DM's Hobart 2017 Diary

Day 5 - Tasmanian Museum and Mawson's Hut

Tuesday 26 December, 2017

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This morning was a leisurely sleep in, followed by breakfast cereal. I made sandwiches again for lunch, peanut butter for M., and I remembered to use the cheese we'd bought the other day for myself. Then we walked down the hill into Hobart, stopping briefly at Beaujangles Cafe for M. to have a coffee. She said it was very expensive, at $4.50, but maybe that included a public holiday surcharge. We sat in the upstairs room, which was pretty nice, nicer than the downstairs seating.

Hope and Anchor Tavern
Historic Hope and Anchor Tavern (formerly The Whale Fishery and The Alexandra), oldest pub in Australia

Next stop was the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, which is housed in a couple of historic buildings down near the waterfront. We entered and placed my camera bag, our jackets, and our hats into a locker, then set off to explore the exhibits. It's a combined natural history and human history museum, with displays of Tasmanian animals, minerals, and Aboriginal history. There was a large display about Aboriginal artefacts and culture, and a history of European contact and the tragic consequences for the local natives.

Muttaburrasaurus skeleton, Tasmanian Museum

On the natural history side there was a room dedicated to the thylacine, or Tasmanian tiger, which was hunted to extinction, the last one dying in captivity in 1936. This is so recent that there is film footage and dozens of photos of the animals, as well as well preserved skins and taxidermied specimens. There was also a special temporary exhibition on the Tasmanian devil, detailing its habits, interactions with humans, and the current threat of transmissible facial tumour disease. Then there were lots of specimens of other animals: kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, quolls, and other mammals, eagles, owls, parrots, penguins, and other birds, and a host of other things, including spectacular butterflies and beetles. There was also a special display about subantarctic life: whales, seals, seabirds, fish, and so on.

Beetle collection, Tasmanian Museum

On the upstairs floor was the art gallery section, containing decorative arts displays of Tasmanian made furniture and household items, plus paintings by Australian artists, both modern and traditional, including many landscapes showing Tasmanians scenes. There was also a temporary gallery showing contemporary artwork by Aboriginal artists from a local printmaking workshop.

Tasmanian art gallery
Art gallery section, Tasmanian Museum

We stopped after all this to sit at a shady table on the outdoor verandah outside the museum cafe and eat our sandwiches for lunch. M. got a coffee and said they also had vanilla slices, so I tried one of those (which turned out to have soggy pastry). After eating, we entered the second and older building of the museum, the old Bond Building, which had been used as a warehouse in the early colony. This contained more animal displays on the ground floor, plus some colonial era historical artefacts and the displays about colonial relations with the natives upstairs.

After completing this museum, we walked the block across to the Mawson's Hut Replica Museum, which is an exact replica of the wooden hut built by Mawson's Antarctic expedition of 1911-1914, even built of the same type of wood imported from Norway. Inside it contains displays about the expedition, the men on it, the sled dogs, and their various adventures and misadventures, as well as some artefacts retrieved from the original hut in Antarctica. The interior is decorated with authentic examples of tins, bottles, books, cooking utensils, work tools, and other things, just like the original hut. Although this museum is small, it is incredibly interesting and awe-inspiring, conveying how tough it must have been to spend time in Antarctica on the expedition.

Mawson's kitchen
Kitchen, Mawson's Hut Replica Museum

Leaving the museums for the day, we wandered over to the Brooke Street Pier to find a place to sit and have a drink and rest for a while. There were some market style stalls in here, and M. decided to bu a spurtle made of black-heart sassafras wood. Then we took seats at a bar counter in the The Glass House restaurant and cafe, with a good view straight out a large glass wall on to the Derwent River. M. had a mocha coffee, while I tried the McHenry's Christmas gin which I'd seen at Salamanca Market the other day. This is a gin flavoured with frankincense and myrrh. They also have one with gold flakes in it too, to complete the trifecta; I saw some bottles out in the pier market area and the ones with gold cost $20 more than without.

Drinks at The Glass House
Drinks at The Glass House

We relaxed and read some books for a while, until we were ready to leave for dinner. We found a Thai restaurant about halfway between where we were and our motel, called Royal Thai, which opened at 17:30. This was actually our second choice, but the first one we tried calling to see if it was open on Boxing Day didn't answer, whereas Royal Thai confirmed they were open. We walked up and got there just before they opened, ready to have an early dinner so we could relax in our room for the evening.

We ordered a serve of vegetable spring rolls, followed by stir fried vegetables and tofu with cashew nuts, plus a dish of deep fried fish pieces in sweet chilli sauce with cashews. This latter one had pineapple chunks in it too, and was really more like a sweet and sour dish than spicy chilli. We took the leftover vegetables and rice back to our motel have later, and then rested up for the remainder of the evening.

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