THRILLS AND CHILLS

INFORMER CON­TIN­UES HIS WINDSWEPT AND IN­TER­EST­ING AD­VEN­TURES IN A LIT­TLE IS­LAND AT THE BOT­TOM OF THE WORLD

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Gold Coast Eye - - INFORMER - WORDS: MICHAEL JACOBSON

For Informer’s fi­nal rect­an­gle from Tas­ma­nia, to­day finds me in Ho­bart, or as it’s bet­ter known, North Antarc­tica. Fair dinkum, the wind is so strong it could blow the whiskers off Nanna. And yet how lovely a city it is.

Ac­tu­ally, I should say how lovely a city it has be­come, be­cause it was not al­ways so.

For many years Ho­bart was a cap­i­tal by name only, a city with no real sense of it­self or its pos­si­bil­i­ties. To­day, how­ever, it pos­i­tively buzzes. That’s not easy for Informer to ad­mit. Grow­ing up in Launce­s­ton, or as it’s bet­ter known, Slightly Fur­ther North Antarc­tica, we lo­cals main­tained a love-hate re­la­tion­ship with Ho­bart. We loved to hate it. The northsouth di­vide was keenly felt with each side wish­ing woe upon the other.

Trou­ble is, I’ve spent the past few days in Ho­bart and there is seem­ingly no end to its vi­brant, cos­mopoli­tan, colour­ful and con­fi­dent de­lights. Sadly, the same can­not be said for my home town, which is all a bit grey and want­ing. I’m sure this will be rec­ti­fied in time, but for the mo­ment Ho­bart has Launce­s­ton on toast.

Part of the rea­son for this is the Mu­seum of Old and New Art, or MONA, which is bring­ing the world to Ho­bart to gawk at its won­der­ful weird­ness. If you haven’t been, you sim­ply must. MONA is a stag­ger­ing achieve­ment in ar­chi­tec­ture, en­gi­neer­ing, con­struc­tion, imag­i­na­tion and au­dac­ity, all of which ex­cuses the fact that a large chunk of the ac­tual art is to­tal wank.

Yet while MONA makes head­lines, there is plenty more to rec­om­mend Ho­bart. The wa­ter­front is great, Sala­manca Place is a treat, the views are mag­i­cal, the bridge no longer has a hole in it and Mount Welling­ton looms over the lot with a de­cid­edly tem­per­a­men­tal majesty. Still, Ho­bart is about more than just things. It has a style, an at­mos­phere, that dear old Launce­s­ton has lost.

In fact, I wasn’t aware just how much it had lost un­til Mrs Informer and I wan­dered into a gallery and watched a film about Launce­s­ton in the 1960s.

What an eye-opener. The streets were filled with cars pootling this way and that. The foot­paths were packed with peo­ple. Thou­sands went to the footy. The evening shots showed lights blink­ing and blaz­ing from crowded shops, restau­rants, cafes, the­atres and pubs.

Then we walked out of the gallery and into the city and it was like, zzzzzzzzzz. I was ret­i­cent about say­ing as much to my friends and fam­ily, all of whom call Laun­nie home, but mostly they agree. Some­thing must hap­pen to give the place some oomph.

The arts is try­ing. The writ­ers’ fes­ti­val I at­tended was a rip­per — Informer was very good, by the way — as was a mod­ern art fes­ti­val a week ear­lier. Fur­ther­more, the even­tual shift­ing of the univer­sity closer to the CBD will fill the joint with lively, lovely, young peo­ple. For the most part, how­ever, Laun­nie is look­ing a tad tired and shabby in con­trast to its south­ern neme­sis.

Even so, Informer has had a mar­vel­lous sojourn to my lit­tle is­land at the bot­tom of the world, this place that at var­i­ous stages formed, re­formed, con­formed, de­formed and, yes, in­formed Informer. It was lovely to come home. Now it’s time to come home.

“I’M SURE THIS WILL BE REC­TI­FIED IN TIME, BUT FOR THE MO­MENT HO­BART HAS LAUNCE­S­TON ON TOAST.”

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