The Occasional Tales of Ailsa B du Bois

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My impressions of Hobart & past observations…

Posted by Ailsa B du Bois on January 3, 2011

When I was last in Hobart (circa Oct 08) I had dinner with some work colleagues, one of whom was a quiet mannered Scot.  We were sipping pre-dinner bevvies on the upper deck of Mures Seafood Restaurant on the waterfront, and I was waxing on about how gorgeous Hobart was, when he suddenly announced “I dooooh-n’t like it”.  The Scots can be masters at brevity.

“But what about the stunning landscape and the wealth of heritage buildings? Doesn’t it remind you at least a little of Scotland?” I asked.  “Yeeees,” he said “That’s exaaaactly… thaaaaat’s the raaaay-zonnn I doooon’t like it.  It’s too much like hoooome – except that it feels waaaarmer, safer and cleeenarrr.”  Puzzled I thought “What’s not to like?”, but he was adamant it was too similar to his homeland, and too out-of-date.

Granted, the apartment complex I stayed in that trip did appear to have been decorated by my Auntie Pat, which is fine if you’re partial to conservative touches that have not altered one bit since the very early 80s.  The thing that struck me as most odd was that all the appointments were clearly very new, less than 18 months old at a guess, yet all the choices were so plain and dated, tipping over into drab.  I found it odd to think that the owner or managers had purposefully gone out and spent a whole lot of money on making the decor look a time capsule from 1981.  Despite this proliferation of old-fashioned, conservative interiors though, it seemed to me that where pockets of new century (naughties) built and social culture existed, they were right on the money.

I’ve long felt that Tasmania doesn’t quite fit with the geo-physical genre of the rest of Australia.  It has so much more in common with New Zealand I think, and I recall being told in year 12 geology that there’s some speculation that the fragments of land, or tectonic plates to be more precise, upon which Tasmania & NZ rest may possibly have floated over from the South American sub-continent many eons ago, as apparently may have the Philippines, which resonated with me. It could be a bunch of baloney, but I’m inclined to see it as feasible.

I should mention at this juncture that I failed Year 12 geology miserably, having a far keener interest at the time in the extra-curricular pursuits while on geology camps and excursions.  I paid very little attention to the formal scientific instruction I was meant to be receiving. So grankly this little gem of unsubstantiated hear-say is the only thing I really gained from the whole year of geology studies.  I’ve always been a A grade arts & social sciences student, but suffering  a big mental block with regard to natural science and mathematics.

In any case, when I reflect on my visits to Hobart, twice on business and once on a shoe-string budget holiday, I always have it in my mind that there are some quite slick cafs and restaurants about the place, though I must admit that my business trips to Wellington & Hobart often blur in my mind, so maybe when I’m thinking about Hobart I romanticise it, and unwittingly and very generously extend the cosmopolitan merits of New Zealand’s capital city to Hobart, which is simply wrong.  It’s the landscape that does it – so similar environmentally as cities in so many ways, yet clearly Wellington offers a vastly more diverse array of shopping, cultural and employment opportunities.  I adore Wellington, and if I were a Kiwi, that is where I’d choose to live.  I’ve been there about 6 times, so I have a reasonable handle on it, and one thing I do know both cities share is the intensely ferocious winds that come of the respective harbours.

I do however get a bit weary of the predictable tourist goods that Hobart offers visitors: a dozen varieties of fudge springs immediately to mind.  And the real estate prices are so inflated… I mean it’s definitely worth the money in world terms for the stunning views, the over-all charm and character of the city, the convenience and user-friendliness of the place, and so on, however in the context of the very limited earning capacity most people would have once living there, it really makes no sense to me.

I know that a significant amount of retired academics, antique dealers, government policy administrators, gourmands and the like have shifted to Tassie from major mainland capitals in the past 10 years or more, and have been able to pay the price, thus rationalising it, but at the end of the day I can’t see how the real estate values make sense within the Tasmanian economy.  But that’s just my take on it.  Maybe there’s something I don’t know…

It will be interesting to review the place while on holiday for a change, and with my hub with me, and get his take on it.  My hunch has always been that he’ll be entirely seduced by the place, as I have been, despite its provincial shortcomings (which in turn feed into its very sweetness), so it will be interesting to see what he thinks.  We’re not about to pack up and move there, but the sheer beauty of Tasmania is tantalising.

All of that said, in just 5 more sleeps we’ll be there, and I can reappraise it all.  Knowing that January is their warmest month & its forecast to be 16 to 24 degree with rain forming, which is probably as sunny and bright as it gets… Tasmania is known to be green for a reason.  It’s a wee bit wet a lot of the time, I do suspect.

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