After an excellent sleep and an equally excellent breakfast (it feels so nice to stop eating oatmeal for once!), Damien took me aboard his sailboat on the Derwent River. The wind was a bit less stronger than expected and quite changing, but it was an amazing experience for me! Damien is an experienced sailor, he has sailed around Tasmania and to Melbourne, and taken part to some regattas.
Then we sailed upstream on the river, working upwind. I could hold the wheel and set the sails with the winches, and learn some sailing English vocabulary.
On our way back to the yacht club Damien spotted a strange boat that he wanted too see from closer. With his impressive boat knowledge, he could identify that it was a boat meant to sail around the poles. After some checks a few days later, I realised that he was right: this boat, the Pangaea, was built for the famous explorer Mike Horn, for a sailing adventure across all the oceans of the globe.Back on the shore, Damien took me to Mount Nelson signal station, where one of the semaphores allowing communication with Port Arthur is still existing. The place offers beautiful panoramic views on Hobart and the rugged Tasmanian shoreline. When the weather was good, this system could send a 20 words message from Port Arthur to Hobart (100km by the shortest road) in 15 minutes. At the era of optic fibre internet, this might sound ridiculous, but in the early 19th century this was a lot!
In the afternoon, I performed (boring but necessary) maintenance of my bike’s drivetrain. Then I biked all my way to MONA, the Museum of Old and New Art. This museum is the creation and the property of David Walsh, an eccentric Tasmanian who made his fortune developing used to bet on horse racing and other sport. This museum presents antiquities, modern and contemporary art form Walsh’s own collection. He describes it as “a subversive Disneyland for adults”. According to many people I have met, this is really a must see, and I put Hobart on the global cultural map. Even if I don’t like that much modern art (I hate when someone tells me the profound message that the artist has tried to send us by painting only a 3 little red dots on a white canvas), I decided that I had to see it and make up my own mind.
Well, I liked it a lot, and I regret that I couldn’t spend more time in the museum. I liked the fact that it is really entertaining, it mixes modern art and older art, showing us that sometimes old African sculptures or Arab mosaics can present abstract geometrical motifs and be closer from modern art than what we think. Of course I did not like everything and I found some of the “artworks” ugly and uselessly provocative, but I really liked the fact that modern art is not displayed too seriously. Instead, it is more intended as a series of stimuli that will make you go through a vast range of emotions: disgust, incomprehension, joy, admiration, laugh, … So, overall, a great experience that I would recommend even to people like me with a negative a priori on modern art.