Point to Pinnacle: D-day

322 days ago, on 31 December 2017,  I posted a photo of kunanyi from near the bottom of the university with the caption, “One day, Mountain, I will walk to your summit”.IMG_8514

Today, I did it.

I didn’t specifically have the Point to Pinnacle in mind when I posted that photo and I didn’t have a time frame for doing it. It was just in the back of my mind as a “someday” thing.

When I signed up for the Point to Pinnacle in August I had every intention of following a training plan leading up to the event, doing lots of hill walks and feeling completely prepared to do the walk. I didn’t stick to the plan, I didn’t do lots of hill walks and, in the past month, have done very few morning walks at all. For someone who normally walks every day, I’ve found my lack of motivation very unusual and out of character, especially leading up to a 21.1 km walk up a 1270 metre high mountain.

So I didn’t feel prepared and was not-so-secretly worried that I wasn’t going to make it. There’s a time limit of 4 hours 40 minutes for the walk and I wasn’t at all confident about my hill-readiness. However, I’d signed up, I’d told people I was doing it and I’d found someone I knew a couple of days ago who said she’d walk with me. I was going ahead with it.

When I got to the casino, I could see the top of kunanyi was shrouded in mist and it seemed so far away. How was I going to do this? I’ve wondered this every time I’ve walked along Sandy Bay Road and looked up there. How is this possible?

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I’m walking up there???

The reported temperature on the summit was “feels like minus three”. I packed a jacket and gloves in my gear bag, which the bus takes to the top so the participants don’t have to carry stuff they don’t need on the walk (or run).

The walk started at 7am, after a warm-up and briefing. I have no idea how many walkers there were but there were a lot and I was in the middle of a huge pack of people trying to make their way as quickly and efficiently as is possible for a huge pack of people to get through a not-very-wide timing arch. It was happening. I was doing it.

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Getting ready to go

I caught up with my friend along Sandy Bay Road and we kept up a steady pace as we made our way to Davey Street. I felt a bit (not) sorry for the cars who hadn’t gotten to the Southern Outlet before it closed and were banking up along the road. I have no idea what happens in these situations; whether they let people through when there are gaps in the packs or if the cars just have to stay there until the roads reopen.

The walk was just as I remembered it from two months ago but without the cars and the fear that I could be run off the road at any time by a driver who wasn’t paying attention. This was definitely the way to do it! Allowing for the congestion at the start, which slows things down a bit, my revised goal was to get to the turnoff to kunanyi in one hour 45. We did the 9.7 km in one hour 48, leaving two hours 52 to do the final 11.4 km. We were both confident of making it, but the hill was the unknown. I knew I could easily walk 11 km in three hours. On the flat. But the lack of hill training was scaring me.

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On the run photo of reaching the turn-off

There was only one way to find out!

Not far up the road, we were informed we’d passed the half-way point, and soon came to a 10km sign. I initially thought it meant we’d walked 10 km, which made no sense if we’d already passed half-way, but my friend pointed out that this was actually 10 km to go. Ohhhhh. I’m not at my brightest in the morning. We were walking through the mist we could see from the bottom and it kept it very cool and was nice conditions for walking in.

I was grateful for the bathrooms at the Springs because I needed a break and told my friend to keep going rather than wait and I’d catch her up because her pace was a bit slower than mine. I power marched up the hill to catch her. She’d said a couple of times that if I wanted to go on ahead to go because she was slower. I felt bad leaving but she said she didn’t mind and I hadn’t actually factored doing this with anyone else when I was planning, so I said if that was okay I’d see her at the top. And continued my power march.

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Brief photo stop

Six km to go and it was nearly 10.00. Three hours in, one hour 40 to go. At my normal pace, I would easily do six km in an hour. On the flat. For some reason, my lack-of-sleep addled brain thought that this meant I should be able to cover a kilometre in six minutes and I was expecting the five km sign in six minutes. I was very put out when it took just over ten. I finally clicked to the actual rate I was walking and set myself a goal of the final five km 50 minutes.  Every time I saw one of the red signs I was a little bit more relieved. The mist had gone in one spot and we were walking in bright sunshine for a brief period, but that was short-lived and the rest of the ascent was in mist. Much better for walking.

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The mist and the not-mist

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A brief sunny spell before the mist again

I was a bit horrified at thinking I was nearly there, and then seeing the last big turn in the road to the pinnacle and OMG people walking up there!

Finally, there was one km to go and the end was in sight. I got a bit muddled as to where the finish line was and I was trying to take photos as well as look glamorous for the race photographer and I’m sure the photo of me crossing the line will be me trying to work out why my video wasn’t working. Ha!

It was great crossing the finish line with all the people standing there cheering and, because the race bibs have your name on them, they’re calling out encouragement especially for you! What a way to end. I had the biggest smile on my face and was so happy to have made it to the top. I didn’t feel like I was going to collapse in a heap like I’d expected! I felt like it had been a nice, somewhat more strenuous but not impossibly so, walk than some of my usual Sunday walks. It certainly hadn’t justified the fear I’d felt before the event. My final time was four hours, two minutes, which, if you subtract the toilet break, would have been under than four hours.

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Thank you, unknown person, for taking my photo

I never thought I would do it in that time and I have a niggling thought that maybe, just maybe, I might want to go back and do it again next year so I can break the four hours.

I have 12 months to talk myself out of it!

On the way back down on the bus with my friend, who also made it in the time limit, yay!, we commented on how it seemed so unreal that we had walked up there. Back at the casino, looking up where we had been, it was like it had never happened.

I suspect my legs will tell a different story tomorrow.

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Point to Pinnacle: Mount Nelson

My training for the Point to Pinnacle has basically been non-existent for the last three weeks. I have really struggled to get out of bed in the mornings and I’ve been lucky if I’ve managed more than one walk a week.

This is Not Good when the event is on IN TWO WEEKS!

I can blame going on holidays and not being able to get back into the habit of walking, but I walked every day of the holidays. I don’t know what has caused my reluctance to walk, because I usually have no problem at all, but whatever it is, it’s my responsibility to fix it. If I don’t make it to the top of the mountain because I didn’t train enough it’s entirely my fault.

Anyway, what’s done is done and I can’t get those three weeks back, so I have to make the most of the two weeks I have left and strike a balance between getting some km in and not overdoing it so I’m not exhausted on event day.

If you’ve been following the story so far, you’ll know that I walked to the Mount Nelson Signal Station on the Truganini Track way back in August. Today I decided to go there again but this time to take the road. After all, I’ll be walking up a road in the Point to Pinnacle so it made sense to walk up a smaller mountain in similar conditions. Okay, at 352 metres, it’s nowhere near as high as the 1270 metres I’ll be walking up IN TWO WEEKS. But it’s better than no hill.

To get to Mount Nelson, you need to find Nelson Road, which turns off Sandy Bay Road and dog legs across Churchill Avenue. I decided to take it easy, so I took my camera with me and walked the scenic route along Churchill Avenue. It took me about an hour and a half, with a few photo stops, to walk the almost 8 km to the Nelson Road turn off.IMG_7801

Nelson Road is known for its bends, and I had no idea how far it was to the top or how long it would take. When you get to Bend 3, there’s access to a footpath that shortcuts up to Bend 7. While that would have been a whole lot quicker, and most likely safer too, since there was very little in the way of footpath on the road, the point was to have as long a walk as possible, so that would have been cheating, I think.IMG_7802

The road it was. It was a nice walk with lots of lovely houses to look at, though most of them were hidden behind trees. I was overtaken by a couple of cyclists also on the way up, some dog walkers on the way down and mercifully few cars. This was a lot more civilised than the 70km/h road to Fern Tree.

I wasn’t sure how many bends there were. I thought it was eight, and the distance between them seemed to increase between each bend. At Bend 7 is the Bend 7 Reservoir, which is fenced off and accessible to “Authorised personnel only”.  IMG_7805

That’s not me, so I kept going. I’m not sure if there is a Bend 8, but eventually, I made it to the top of Nelson Road, where it joins Olinda Grove. That was almost four km from the Churchill Avenue turn off and it took me a bit under 50 minutes. After that, I wasn’t sure how to get to the Signal Station. There was one sign pointing me in the direction that Nelson Road continued, so on I went.

The further I went, the more it started to feel like I was in the middle of the country. I had no idea where I was going or if I’d missed a turn to the Signal Station. I felt like I’d been walking forever. I could have checked a map but figured I wasn’t exactly going to get lost, and that the road would have to end-somewhere-eventually. And it did, a bit more than two km along the road.

It felt longer.

Total distance: 14.29km, time: two hours 47 minutes (with several pauses).IMG_7820_2According to Discover Tasmania

The signal station was built in 1811 and was the first of a chain of signal stations that once linked Hobart Town with Port Arthur. A short message from Hobart to Port Arthur and return reply could be completed in approximately fifteen minutes – under clear conditions.

The closure of the station on Mount Nelson came with the arrival of the telegraph in 1880.

There are great panoramic views of Hobart and the Derwent from here and one thing I really noticed was how much the Grand Chancellor stands out in the city. I had some fun taking photos of the Signal Station and eventually decided I could go no longer without coffee. Fortunately, there’s a coffee shop.IMG_7828_2There’s a track leading down from one of the lookout points that takes you to Sandy Bay, so I thought it would be fun to see where that went. It leads through Bicentennial Park, which is described as

A downhill walk, the first half of which is through open forest with views of the city, whilst the second half is amongst wetter forest.

From the historic Mt Nelson Signal Station the track descends gently downhill as it winds pleasantly through open forest. This section of track receives good sun making it an ideal choice for a winter walk. Dogs on lead are permitted as far as the Enterprise Road junction.

The track grade then becomes steeper and the forest increasingly shady and damp. After crossing Lambert Rivulet the creek is followed downstream to Lambert Avenue.

It was an interesting walk because, although I knew I wasn’t very far from civilisation, it felt very deserted. Especially when I got to the point where the track forked into two and the signpost had been knocked over and there was only an arrow pointing in one direction.

I could see Mt Wellington on my left and kept freaking out that I was going to be walking up there IN TWO WEEKS. Whilever the track was still formed, I felt relatively secure that I was still going the right way, even though there were times I felt like I should be dropping breadcrumbs. There were lots of stony steps but absolutely no indication of where I was. The backs of houses came into view, which left me none the wiser.IMG_4131

Eventually, I got to a sign that mentioned the contribution of Dr DJ Walters in the development of Lambert Park and, not much further on, I emerged at Churchill Avenue, just a short distance from the Nelson Road turnoff I’d taken earlier in the morning. I didn’t track that section of the walk so I have no idea how long it took or how far it was but based on the metadata on my photos, I reckon it took me about an hour.

So, that was a great Sunday morning adventure and probably the last big walk I’ll do before the Point to Pinnacle, which is IN TWO WEEKS. I know I have let myself down over the last three weeks and I’m not happy about that, but I also know I’m not going to get super-fit within the next two weeks. I’m going to stay as active as I can and give it my very best shot.

Point to Pinnacle: Fern Tree

Sunday 23 September (57 days to go)

Today’s plan was to walk to Fern Tree to see if I have any chance of completing the Point to Pinnacle in 57 days time . . . The official race guidelines say all competitors have to have passed the kunanyi turnoff by 9:40 am, which means you have two hours 40 minutes to get there from Wrest Point. By my calculations it’s about 10 km, which should be walkable in about two hours, leaving two hours 40 minutes to do the 11 km up the mountain.

That seems to be cutting it a bit fine, since the mountain is uphill all the way, so I think the goal to the turn off should be less than two hours to that point to give me longer to get up the mountain.

My first question before I set out was whether to take my raincoat or my camera because I couldn’t fit both in my new tiny walking backpack. The raincoat won because rain was forecast and I wasn’t going to do this walk to take photos. I can do that another day. It proved to be the right choice because it started raining not more than 20 minutes from home. Also, it’s bright red, giving me a better chance of being seen by manic car drivers along the more dodgy bits of the road.

The first stage of the walk was getting to Wrest Point, the start of the event. This is about seven km from my house and takes a bit over an hour. It’s not a challenging walk.

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Home to Casino: 1:11:43 for 7.13 km.

That was just to get to the starting point.

Wrest Point to the Southern Outlet along Davey Street was 2.3 km and that took 23:09. That was a perfect pace, I think.

After that, the course begins to get more hilly as Davey Street becomes Huon Road. I was a bit worried about this stage because I hadn’t done much hill walking up to this point and I remember driving up it and thinking it would be hard work.

The first section was probably the hardest and I was wondering why I had signed up for this. I decided to look at the beautiful houses and make some plans to come back later and take some photos. There are some gorgeous places there that I never knew about. That made the walk slightly less painful.

After a bit of a climb, it became a lot gentler slope and easier walking. The main thing I was afraid of when I realised this wasn’t a hill that was going to kill me was the cars. You get to a point where the footpath ends and the speed limit goes up to 70km/h. I felt not the safest I’d ever felt and was glad of the red raincoat and the red backpack giving me, I hoped, a reasonable chance of being seen.

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Wellington Park

It wasn’t too bad of a walk and felt easier than some of the other hills I’ve walked. I don’t know if it was really flatter or if the bush air was making me feel more energised. There was intermittent rain and not rain, so again, grateful for the raincoat decision, but it didn’t get overly windy or cold. My feet did get wet and my new shoes are covered in mud.

Note to self: pack spare shoes, socks, a jacket, a beanie and another pair of walking pants into your gear bag for the event.

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Getting closer.

It’s not a walk I’m overly keen to repeat when the road’s open though. It’s not designed for pedestrians and there are parts where the shoulder is really narrow. A couple of times I walked on the wrong side of the road because there was hardly any gap between the road and the rockface, and my thinking was if there was a rogue car I’d have a better chance of living if I rolled down the hill on the other side than if I got crushed against the rockface. How cheerful.

Of course, that didn’t happen and I was mighty relieved to see the sign telling me the turnoff to kunanyi was only 100 metres away. Time to the turnoff: 2:51:40 from when I left home, 1:39:57 from the Casino, distance 16.71 km from home, 9.58 km from the Casino.

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Made it!

If I can hold that pace on event day, 1:40, that will leave me three hours to cover the 11.5 km to the top of the mountain. I’m starting to think it might be possible. When I got to the turnoff I wasn’t sure what to do. I felt like I could keep going but I had a commitment in town that involved someone coming to get me because of the woeful bus service and I wouldn’t have had enough time to walk back down again. So I walked for a few more minutes up the mountain road, dodging cars and, once it started raining, I decided I really didn’t want to be outside any more and headed for the pub with its log fire and coffee.

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Poor new shoes

Total distance: 17.82km, total time 3:03:54.

Tomorrow is a rest day.

Point to Pinnacle: Truganini Track

Sunday 12 August (97 days to go)

Not far from my house is the Truganini Track, which is a 2.1 km medium grade bush walk from the Cartwright Reserve on Sandy Bay Road up to the Mt Nelson Signal Station, an elevation of 350 metres. Ever since I found out it was there, I’d wanted to walk it and I put it on my list of things I was going to do this year.

Lils Sis said she’d do it with me, so we booked in a day to do it and I was ready. Then on Thursday, she pulled out because she wasn’t feeling well. I was already committed so I decided to do it by myself. I need to get some hill walks in before the Point to Pinnacle and I thought this would be a good test of my ability.

For some reason, I’d thought it was a two-hour one-way walk so I thought I’d need a whole morning to do it and that I’d get there in time to have coffee and get Slabs to come and pick me up late morning.

I didn’t want to get out of bed this morning, but as I was trying to talk myself into getting up I realised I didn’t need to leave until it was light. It would have been stupid to go on a bushwalk in the dark! So I left home at about 7.00 am. The first part of the walk was easy, along the main road to the start of the track. Then the proper walk began. 

The forest was very thick almost from the very start but the first thing I noticed was that I could hear chickens, so even though I was surrounded by forest and couldn’t see any houses, I could tell I was very close to civilisation.

According to Tastrails this is wet sclerophyll forest and this section “can often be quite muddy after wet weather”. I can confirm this is 100 per cent true. It was very muddy and slippery and I learned from experience that cutting grass is not a good thing to hold onto if you think you’re about to fall.20180812 Truganini Track 06 edit copy It occurred to me after that incident that I didn’t have a first aid kit and I had no plan for what I’d do if I actually injured myself on this track. I was fairly confident that wouldn’t happen but you hear all these stories about underprepared bushwalkers getting lost and having to have Search & Rescue come and look for them and I was doing this walk alone on a track I didn’t know and . . . Barb, the track is two kilometres. You are no more than a kilometre from a main road wherever you are. There are relatively new looking footprints on the track; people probably come through here every day. You have a phone; you aren’t in the wilderness. If anything happens someone will find you pretty quickly.20180812 Truganini Track 07 edit copyOkay, that sorted I carried on. It’s definitely not an easy climb. Apart from the slipperiness, many of the steps are big, especially for someone with short legs like me, so climbing was awkward. It was also rocky underfoot, so not the most comfortable walk.20180812 Truganini Track 10 edit copy As you continue on the walk, the forest changes to dry sclerophyll and you can start to see glimpses of the river between the trees. You can see that you’ve climbed a long way (if you weren’t already feeling it in your legs and your breath).20180812 Truganini Track 11 edit copyAs I got closer to the top, I noticed a structure and realised I was back near civilisation. I have no idea what this was, but the track started to flatten out. 20180812 Truganini Track 12 edit copyI came across the Truganini Memorial, which is dedicated to the Tasmanian Aboriginal people and their descendants. This was very simple and moving. I realised I was at the end and it had taken me less than an hour to complete the climb. It was only just 8.30 and the coffee shop wouldn’t open for another 30 minutes. There wasn’t a lot to see. The view wasn’t very clear. I took a couple of photos but they weren’t very good because the sky was misty.

I was glad to have made it to the top and ticked this trail off my list. It was a nice, challenging Sunday morning walk.

Point to Pinnacle part 1

A backlog of posts about my Point to Pinnacle experience, being a not overly fit, desk-bound, not-getting-any-younger casual walker. 

27 July 2018

I like to walk. I go for a 20-minute walk every morning and aim to walk at least 12,000 steps every day.

Occasionally, I sign up for organised walks like the City to Casino Fun Run (and Walk) and have participated in CARE Australia’s Walk in Her Shoes challenge, which is a walking challenge to raise funds for CARE’s work with women in developing countries.

These have all been reasonably gentle events that haven’t been overly physically challenging for me.

However, there is one event that I’ve thought about participating in for several years and never made the commitment to because it’s beyond the next level for me.

The Point to Pinnacle is described as:

the toughest half-marathon in the world, and for good reason, with just over 1270m of ascending, gradients above 10% and extreme changes in climate and weather conditions. The event is a challenge of the human spirit and allows people of all ages and abilities to be involved through our walk or run. It is now one of Tasmania’s iconic events that draws many people from interstate and internationally each year. (2018 Point to Pinnacle Event Book)

The course starts at Wrest Point Car Park and goes for 21.1 km to the pinnacle of kunanyi/Mount Wellington.

I was walking with a friend in the City to Casino earlier this year and mentioned I was considering entering this event. I said that I’d thought about it but never done it. She said something along the lines of, you don’t do it by thinking about it. She had a point, and I thought maybe this would be the year I’d do it. But I wasn’t sure.

Fast forward to today and I had to see the HR guy who had coordinated my work’s participation in the City to Casino. I had to return a shirt that my sister had refused to wear. (I don’t blame her; they were most unflattering). I handed the shirt back, he thanked me and I wondered for a brief second if I should go back to my desk or if I should say something about how much I had enjoyed participating in the race and how good it was for work to be supporting things like this.

I did neither.

“I’m going to do the Point to Pinnacle,” I blurted out.

Brain-mouth disconnect. Why would I tell anyone that?

He looked at me in what I can only describe as horror*.

“I could never do that,” he said. This from a guy who is, I imagine, because he ran the City to Casino, fairly fit.

Instant fear struck my heart. If a fit, young(er than me) guy said he wouldn’t attempt it, what in hell made me think I could do it? Up until then, I’d imagined it would be difficult (because hills) but not overly impossible for someone with my level of fitness to do. I know people who have done it and haven’t died, so I know it’s possible. I semi-regularly do 10 km walks so I know I’m not entirely unfit. However, this is double that distance and involves a mountain. It’s not exactly the same thing.

“I’m walking it,” I said.

I don’t think that needed to be said. A quick glance at my physique would tell anyone I’m not a runner, let alone a runner who runs 20 km up mountains.

“Yes,” he said.

“Well I look at it like this,” I continued because I’d got myself into this conversation and now I had to end it. “It’s in about three months, so if I sign up, I’ve committed and I have to do it so I’ll have to train for it. There won’t be any getting out of it.”

“Yeah,” he said, looking less than convinced.

I am now doubting myself bigtime. Is it going to be a hell of a lot harder than I had thought? Am I completely crazy to think I can do this?

Registrations open next week. I have set a reminder to sign up. Am I going to do this? Am I going to let someone else’s reaction stop me?

No, I am not. I’ll never know if I can do it unless I try. I have enough time to prepare. I’m committed and I’m doing it.

 

*HR guy’s reaction may be slightly overstated for dramatic effect.

Hanging out at TMAG

Today was the last day of the school holidays. Kramstable and I went to the Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery (TMAG).

We started out in the Bond Store and looked at the Tasmanian displays. Kramstable pointed out the Tasmanian Native Hen, which he had done a project on at school recently.

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Tasmanian Native Hen

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Learning about weights and measures

I was especially taken by the exhibition that was there for Dark Mofo called A Journey to Freedom

A Journey to Freedom is a new contemporary art exhibition guest curated by Swiss curator Barbara Polla together with Olivier Varenne and Mary Knights.

A Journey to Freedom explores issues relating to incarceration from a range of different cultural and historical perspectives: from Tasmania’s dark convict past; to ‘doing time’ in the notorious “Pink Palace” Risdon Prison; and the experience of refugees held in camps and detention centres in Australia and beyond.

The exhibition brings together new and recent works by contemporary national and international artists working across installation, sculpture, video, photography and virtual reality with works to be presented across the museum’s temporary galleries and transitional spaces.

International artists include Janet Biggs, Nicolas Daubanes, Mounir Fatmi, Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, Ali Kazma, Rachel Labastie, Robert Montgomery, Jean-Michel Pancin and Jhafis Quintero. Australian artists include Shaun Gladwell, Sam Wallman and well-known Tasmanian Ricky Maynard.

Shaun Gladwell’s virtual reality work Orbital vanitas will be presented in TMAG’s Central Gallery, providing visitors with an immersive experience of being placed inside an enormous skull that is orbiting the earth.

A Journey to Freedom is presented by Dark Mofo, Mona and the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG).

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A Journey to Freedom

The exhibits are scattered around TMAG and we didn’t see all of it but what I did see was thought-provoking and interesting.

I found the work by Ali Kazma on the structures in which people are incarcerated interesting and powerful. “Although nobody appears in the footage, the bleak brutality of the architecture and the constraints placed on the freedom of inmates is evident.”

There was also work by Jhafis Quintero, who had been in prison for ten years and had discovered art as a way of channelling the energy that had led him to crime. His exhibit was ten videos, each representing a year in prison. This was in the basement of the Bond Store building, which is dark with a low roof and has a very claustrophobic atmosphere that matched these two exhibits perfectly.

One work that was particularly interesting was “Prohibition” by Nicolas Daubanes, which is a collection of hundreds of litres of “hooch” he has brewed using prison recipes, using materials readily available in prison—plastic bottles, water, fruit, condoms and yeast. I wonder what MONA will do with this after the exhibition is over.

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Prohibition

Nicolas Daubanes’ iron filing picture of the Isle of the Dead at Port Arthur was also intriguing, despite the smeary hand mark that an over-enthusiastic visitor had, unfortunately, made on it. The TMAG staff member on duty said it had been interesting to watch the picture being made, but he wasn’t sure what would happen to it after the exhibit finishes.

We couldn’t see the virtual reality exhibit “Orbital vanitas” as you have to be 13 to see it and Kramstable was too young, so I’m going to have to go back to see that by myself. Actually, I want to go and see the whole thing again, take my time and absorb it more fully.

The 20th Century Tasmanian gallery is always one of my favourites and something different catches my eye every time I’m in there. This time it was the Hydro-Electric Department poster, which was fitting because of our recent visit to Lake Pedder and the Gordon Dam (more posts on that are coming).

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The Hydro-Electric Department

We spent a bit of time at the Antarctic exhibit and I learned something in the currency exhibit: In 1966 when Australia introduced decimal currency there was no $5 note. That didn’t come until 1967.

I always enjoy visiting TMAG and am glad we have such a great space in our city.