29 April, 2015 - By 9:30 am, we had said our goodbyes to the 'gang' at Henry Jones, thanked them for a brilliant stay, and headed over to MONA. With Hobart’s seamless road system and smaller population, our travel time by car was an easy 15 minutes.
Located within the Moorilla winery on the Berriedale peninsula in Hobart, MONA ( The Museum of Old and New Art) is the brainchild of mathematical genius, pro gambler and multi-millionaire, David Walsh. It was his guilt over making millions through gambling that influenced his decision to create what was to become the largest privately funded museum in Australia. With over three subterranean floors filled with art works across various mediums, and a smattering of works across the property itself, MONA is not for the conservative or faint hearted. From the main structure and its layout, to the works that the museum houses, it does everything it can to provoke its visitors, shattering all preconceptions of art and turning it on its head. From the “poo machine” (you read correctly) on B2, Death Gallery on B1, and c**t soaps, syringe pens and silk scarves at the MONA shop that inspires the wearer to “F**k Art, Let’s Dance,” the museum is the epitome of irreverence. So stellar is its reputation that some overseas guests have been known to fly into Hobart for the sole purpose of visiting the museum and flying out again on the same day.
After a couple of hours inside the museum, we were exhausted from sensory overload. Wandering around MONA’s lush and well tended grounds, we regained some of our equilibrium before heading over to their restaurant, where we enjoyed their “Picnic Platter,” a delicious selection of cold cuts, pickled vegetables and relishes, teamed with warm, toasted sourdough. After we rested our heels, we commenced the next leg of our journey, towards Swansea. Distance: 135 km from Hobart.
We stumbled across a little gem just 3 km south of Swansea, Kate’s Berry Farm. With half an hour left till closing time, we parked our car and hightailed it to the shop door, located under a charming wisteria-draped pergola. We were pleased to meet Kate and sample several of her exquisite handmade creations. However, nothing prepared us for the taste sensation of Kate’s fresh strawberries, with absolutely nothing on them. Kate’s story is worth telling. Born and raised in Victoria, she fell in love with Tasmania the first time she visited in 1971. In 1988, Kate made the move from Victoria to Swansea on Tasmania’s East Coast, where she found her 10 acre dream property overlooking sea and mountains. On the smell of an oily rag, Kate faced the challenge of creating hearth, home and income head on. In true pioneering spirit, she turned the soil, taught herself how to build, and from posts, beams, mud and concrete, created what is today Kate's Berry Farm.
Leaving Kate’s Berry Farm, we arrived in Swansea just before dusk. A small town in the heart of Tasmania's east coast, Swansea sits on the north-west shore of Great Oyster Bay and overlooks Freycinet National Park. A great base to use for touring Tasmania’s east coast and its hinterlands, we planned to spend the night here before continuing on to Freycinet National Park.
With not much happening in the town of Swansea itself, the views and access to the pristine beach and waters of Jubilee Beach from our hilltop cottage was what it was all about. Our accommodation at Swansea Beach Chalets was simple, clean, comfortable and extremely affordable. Dinner for us that night was at the Bark Mill Tavern & Bakery. Within walking distance from our cottage, the pizzas were good, beer was cold, service was efficient and friendly, and by the look of the crowd, it was a favourite of the locals after a hard day’s work. There sure is a lot to be said for life's simple pleasures.