Tasmania 2 – Mount Wellington (kunanyi)

We love climbing mountains. You may have noticed. The first morning of our trip, as we drove into Hobart, I saw what is locally referred to as the Organ Pipes on top of Mount Wellington and told James: I want to climb that one. He told me not to get my hopes up, but turns out, yes, I was going to climb it.

I am not sure how to document the experience! We have hundreds of photos and it was such an incredible experience. How can I possibly simmer it down to a blog post? Basically I am going to take you along the hike with me… there’s going to be A LOT of photos (it was 18km after all!).

Start of the hike. I am full of glee because I got to choose the first mountain we are climbing.

Waterfall crossing. Look right…

Look left…

First of two echidnas we saw!

Normally I don’t bother to make my pictures clickable. But I’m going to try and remember for most of these because everything soooo beautiful.

We met these gorgeous spiders (update: they are Nicodamus peregrinus). They have these fascinating abdomens that are like black-turquoise opals, and bright red legs. James got some great macro shots of them, I must eventually get them off him and insert here, mine will have to make do in the interim:

My head, with the Organ Pipes right up in the top right hand corner:

Sphinx Rock Lookout (with James, who due to walking faster than me, is determined to photobomb everything I try to photograph).

I loved these plants, similar to broom?

The view from the lookout (Organ Pipes to the left! yes, I’m going to climb up on top of them!)

As we reached closer to the Pinnacle track, it got a lot colder and started to rain.

Then the sun would come out intermittently. I was taking my rain jacket off and on again every other minute.

The landscape changed constantly too.

Target up ahead! (this also makes me realise how long this post is going to be… we still aren’t even half way there).

This picture may look like it was taken on an angle, but it was not.

Hazy view, not quite Hallasan levels but making me think we won’t see much from the top!

I’m aware I probably need to post fewer photos of these craggy mountains ahead of me, but I just… I just love them!

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Selfie time

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First crystal of snow…
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Suddenly a lot more snow…
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The Pinnacle!
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At this point the wind was gusting over 110kmph and the snow was stinging every exposed part of me — my face, but also my calves! I watched great big men struggle to stay upright! I squealed as the wind whipped snow into my eyes, and I hugged the rocks as we clambered up to the highest point.

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Like a boss despite the howling wind!
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Leaning back against the wind – you can see my boots lifting off!

Then minutes later — this is the view!

We were following a loop which meant we didn’t have to walk the same way back — more landscape changes.

You can’t tell in this picture but it’s now starting to snow again, and the wind was still whipping around us, hence the stylish condom effect.

Getting well snowy!

Ok! That’s enough snow, let’s switch to flooded rainy paths! Definitely reminded me of Hallashan, this one…

The sun is out again…

and I’m obsessing over the lichens everywhere:

Another path presents itself just as the clouds go in.

Waterfall crossing again

Some time after this point I realised I hadn’t seen James in ages. He’s normally way up ahead and I don’t necessarily have him within sight, but generally he stops every now and then for me to catch up. I feel first faint annoyance, then mild anxiety, which prompts me to call out for him, because I am feeling quite isolated all of a sudden. Calling does nothing and my thin reedy voice seems to carry about as far as the next tree. I should pause and mention that my feelings about Tasmania’s landscapes are marked by a film called Van Diemen’s Land, which is famous for its bleak, untouched landscapes, surrounding desperate convicts who are completely lost, and who hack each other to pieces and eat each other as they desperately try to find… I don’t even remember what they were trying to find. ANYWAY. Rosie anxiety begins to evolve into actual panic that I’ve lost James and maybe he’s hurt himself somewhere or I took the wrong path, hah, hah, irrational anxiety is so amusing. I had started crying and wailing Jaaaaaaames, before I finally caught up enough for him to hear me and coming running back, convinced I must be in grave danger given my blubbering wails. Thereafter we held hands until I had regained my cool and my independence. Also we are almost done!

Second echidna sighting!

This one was less blasé and hid from us (in plain sight) under some bark.

And that’s it! Congratulations, you just blog-walked 18km up Mount Wellington and back down again, in rain, wind, sun, and snow. To come still: Mount Amos and Wineglass Bay.


Tasmania 1 – MONA

If you’ve read this blog much in the past you will know I don’t have much free time. I mostly am at work all day, and then when I’m not at work I’m flopping around whinging about all the studying I have to do for this stupid Masters that seems like it will never finish. James being back from Afghanistan meant I got to see him when I get home from work, complain at him about work, then sit down and study, occasionally looking up to complain about study. For this reason I made sure to get a day off work for the long Cup Weekend (a horrid horse racing holiday we all get) and we booked a trip to Tasmania. My plans were: Go to MONA (the Museum of Old and New Art) and climb some mountains. We did both, with great success.

To get to MONA you take the ferry, MONA ROMA. Riding on a sheep.

First sight of MONA, all red and rusty.

I loved MONA. Sadly both the touring galleries were closed whilst we were there, but we spent a good 4 hours wandering the permanent exhibits. You are provided with an specially programmed iPod Touch upon arrival, which detects which artworks you are close to, and then you can find out all the usual details but also look into its “Art Wank” and “Art Gonzo” categories for additional insights. It also tracks everything you look at so you can save your tour, and then log in to revisit everything virtually — forever. Can you imagine always being able to revisit every museum you’ve ever been to, and having access to photos and information about the things you saw, so you could always research them further, or show them to people? I feel it’s such a thoughtful addition to the museum experience.

My tour – not that it’s as exciting for you guys, given it’s just a screencap.

From the moment you start the tour, down in the basement, the building itself is just so incredibly powerful. I think I took more pictures of the walls carved directly out of the cliff, than of any other feature. All the more impressive in a museum environment where temperature and relative humidity have to be carefully controlled.

I didn’t take many pictures of the artworks inside, but I did love this one, called Kryptos. It’s a small, low-lit concrete maze, with binary strewn on the walls, representing an encoding of a translation of the very old Mesopotamian text, ‘The Epic of Gilgamesh’ (yep, stole that from my virtual tour!). It is very atmospheric and slightly spooky.

In the central chamber I went to take a photo of James, and then out of the corner of my eye saw a sinister figure lunging at me from the ceiling and almost had a heart attack. Mirrors.

The only other two that I felt the urge to photograph were ones that I felt a strong link to. This one is a Buddha formed from 8 tons of incense ashes collected from Buddhist temples. The ashes were formed in this aluminium mould:

and then the resulting statue has been gently disintegrating ever since.

The Chinese artist, Zhang Huan, apparently has a gigantic warehouse and many staff whose responsibility it is to sift through all the incense ash they can get, and ship the stuff out around the world to art galleries willing to pay for their own ash Buddhas. I BELIEVE IN CHINESE ART.

The other one I really liked enough to take a photo reminds me of The Fairy Feller’s Master Stroke by Richard Dadd. This creepy yet fascinating piece was assembled from “taxidermied hedgehog, wasp nest, rat and hedgehog bones, dried toads, eggshell, crab shell, insects, plant roots”. You obviously can’t see from my photo, but there are tiny fairies made from what appears to be flies legs to me (but I am informed are minute twigs) riding bumble bees and attacking what appears to be everything in sight. It’s called The Fairy Horde and the Hedgehog Host, and my photo is just terrible.

Outside the museum it was glorious and sunny and perfect weather to appreciate the Gothic Chapel.

Inside, the stained glass windows are x-rays of human bodies.

Then we went down to the pier to wait for the ferry and gawp at the landscape. Warning: this is the first of many panoramic views to come. You should be able to click it for a bigger pic.

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