The last time I went to Hobart was in 2008.
I went down with my mate SS after procuring $9.95 fares from Tiger Airways soon after Tiger came into operation. SS and I figured “why not? It’s ten bucks and it’ll be a laugh.” We had heard many tales of beautiful scenery, excellent wines, fresh fish and chips, and a legendary (though sadly defunct) nightclub that had a slippery dip to take you between levels. Additionally we had a bunch of friends who’d lived in Hobart over the years and could recommend a few sights for us to see.
On the first night we went to the Brisbane Hotel. We’d read in what could laughingly be described as “street press” that the venue was celebrating its first birthday. So it was pretty busy — and the DJ was the doppelganger of none other than Richard Schiff (better known as The West Wing‘s Toby Zeigler).
SS and I made the best of it by hitting the piss and the tiles with fervent enthusiasm. We thought it was a bit weird that not a soul spoke to us. The Hobartians, apparently, can smell mainlanders. And DJ Toby Zeigler was not especially amenable to our requests that he play more Springsteen.
I made the observation that many of the locals had a peculiar look about them. They had deep-set skulls, yet bulging eyeballs. It was quite unsettling. (Let it be known that I have several Tasmanian friends and they are all babes, OK. I am not saying ALL Taswegians possess these unsettling features. But I have noticed some common genetic traits.)
At one point, after a few hours on the d-floor, SS went to the bathroom and I went to the bar. I waited for approximately two eternities to get served, and SS was off in the ladies for a rather long time. When SS returned, she said “did it take you this long to get served?”
“Yes,” I replied, and added sarcastically, “how cool’s Hobart?”
At this stage of one the deep-set eye-poppin’ locals tapped me on the shoulder and said, in cold and sinister seriousness: “What did you fucken say?”
“Ummm…” I stammered, “I said, ‘how cool is Hobart?’ Because you know, we only just got here, and I think it’s really beautiful.”
The shoulder tapper, of whose gender I am unsure*, gave me the up-down and sniffed. “Yeah. that’s what you’d fucken wanna be saying” then disappeared into the night.
I asked SS why she’d been in the ladies for approximately 72 years, and she explained that while she was in the queue to use the conveniences, a young lady had rushed into the loos and vomited down an unsuspecting patron’s back. SS wasn’t wearing her cardigan anymore because in a fit of selfless service she had donate it to the poor vomit victim. She’s great like that.
A while later, I chanced a visit to the ladies myself. While I was waiting in the queue, I was verbally accosted by a woman who was in quite a state of indignant outrage.
“Ya know what the farken problem is with Hobart?” she barked.
“Um, not really. I’m from Melbourne.”
“Yeah, well, you wouldn’t farken know. But let me tell ya this: the problem with farken Hobart is there’s no farken amphetamines.”
“Is that right?” I asked with more than a measure of timidity.
“It is farken right, mate. I was just round at me nan’s and was telling her about how you can’t get jack-farken-shit down ‘ere these days. Anyway, Nan gave me some of her Panadeine Forte [pronounced fort] cos she felt sorry for me an’ that. So I went home and drank a bottle of red and smoked some choof, then I made this awesome dinner, of, like chicken, and salmon, and scallops, so I thought I better go but you know what, to be dead farken straight with ya, I’d rather be home watching a DVD!”
But of course.
SS and I did have a lovely visit all told. One day, after eating pies for breakfast from Jackman and McRoss, we were strolling down to the museum and noticed that there was hail falling upon us. “Wow,” I said to SS, “this is the softest hail I’ve ever seen!” The more meteorologically astute/less idiotic among us would have described this as “snow.”
On our last night we were sitting in a cosy local pub just minding our own business and wondering why the Tasmanians had been not-especially-welcoming (read: no-one had hit on us all weekend) when a bloke strolled over and, without making eye contact, flung a coaster on the table with his phone number, and his name in inverted commas. “Col.” Then he left. We didn’t call.
That was the last time I went to Hobart. I’m heading back tomorrow to attend a conference and pay a much-anticipated visit to MONA. I hope to return without being spewed on, snowed on or hit on. Wish me luck!
*Of all the questions I wish to never be asked, “what gender are you?” is chief amongst them.