To my dad Hobart was a kind of heaven. He had been on a troop ship, the Washington, for a long time out of San Francisco. The Japanese had reported sinking her but she zig zagged safely through the North and South Pacific, making landfall in Hobart, Tasmania, before heading on to Freemantle and finally Calcutta.
Pop described, both in a letter to Mom and in stories to me, the harbor and the houses running up the hill toward Mt. Wellington overlooking the city. One of the souvenirs I got from him after the war was a big, round, copper Australian penny with the King on one side and a kangaroo on the other. Pop always wanted to take Mom on a cruise and sail into Hobart. They went on several cruises but not that “big one.” Pop couldn’t get that much time away from the business. And when he could he had a serious heart condition. So he never returned. I guess I’m here for both of them.
Before we arrived in Hobart the Captain told us that a storm was coming in and we would skip our other stop on Tasmania, Port Arthur, a tendering port, and leave Hobart early to get into the lee of Tasmania before it hit. That left us with a dilemma. I was interested in the things we could do Port Arthur, looking at the penal history of Van Diemen’s Land (as Tasmania was called in its early days as an island prison) and at the wildlife preserve we were scheduled to visit. We could easily travel to those from Hobart, but we elected to stay in Hobart and just wander. We were also hoping to have dinner with some friends of friends. (We live in a cruise ship port and know about that. We’ve met some delightful people through such visits.) But because the ship left earlier than planned and they work late, we had to skip that, although Katy gave us some good suggestions of where to walk.
So we walked, seeking out buildings that Pop would have seen. Katy suggested a walk along Salamanca, an old quarter of town which now houses cafes, knitting shops and bookstores. I enjoy browsing independent bookstores looking for titles I can’t find at home. One of the delights of Hobart is the public art that I will discuss in another post. Much of it is tucked into pocket parks that, in other cities, would be dark alleys or “’waste space” behind blocks of shops and offices. Discovering these parks and their art is one of the joys of a Hobart ramble. We strolled past Parliament, through downtown and back to the wharf where we had a “monster shake” in place of lunch at a seafood restraint on the wharf. Back on the ship I iced my sore Achilles tendon, I probably over did the walking (6 hours worth.)
About an hour and a half before sail out we went out again, to the old Henry Jones IXL (I excel) Jam Factory, right next to where we tied up. The place has been remade into an art hotel, long bar and shops. Katy suggested a drink at the bar. We never got that drink because we stopped at the Art Mob gallery specializing in Aboriginal art. We spent about an hour talking with the proprietor, Euan Hills, about art, public art and how it reflects on remembrance of history. We discussed indigenous/settler affairs in Australia and Alaska and how public art reflects on the different realities of Aboriginal people and settler folk. And we discussed the challenges of living in a cruise ship community. We spent a lot of time in that conversation over a glass of Australian wine that he kindly provided. By the time the conversation was over we just had time to look at some statues he pointed out to us across the street and get back to the ship before we sailed out to try to beat the storm.