Hello, Tasmania!

Sunday, 05-10-2014. Day 46.

Time Trouble, Confronting Art

We suffered a moment of moderate confusion this morning. As happens every morningwhen I wake up, like millions of people around the world, I look at my phone—typically to check the time. It was 6:30 a.m. Usually I wake earlier, but no problem. Sometimes it's nice to sleep in, besides we didn't have anything to do today but catch a plane and do a little FaceTime with some friends back home (you never know when your next reliable wi-fi is going to come along) at 8:00 a.m. our time (3:00 p.m. Saturday afternoon their time).

Samantha woke shortly after me and asked what time it was.  I told her almost 7:00 a.m. She told me then we screwed up the time conversion, because it was 1:00 p.m. inLos Angeles. It had been awhile since we'd made such a mistake, so I looked at my watch, because that's what people do when they can't believe the time data given to them. The watch said it was just before 6:00 a.m. What? At first I thought my watch had stopped. Then Samantha told me that the world clock on her phone was giving her all sorts of strange results. So I checked mine, and got similar strange results. Then I remembered it was recently spring in the southern hemisphere, and maybe, just maybe ...

So I did a quick bit of Googling, and learned that in Australia (most of Australia, anyway) Daylight Savings Time takes effect at 2:00 a.m. on the first Sunday on October. And that just happened to be today.

This meant that we had one less hour to pack up before we had to get a taxi to the airport to catch our flight to Hobart, but we're getting pretty good at this packing business. So we re-scheduled the FaceTime appointment and got all the packing done so quickly that the girls had one last jump on the trampoline.

trampoline-melbourne.jpg

Oh, and in the hurried process, I busted another pair of sunglasses.

What do you expect for 6,000 CLP?

What do you expect for 6,000 CLP?

The flight to Tasmania was only an hour, so for seasoned air travelers like us, it felt like it was over as soon as it started. We'd considered taking the Spirit of Tasmania [link] across the Bass Strait, but flying was actually cheaper and the ferry took 12 hours.

After we deplaned, the girls were greeted by the produce-sniffing dog (a cute beagle in a vest) who proceeded to sniff every bag as it came through the baggage claim door on the carousel. We got to watch him work for a long time, because our our third bag was the last one off the line — things were a little tense for a few moments.

We picked up our rental car, a Hyundai i20 (a supermini, sort of like a small version of the Accent), a car so devoid of  personality we couldn't even bring ourselves to name it, and zipped off to our hotel.

Our Tasmanian coach.

Our Tasmanian coach.

After we checked in to the hotel and got our bearings, we still had a lot of daylight to go exploring (it was Daylight Savings Time, after all). We drove over to check out Cascade Brewery, Australia's oldest brewery, but it was closed up tight. So instead, we drove to the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), pet project of Tasmanian gambler millionaire philanthropist David Walsh. It's a groovy, confrontational (more on that in a moment) contemporary museum and about the last thing I expected to find in Tasmania, but I was glad we did.

You start the tour at the bottom of four levels, and you can either take a science-fictiony glass elevator or walk down a circular staircase to the beginning. When you check in, you're handed an iPhone on a lanyard that has a red O on it (they call it the o), which is your tour guide. None of the exhibits are labelled, so when you're in front  of an exhibit that you want to learn about, you press the button on the o to get all manner of information about what you're looking at.

As you might expect, MONA has a lot of contemporary art installations, including Cloaca Professional by William Devolye, a functioning mechanical replica of the human digestive system. It's fed twice a day and excretes (yes, indeed it does) once a day. We were lucky enough to be there when it was being fed. We watched as the guide cut up a burrito and some other bits of food and dropped them into the eating end of Cloaca as he discussed what would be happening as the food passed through the system (and it's pretty much the same thing that happens to food that passes through your system). He even showed us what the poop looks like when it came out of the business end of Cloaca because it was just sitting there, on a petri dish. And yes, the room really smelled bad.

cloaca-professional-mona.jpg

Some of the other exhibits at MONA were pretty interesting, as well:

  • A room where the lights turn on and off every five seconds
  • bit.fall, sheets of cascading, timed water displaying random words from Internet news sites
  • Queen: A Portrait of Madonna,  a giant wall of 30 televisions stacked up Hollywood Squares style in a sound-dampening room, each featuring a different person all singing  Madonna songs a cappella, in unison
  • Tell Me a Story, the results of one artist's social experiment of wearing a sign that said "Tell Me a Story, I'll Pay You $1" in downtown Los Angeles
  • Untitled, a bowl filled with water, two goldfish (living) and a chef's knife, sitting on a chair and illuminated by an overhead light
46-05.jpg

One of the best exhibits was also Untitled, but carried the descriptive nickname of White Library (artist Wifredo Prieto, apparently named it ' '), which was an entire room filled with blank books all bound in stark white covers.

' '

' '

Confronting Art

There are certain moments in parenting when you're struck speechless trying to explain something confrontational to your children. When you walk up the steps and came face to face with a seemingly endless row of plaster-cast vaginas hanging on the wall, well, let me tell you, that's one of those moments. And as a bonus, they sell fragrant soap (lavender! jasmine! honeysuckle!) reproductions in the gift shop, so we got to revisit this experience on our way out of the museum.

In addition to the contemporary art, there are a few old art pieces (the old in Old and New Art), like a pair of Egyptian sarcophagi and the Death Room, a dark room with stepping stones across a water that lead to a mummy. Only two people at a time are allowed in the exhibit, and the line was long, so we didn't see this one.

It's a really cool museum, and it's right next to a winery, so that's another bonus. The cafe was a bit pricey, though, so we headed back to Hobart for dinner. Most things were shut up pretty tight in downtown Hobart on a Sunday night, but we found a pub inside a hotel catering to backpackers that was serving. It still wasn't cheap, but it wasn't too expensive, either, and the food was pretty good.

Notable Statistics

  • Hours lost: 1
  • Hours flying: 1
  • Sunglasses destroyed: 1
  • Kilometers driven: 30
  • Plaster vaginas seen: too many to count

is a writer of things with a strong adventurous streak. He also drinks coffee.

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Hello, Tasmania!
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