to be outdoor clothing, coloured poncho’s and beanie caps. I’m not opposed to any of it but we feel like we are a world away from Sydney.
We end up at an amazing bakery for a late 3 o’clock lunch called Daci and Daci. A beautiful salad and a puffed pastry pizza. While we devour our meal we wander over to Van Dieman’s Land Creamery for olive oil, lemon and rosemary gelato for James and blackberry and pineapple sorbet for Fiona. We are sitting at the waterfront watching all of the people mill around. The sun is so warm and lovely mixed with a cool breeze. I feel like I could lounge on the bench we procured for the rest of the afternoon. That mid-afternoon slumber that is so easy to say yes to after a satisfying meal and a day of activity.
We notice that the Carnival Legend cruise ship is parked here today. Funnily, it was in Sydney two days ago while I was walking around Circular Quay for a doctor’s appointment. Our family will be cruising on it at the end of March this year…it seems to be following me around.
We decide to work up an appetite after having such a late lunch and choose to walk to dinner in North Hobart. It is a direct shot up Elizabeth Street from the waterfront. We happen by the Garden of Memories and the neon sign catches our eye. There’s another lit up sign behind but we can’t quite make out the lettering so we take a closer look. The sign reads “6 legs one journey,” how appropriate for the three of us traveling this weekend. We decide we need a selfie in front of the sign before we carry on. After we ham it up, we read the fine print on the sign and discover that it’s a very sweet garden dedicated to guide dogs. There is a fountain with a centre post covered with offset hooks to hang dog tags. Aw! We are now feeling emotional as we read aloud John and Max and Spot.
We have a reservation for 6pm at Pancho Villa Mexican restaurant which is very hip, in fact the whole neighbourhood is. It’s really lovely with many interesting looking shops and cafes. Now I know where all the cool kids are hanging out. No wonder the down town area has been so sleepy, everyone is in Noho.
Pancho Villa makes seriously good guac topped with pepitas and pomegranate seeds accompanied by salty homemade tortilla chips. We Bolingers are Mexican food snobs and this establishment has definitely passed the test. We play several hands of gin rummy as we savour our delicious meal.
Sunday 4 February, 2018
What a cool entrance to Mona (Museum of Old and New Art) taking the fabulous boat ride out here. The cool dance music, the graffiti, it just sets the tone so perfectly. We are excited for our day.
Starting our visit by trampolining with a view is the perfect way to get the kids interested. How fun and clever! I love the story of David Walsh and his family living here at the museum for some time and his daughter Grace missing her trampoline. Now it is a permanent display for everyone to enjoy. The story and the bouncing makes us all smile. In a way it opens our minds to finding fun in all that we see today.
I love the setting and grounds on the peninsula, rusted metal and stone against the green and brown natural landscape. Again we are so lucky with the weather, it is sunny with a cool breeze while the bluest of skies makes for a very peaceful outing.
This is probably the coolest museum on the planet. Modern artwork that is pleasing to see, hear and touch. It affects you on so many levels and some pieces really make us smile and even laugh. So many good discussions we ripped into as a result. I think I’ll head to the gift shop for an art book…something I have never done.
The surrounds of the building include small huts for wood fired pizza, espresso and a bar. There is a sun filled grassy hillside equipped with pink bean bags and small crate tables with stripy umbrellas for shade to lounge under, have a nibble and watch concerts. The breeze off of the river Derwent is divine as is the sunshine so the kids frolic on some swings while I sit and bask in this glorious moment. Tasmania will forever now make me envision great food and the savouring of time spent embracing life.
We travel back to Hobart at 3pm on the Mona Roma again. James takes a sheep seat and Fiona and I enjoy the view from the high bar stools at the back of the boat.
We all feel like stopping at Mawson’s Hut, a museum housed in a replica of the Australian expedition hut in Antarctica. I forgot about Tasmania’s position for south pole exploration and the history that remains here. The volunteers at the foundation are fountains of information and we all feel like we’ve learnt a great deal in the half hour spent at this small home. I particularly loved the many stories of the dogs and the conditions at the time. It’s amazing to me that the hut had to be kept about freezing but not above 45f or 4c. I wonder if the men felt warm upon returning from their outings? Did 45f feel cosy? It’s all relative isn’t it? Amazing too that 18 men lived in this way, in small quarters for a good year together. If in Hobart, I really recommend it, it was definitely worth the $12 entrance fee which goes toward maintenance of the real Mawson’s Hut at Cape Denison which still stands today.
I have to mention before I finish just how much I love small airports! How nice is it to roll up an hour before a flight, walk right through security and have only 5 gates to choose from? It is so refreshing to not stress as we usually do before most departures. On the way to the airport our driver told us that the population of Tasmania is around 500,000 and 230,000 of those reside in Hobart. It is a small island state with immense beauty and mild climate. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay and next time will aim to take in some of the wonderful hiking that surrounds us…until then.