Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Hobart, Tasmania (29/8/07)

I really shouldn’t have fallen for that Banjo’s girl yesterday. She made me a particularly bad coffee, yet I lined up at Banjo’s (a bakery chain) again this morning, this time compounding my error by having breakfast as well. It was bad (although the mushrooms proved quite resilient to the Banjo’s treatment, and were quite tasty.)

Another long day’s drive,
broken only by a stop at Zeehan
to check out the museum: Here I learned that I had made an error in my thinking about the Mt Linney rail: it closed in the 1960's, not 100 years ago. I thought it was odd for it to have closed way back then, as the line only became operative 110 years ago. But I left the museum with another point of confusion: why were so many of the boats serving Strahan in the late 19th century, despite being built in Scotland, given Maori names? No idea.

As part of the museum, I could look inside a building which had puzzled me when I first came through Zeehan, as I could not discern its function
It turns out it was the Gaiety Theatre and Hotel
Interestingly, there was a bit of a feature in the theatre about Eileen Joyce, an internationally renowned concert pianist who was said to have come from Zeehan. While that claim is true, the online biographies I have seen suggest she left when she was two and never really returned, except maybe to play the Gaiety.

The drive was not the best, wet and low visibility. Luckily there was little traffic, as the roads would be murder to try to pass on. The radio was full of two topics - equine flu and the pulp mill (not surprising, as the two Houses of the Tasmanian Parliament is starting its deliberation process today). They’re tipped to say yes, which I’m finding a bit hard, because I’m sure I read that a majority of Tasmanians are against it, something like 87%.

The thing that scares me the most is the random way in which the decision is being made, by people with no expertise in assessing this kind of project, by some with an avowed inclination to not listen to those with expertise, by some with a clear agenda to respond to some perceived need - for work, for keeping Tasmanians in Tasmania, for helping the timber industry. One guy, from some timber workers union, was so full of “if you don’t support us, its because you hate us/are ignorant” that I had to turn off and listen to music. Democracy, eh? And I was listening to this as I was driving past the consequences of earlier projects in Tasmania:
I did wonder why there was no environmental agency responsible for deciding this - in NZ, a resource consent (or rather, a multitude of them) would be needed - from the council (the decision of which would be amenable to appeal). It turns out that a similar process had originally been started in Tasmania, but that Gunns had decided the process was not for them, and refused to go through with it, throwing themselves at the mercy of the Parliamentarians.

In Hobart, I fell on my feet. I had no plans for a place to stay, so just parked the car and walked randomly. Two blocks into this random walk, I found the YHA. Choice made. No worries about finding good food here either - Elizabeth Street is strewn with eateries, as is the waterfront (which in my brief evening walk seems to be nicely developed). I went Greek, simply because I have so little familiarity with it, having eaten Greek food maybe twice (unless you count late 1980's Auckland foodcourt style Greek food). I’ve certainly never eaten barbecued octopus before. Very tasty, although I don't really buy the claim that this particular restaurant invented the technique of barbecuing octopus. Not yet confident enough with the camera to whip it out and take a photo as I dine.

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