I first learned about Hobart from Pop. During the Second World War he was on a troop ship, the George Washington, sailing from San Francisco to Calcutta (as it was then known). They zigged and zagged for weeks. The first landfall they made was in Hobart, Tasmania. My father thought it was Shangri-La. He described the buildings running up the hill from the waterfront and the friendly people. He gave me a penny with a kangaroo from Australia (I’m not sure if it was from Hobart or Fremantle, the port for Perth, where the fleet formed up into a convoy to sail to India. Pop always wanted to take Mom to Hobart, but it didn’t happen. Now I am here for the second time, sailing in on a ship around Cape Raoul into this friendly port.
We arrived on a Sunday night, not any Sunday, but the Sunday of Regatta and the Wooden Boat Festival. The festival included a symposium on wooden boats including, history of, care of, and different types of wooden boats. It had a shipwrights’ meeting. Lots of entertainment, parades of sail, including 11 tall ships, ship open houses and exhibits, including exhibits of steam engines and early marine petrol engines and, of course, evening fireworks.
It was an unexpected treat and we enjoyed much of what the festival offered, including sailing in and out through a fleet of wooden ships and being fascinated by the old steam and marine engines.
We also had time, while in Hobart to visit MONA (Museum of Old and New Art, see separate post) and an Aboriginal Art Gallery “ART MOB” that we visited 5 years ago. I bought a piece of art that interested me, by Michelle Butler of Alice Springs.
But more to the point, I wanted to find out about the progress of a piece of public art that the gallery director, Euan, was trying to promote. At the harbor there is a group of statues of confused and scared Irish convict woman and their kids off the boat. Euan wants to erect statues of an aboriginal family watching them from across the way. It would complete the picture. He is still facing resistance to his idea but thinks he’s making progress with the city council.
The sail out was special, surrounded by tall ships, moving slowly, Zuiderdam sounding her horn and trying to avoid, as the Captain put it “The unfortunate meeting of iron and wood.”
As we sailed out there was a full rainbow, with one end lighting up a lighthouse.