Category Archives: Australia

Do you know who MONA is?

This BLOG post originally appeared 11/12/11 on our old site with the title “what the heck is MONA”.  MONA is still a great place to visit so we thought we would re-post.  Hopefully we will get to Tasmania again some day soon!

Just a short flight from Melbourne takes you to the island of Tasmania known for the Tasmanian Devil and convicts.

On our first night in the Australian state of Tasmania we stayed at the lovely, modern and somewhat funky Mona Pavillion. Here there are 8 stand alone villa units with either one or two bedrooms as well as a presidential suite facing the River Derwent. From the outside they look somewhat like a space ship.

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From the inside they are right out of a James Bond movie. Each unit is named after Australian artists or architects. We stayed in Walter.

DSC_0393Walter from the outside

DSC_0376Living space in Walter

Each villa faces the harbor providing wonderful views throughout the day. And how could you not have a wonderful view, 3 of the walls are windows. Now i’m not saying they have windows….i’m saying they ARE windows. Full windows with shades that are operated by remote controls on the walls. How cool is that!

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These modernly appointed villas have everything your heart desires including a stocked wine bar, chilling each bottle to its exact prefect drinking temperature! The fridge is stocked with local beers, juices, soft drinks and milk.

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DSC_0392Yes, we had to pull them out to take a photo!

Our unit was a two bedroom, each with it’s own bathroom. And speaking of bathroom! Yeah this is my kind of set up! Oversized Jacuzzi tub with TV on the wall and a remote that if dropped into the water neither electrocutes you and still works!

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The beds, extremely comfortable….you’ll just have to take my word on that and in the morning wake to the wonderful sounds of nature chirping outside. Our bedrooms were tastefully decorated, some had a bit more of the shock factor going on.

DSC_0382Bedroom #1 in Walter

DSC_0435Bedroom #2 in Walter

DSC_0422One of the bedroom’s in the Roy (the largest pavilion)

Each unit is priced differently based upon it’s size but run between $390 – $990 per night based upon 2-4 guests. Plus tax of course. There are full cooking and laundry facilities in each unit.

DSC_0379Kitchen

These pavilions have everything a traveler could want.  As a matter of fact on a placard in the villas it says “we can arrange almost anything legal, just ask”. I’d call that customer service!

So what the heck is MONA?

Well it stands for Museum of Old and New Art. Mona is located just a short 10 minutes outside Hobart, Tasmania and is home to a somewhat shocking if not weird museum, a vineyard, cellar door and wine bar, a brewery, a restaurant, the Pavilion’s and of course a shop.

DSC_0396 Main building

DSC_0447The restaurant

DSC_0448The cellar door

At the cellar door you get a 1 hr. tasting and the admission fee is refunded if you purchase. Wine tours are available for $15.

DSC_0451Of course we tasted…and purchased!

DSC_0475The wine bar and brewery

On Friday and Saturday evenings you can get a 1 hr. beer tour and tasting for $15. They make 4 types of beer and all have no preservatives and are not pasteurized. You got to love the catchy “Moo Beer” name! Wine and beer master classes can be arranged upon request.

DSC_0478Believe it or not, we did not try them all!

As for the museum, lets just say it might not be for everyone as many exhibits are downright shocking and for some would be repulsive.

DSC_0483Museum entry

As the statement goes, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” this pretty much sums the gallery up. The owner, David Walsh aka Glenn Walsh. Tourists not from Tasmania pay $20 for admission, those under 18 are free. Some of the exhibits are sexually explicit, others personally confronting thus the gallery may not be for children.

DSC_0493Plaster molds of a woman’s privates

DSC_0494The white room

DSC_0497The woodpecker (sorry just trying to give you a feel for the museum)

DSC_0517The human digestive system recreated, this woman is actually feeding the machine lunch at 1130am (sandwich, salad, fruit and a drink).  At 200pm it has a bowel movement! We did not hang around for that!!

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Coolest thing in the museum, mummy on the left, xray tomography of it on the right!

So, that is MONA.  Who wants to go?  It really is quite a cool place, definitely 2 or 3 nights are needed.

La Isla Bonita (The Beautiful Island)

We bet you never heard this version of Madonna’s La Isla Bonita.  There is only one place that we know of where you can go see and hear Madonna’s entire greatest hits album “The Immaculate Collection”, performed by a bunch of people singing Karaoke in their individual sound booths.

Can you guess where?

Wineglass to Wine Glass

When we were last in Tasmania we had the wonderful opportunity to take a Wineglass to Wine glass trek.

From the Freycinet Lodge we walk up the Hazard Mountains to the Wineglass bay lookout.  Here we took in spectacular views of the Freycinet Peninsula and the Tasman Sea.  Then we descended down into the bay, tracked across the isthmus to Hazards Beach and then partook in a rather sumptuous meal of local cheeses, fresh seafood , Tasmanian beef and quail, and just a few glasses of Tasmanian wine and beer.

Our trek begins

Our trek begins

The trekkers are ready!  Including our “celebrity” pal (no longer) bachelor Jason Mesnick

Tasman foliage

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Wineglass Bay

Here is a view of Wineglass bay from the lookout

The gang at Wineglass bay Bird 07-Wineglass to wine glass tour 11-2-2011 6-40-43 PM 08-Wineglass to wine glass tour 11-2-2011 6-46-41 PM 09-Wineglass to wine glass tour 11-2-2011 7-27-39 PM

Beautiful view from the beach at Wineglass bay

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Artistic sand shot!

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After we leave the bay to cross the isthmus, we meet a Jill Wallaby with a Joey in the pouch – awesome!

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We’ve been spotted!

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Hazard beach now in sight on the other side of the isthmus.

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Now leaving Hazards Beach and heading towards our feast.

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“the facilities”

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Our personal chef hard at work, also a nice selection of local beer to help us recover from the walk.

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Our dining room!

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What more appropriate start than a bottle of Hazards Ale from Wineglass Bay Brewing!

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Fresh seafood starter

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Working on the Tasmanian beef

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Yum

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View from our dining room

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Cheeses to finish with

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Go find the boat to go home.

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Just a bit rough so we need to use the dinghy

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Feathered friends bidding us adieu.

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We made it – Freycinet Lodge back in sight.

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Life is Uncertain; Take the Trip First.

At the travel agency we receive lots of brochures from suppliers.  Many times I’ll open a packet, store the brochures and toss everything else including the packing material into recycling.  Sometimes I’ll even put the brochures right into recycling bin if it is from a supplier that we don’t really feels works best for our customers.  Oftentimes the brochures include some sort of cover letter which is usually related to telling us what we should know about any new products the supplier has or what highlights we should read in the brochures.  Recently one cover letter caught my attention and I thought I would share.

Kirk Demeter is the president of Down Under Answers (DUA).  As you’d expect with the name Down Under Answers, they specialize in Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific destinations.  Kirk wrote what I feel is an inspiring cover letter to include with their 2013-2014 travel planners.

” As I cast about for positive resolutions for 2013, a bumper sticker came to mind – ‘Life is uncertain; eat dessert first’.  I decided to amend that to – Life is uncertain; take the trip first.

In our business we hear constantly from customers how their trip was ‘life enhancing’, how it fulfilled a long-held dream, how it was so much more than expected.  That it led to new friends, fueled their desire to travel even more and inspired others to travel.

There are always several items on our wish lists, and we all love new toys, but a trip is something that never loses its novelty, no matter how many times we look at the photos, or turn to each other and say ‘remember the day we…’.  Trips don’t sit in the garage or attic gathering dust; they live within us, making us feel good each time we think back.”

Trips certainly do live within us.  Our travel experiences help shape our thoughts, desires and values.  Sometimes on trips we learn grace, sometimes we learn humility, sometimes we even learn that we eat too many desserts when we are not at home!

Which would you remember more fondly 10 years from now, your new 60″ super duper plasma monster TV, or diving off the deck of your over-water bungalow in Fiji?   The TV probably won’t even last 10 years, but the memories of the island will stay with you forever.  I agree –  Life is uncertain; take the trip first.

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Wine, Devils & Luxury

Despite the stuffy head and congestion (yep, that time of year), we’ve spent a little bit of time this weekend freshening up the website.  It may only be the cold medication talking but we do think we’ve come up with some interesting stuff.

This is it!  You can barely see the "open" signA whole new section is under development detailing some of the many wineries we’ve traveled to around the globe.  While only a small handful are listed now, stay tuned, there is much more to come.  You can browse all of them here.  Of course you also don’t want to miss our recent blog on “The Greatest Winery You Never Heard Of”.

08-Mona Tasmania 11-1-2011 5-41-48 PMOne of the most fascinating wineries we’ve seen anywhere in the world is actually a museum.  If you enjoy world-class museums and world-class wine, then MONA needs to be on your list of places to go.  Located in Tasmania, MONA is a worthwhile destination even if you have to spend all day/night on a coach fare plane seat to get there.  Bring us back a bottle of any of the Moorilla series if you do go.  Oh and don’t forget the Moo Brew.

Coles Bay Tasmania

Well as long as you’ve made the trip to Tasmania, why not treat yourself to a stay at the Saffire Freycinet Resort overlooking pristine Coles Bay.  It’s a long journey and you deserve just a bit of pampering.  With architecture that fully connects the resort to its surroundings and  so much to see, do and experience you may never want to leave.

 

Of course no trip to Tasmania would be complete without seeing some devils.  Endangered in the wild, one of the best places to see them is at the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary.  It is not a zoo, but a rehabilitation center for wild animals.

Oh and lest we forget, we do know just the perfect boutique travel agency that can help you put the whole amazing journey together.