Behind The Black - A Mona Adventure

By Andrew Johnstone
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It’s easy to be a little in awe of the people who work at Mona (the Museum of Old & New Art). Almost always dressed in black, they exude a sense of ‘cool’ that comes with being an insider at a company well known for, at least on the surface, bucking the system and doing whatever they like. The almost cult-like adoration of Mona, in particular of eccentric founder David Walsh, by both employees and the general public is infectious. You may not enjoy everything they do, but you have to respect the way they do it.

Of course, what you see on the surface does not always tell the whole story. Students at creative educator Foundry (and full disclosure publishers of Lume) were recently given the opportunity to look below the surface during a tour of Mona.

Clad head-to-toe in black (of course), Mona functions and events coordinator Katie Holmes and Mona premium partnerships and experiences director Maria Lurighi kicked off the tour with an introduction that gave the students a better idea of the broad scope of the hospitality activities that Mona is involved in. There’s a lot going on at the main Mona site, with multiple bars, cafés, and restaurants, Moorilla winery, Moo Brew brewery and regular events of various sizes.

One of the biggest challenges it seems is having multiple venues in a working museum and the shuffling of people and logistics that this entails.

“Things always look calm on the surface but behind the scenes it’s pretty chaotic,” Katie was happy to admit.

“It takes a very professional team to make it all work.”

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As we step into The Source restaurant, Maria demonstrates a remarkable memory for the many staff members scurrying around, rattling off their names and (generally impressive) achievements. Award winning dancers, musicians and artists working in the vibrant Mona atmosphere as a day job. The rapid-fire discussion encapsulates the thinking behind the restaurant’s architecture, artwork, design, menu and philosophy, which are all based around fertility, a theme that David Walsh and his wife Kirsha Kaechele chose personally.

We progress deep into the heart of the relatively new Pharos wing of the museum. The group shuffles through some of the non-public storage and office areas. It’s always interesting to see restricted areas of any venue, even just to enjoy the bemused and slightly confused looks from the staff.

The highlight of the Pharos area was the amazing Jame Turrell light installation that is apparently repainted daily due to people accidentally walking off the path and leaving footprints on the artwork. At Faros, we marvel at the bar and restaurant’s clever design, centred around a massive spherical art installation. There are waiters wearing lab coats and those majestic views over the Derwent River.

The tour soon moves on to Moorilla winery. Whether wine is your thing or not, the tour itself was full of interesting facts about the history of the winery and how it has developed. Moorilla is in fact Tasmania’s second-oldest vineyard, kept from the top spot by just six months by Providence Vineyards in Northern Tasmania. After David Walsh purchased it in 1995, Moorilla became the inspiration and, of course, location for the Mona museum itself.

After a few cheeky wine samples with a lot of enthusiastic, bordering on obsessive, explanations of vintage, colour, mouth-feel and nose, the tour wrapped up with a light lunch featuring some of the best hummus you’ll likely ever taste, and a sample Moo Brew beer.

Mona staff are clearly passionate for a reason. The design and curation of the museum, the restaurants and the wine and beer is impressive and truly worthy of the awards and accolades they receive. They may be clad in black, but their grasp of and passion for their patch of Tassie turf is illuminating.

The Challenge of Difference

By Catherine Loppy

What’s it like to move to a completely new place? To uproot from everything you know and learn a new way of living? To navigate a new culture and establish yourself, when English is not your first language? Lume caught up with Catherine Loppy, who migrated to Melbourne in 2010 and is now living in Hobart. She’s not only found her feet, but will release a book on her experience, titled Beyond the Shadows, in late September.

I travelled all the way from the Gambia in West Africa to study in Australia, leaving parents, siblings and relatives behind and embracing the journey into the unfamiliar. My grant-aunt and my parents wanted a brighter future with greater opportunities for their twenty-four-year-old daughter.

When I arrived in Australia the most significant challenge I faced, and still face to some degree, is the challenge of difference.

How do I fit in?
Where do I start?
Who can understand me?

I experienced a massive culture shock. Everyone looked so different from the people I left in my hometown; the people I grew up with in my neighbourhood, where we shared the same stories and laughed about the same things. I felt lost, alone, and overwhelmed.

And the Australian accent is … unique! People couldn’t understand me and my Gambian accent. I was talked down to and summarily waved aside publicly as I tried to interact, just because I sounded different. I was corrected and put on the spot anytime I mispronounced certain words. I felt disgraced everywhere, be it in the shops, social gatherings, work or school. I began to secretly wish that no one would talk to me so that I didn’t have to respond, so they don’t notice my accent. It was like I should run away and hide. But there was nowhere to hide.

Of course, when people noticed my difference, they bombarded me with questions. “What is your name? Where are you from? How long have you been here? Where do you work or are you studying? In which university are you studying? What are you studying?” Questions upon questions shot at me. Within, I would be thinking, “Please, can’t I be let alone?” Of course, I tried as much as I could to answer as civilly as possible. In the midst of all these, my heart was yearning so much to belong, but I guess my accent and difference ruled me out all the time.

Being in a new environment with limited information can be a hard experience. In my new environment, I was mocked, criticised and ridiculed at times.

I was the only female student in an academic year of 60 students studying building and construction, so I stood out like a sore thumb. My classmates would make jest of me, wondering what I was doing in a male dominant field, and often laughed at me during lessons. Because of that, I felt intimidated and scared to ask questions during class.

One of the most humiliating scenarios was when a classmate came to me, looked me in the eye and said, “What are you doing here Catherine? This is a male course, and why not go do a secretarial course, a lady’s course?”. That was confronting and painful.

Couple of times had to repeat myself so many times before I got understood. This drove me to think I wasn’t good enough because I can’t pronounce or present myself in an acceptable manner.

I was too ashamed and scared to ask questions.

I was willing to adapt, but I felt the people in my unfamiliar surroundings weren’t helping my adaptation process.

I wanted to be accepted the way I was, no apologies. It was hard to meet the daily expectations. It was overwhelming for me. I cried, I prayed, I asked so many ‘why?’ and ‘when will it end?’ questions. I even lost confidence in myself at a point. The harsh whispers because of my difference were too much to bear. All I wanted was to belong. I tried so hard to be accepted and appreciated, that I got weighed down by the pain of rejection.

Down the line I had some very helpful lecturers that were willing to support me during my first two years at TAFE especially when they realised that I was the only female student for my course during that academic year. Two of them urged me to seek their assistance anytime needed and they were always approachable. The best part of that time was when a male classmate decided to be my friend and help me through with some of the difficult subjects in my course. He would actually sit next to me in class as I used to sit alone. That was a huge relief and the beginning of a long awaited belonging welcome! At least someone was acknowledging my difference and was okay with me being in their midst.

Eventually, I concluded that something had to give way. I couldn’t continue beating myself down because I found myself in a different environment. So I started to value my difference and embrace my uniqueness, knowing I can add value to others and am capable of making a difference in any environment I find myself. I had to force myself to engage with people and move forward irrespective of these challenges. And now, I am glad I pressed on, pushed through, moved forward and finally broke barriers.

I intentionally put in effort to talk, chat and sit next to my male classmates. I pushed myself to be in the same group assignments when the lecturers asked us to choose our groups. I arranged group studies and intentionally ask them about their career paths and what they wanted to do after graduation. This was a huge success for me as I gradually became friends with quite a handful of them. I was building a pathway to allow us to break off our different silos and give us a chance to know each other. And the moment that chance was given, it started a friendship of laughter, fun and group studies that I still cherish up to this day, even though we’ve all graduated and gone our different ways.

Now, I live in Hobart, which has been so welcoming for me. I felt that belonging in the atmosphere the moment I stepped out of the plane. I’ve been privileged to connect with some community groups and I love every moment spent with the community.

The lessons I learned and my advice to anyone facing the unknown and struggling to belong:

  1. Never look down on yourself because you’re different.

  2. Do not allow people’s perspectives of you to rob you of your confidence.

  3. Know who you are and accept your identity. You don’t need affirmation from people to validate you.

  4. Never allow rejection to weigh you down. Value your difference and embrace the uniqueness in you, knowing you can make a difference in your community.

  5. Finally, I have come to understand that difference does not rule you out. You decide whether you are ruled out or not by your attitude.

Is it time to bite the bullet and embrace self driving cars?

By Brayden Towns
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I recently overheard two businessmen complaining about their constant travel between Launceston and Hobart and how all their woes would all be put to ease if we were just to add a high speed train between the two cities. A common gripe.

Anyone who has lived in the state for any length of time will be familiar with this magical solution. Build a bullet train and then you could commute to work.

But on the drive between the two cities myself only days later, and as I sat caught up at my second set of road work traffic lights, I too begun to contemplate the impact that high speed transport could have on the state. It was at this moment that I saw, two cars in front of me, a Tesla Model S; not only one of the most recognisable fully electric cars, but also one of the first consumer facing cars to come equipped with a self-driving mode they call ‘auto-pilot’.

It got me thinking. Could the inevitable oncoming technology of autonomous vehicles render the mystical bullet train obsolete? And beyond this, what could the adoption of such a technology as a state look like in some of our key problem areas like our ageing population, environmental sustainability, the Hobart housing crisis, and the unending fascination Launcestonians seem to have with there not being enough car parks.

But first the highway.

Commercial bullet trains move at around 320k/ph, whereas autonomous vehicles can theoretically drive safely at approximately 190k/ph when in an ‘autonomous only’ road infrastructure. This autonomous only road infrastructure is the idea of two researchers at the University of California who devised the idea in response to the exorbitant cost of a proposed high speed rail project. While theoretical, a hyperlane is a side lane off of the regular highway that only self driving cars can use. Due to the lack of human error involved, they are able to communicate with one another and safely operate at super high speeds with exceptional reliability and accuracy. The biggest thing? The proposal was projected to save $105M per kilometre of implementation. A lot cheaper and a bit slower.

However, the other point to consider here is that self-driving cars are coming to our roads whether we like it or not. In an increasingly automated world and in a state with such a high number of road fatalities, self-driving vehicles could start to be an answer to long, monotonous and sleep inducing highway driving. People would be freed up to work, sleep, talk, catch up on Netflix and more while being driven between locations. The ability to start your work day while still in transit reduces the time pressures of living outside city centres and encourages more diverse and financially sustainable housing options for white collar employees.

Beyond this, the emergence of self-driving vehicles will likely see the reduction of car-ownership in general, with people subscribing to services where cars just turn up and take you places as you need. Those who own cars will be able send them off to work for them while they are at the office, replacing not only the cost of parking with an income but also reducing the need for parking in the first place. With less need for car parks, the cities can be reimagined as pedestrian focussed economic hubs, encouraging more foot traffic and stimulating the local economies.

Tasmania’s ageing population won’t be left out either, with cheaper and more accessible transport, the elderly will have greater freedom and access to the cities they inhabit. With less incentive to drive we could also see a substantial reduction in road accidents, of which upwards of 100,000 per year in Australia are caused by people with early dementia alone.

The last factor to consider is that the majority of self-driving vehicles are partly or completely electric. As we continue to progress toward sustainable energy, this reduction in greenhouse gas emissions combined with the reduced footprint of fewer cars needed on roads in total, would align well with the eco-friendly sentiment Tasmania is known for. Heck, an eco-focussed major infrastructure project might just be the thing we need to get everyone unified on a single idea.

The hyperlane may be as stupid an idea as the bullet train. I can just imagine what an autonomous car would do if it attempted to follow the mess of orange bollards, yellow lines, and roadworks that have littered the Midland Highway for what feels like the majority of my life. However the more interesting fact, at least to me, is that autonomous vehicles seem to be coming whether we like it or not and, while completely and almost laughably oversimplified, some of the thoughts above lead me to think that if embraced correctly self-driving cars, and the infrastructure and legislation surrounding them in the mid-near future, could have very interesting and deep reaching effects on a small island like Tasmania.

The essence of the B&B experience

By Claire van Ryn
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One of the most memorable experiences I’ve had of an old-fashioned Bed & Breakfast was in the lush countryside of southern Ireland. We pulled into the driveway in our rent-a-car (of the smallest, cheapest variety), folded away the map (that’s how long ago this was!) and knocked on the door of a weatherboard farmhouse a stone’s throw from the biggest local attraction: the ruins of Muckross Abbey (think medieval, bluestone castle, albeit with a few bricks missing).

She ushered us into her warm kitchen where we shed a few layers, sat down as directed, and were promptly served homemade apple pie still warm from the oven while her daughter chattered away about the drawings she’d completed that morning, in that glorious Irish lilt.

It was warm, inviting, homely.

The man of the house gave hubby fly-fishing gear and directions to the best spots, and our room, located upstairs, was laden with comforting textures and thoughtful inclusions.

This inadvertently became the benchmark for every B&B we have visited since.

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So when we arrived at the blink-and-you’d-miss-it township of Claude Road beneath Mt Roland, turned down the driveway of Whispering Woods, and were welcomed by Nadine and Matt Scrimgeour, there was an instant whiff of that Irish kitchen so long ago.

The Guest Cabin accommodation is one of a smattering of huts that make up the Scrimgeour’s living quarters and outbuildings. They are positioned around a “village green”, flanked at one end by a meandering creek that eventually connects with the Dasher River.

The cabin is completely self-contained and strikes that balance between homely comfort and boutique thoughtfulness. There is a cloud the size of a king-size bed for sleeping on, a wood heater, and the kitchenette is stocked with the most scrumptious Tasmanian provisions for nibblies at wine-o’clock, and a cooked breakfast the next day. All included in the bill. This was one of my favourite parts. Anvers chocolate, milk poured from a glass bottle, a few wines to choose from (the Nocton pinot noir was delightful), Ashgrove cheese, and a sweet, smokey bacon that we quickly devoured with poached eggs and sourdough for brekky. And there was raw honey.

The Scrimgeours produce their own raw honey under the label Twelve Acre Wood, and one of the many rustic huts on the 12-acre property serves as a farmgate shop, open seasonally on Sundays and Mondays.

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While the cabin invites you to hibernate with fire crackling and wine in hand, it was good to throw on the puffa and stomp around the property’s perimeter, breathing in that bracing country air and craning the neck at the rugged crags of Mt Roland. Which is as epic a mountain as you will get in Tasmania, in my humble opinion. Of course, Cradle Mountain is only 45 minutes away, if you disagree.

We walked with the family’s beautiful Border Collie Apexi at our side, and were later greeted by the friendly sheep Robbie, who nudged our legs and nibbled at our jacket zippers.

It’s the little things that make memories, and distinguish straight accommodation from the warmth of an old-fashioned B&B. Old fashioned in all the right ways. Our Irish B&B benchmark may just have a contender.

www.theguestcabin.com.au
www.twelveacrewood.com.au