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