We allowed ourselves an easy start today. The first scheduled activity was a visit to the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) and for that we had agreed on getting the 11:00 am ferry with time for coffee before. That required a 10:00 am departure to stroll down to the harbour.
Despite that, I was awake at 6:00 am and tinkering with photos after a quick shower. The rest were soon awake. After breakfast Majella and Norma did some laundry and we otherwise relaxed until 10:00 am when we headed off to the harbour. It was a bright and virtually cloudless morning so we had a clear view of Mount Wellington – the conditions we would have preferred yesterday but that was history.
Expecting the public holiday would bring out a crowd, we bought tickets for the ferry and MONA entry before getting coffee. We had time to relax over the coffee before joining the queue to board for the 30 minute ride to MONA. On the way out of the dock we passed the Golden Princess cruise ship and its squadron of lifeboats conducting a drill on the water near the ship.
The entrance to MONA from the dock features a stairway with about 100 steps. Majella, Michael, Maria and I made our way up those but the others opted for the alternative entry via a second jetty and ride up the hill in a golf buggy. Entry to MONA was smooth and we enjoyed the water feature forming words near the entrance to the gallery. None of us was impressed with the Gilbert and George exhibit. Most of us thought it neither art nor humorous, except in the way that early adolescent boys’ toilet humour is funny. we passed it by as quickly as possible and moved on to other exhibits.
There was plenty to see, especially for those visiting for the first time, and we extended our original finish time by 30 minutes to 1:30 pm when we met and ate lunch in the cafeteria. Reactions were mixed but most had found at least something of interest. We looked around some more after lunch and caught the 3:00 pm ferry back to the city. On the way back we passed one of the Regatta Day yacht races with a couple of dozen yachts flying colourful spinnakers.
Majella and I left the others at Salamanca Place to enjoy afternoon coffee while we walked back to collect our van. We picked them up and headed to the Botanical Gardens. The volunteer who greeted us there had fun making digs at the visitors from the North Island but did give us some good tips on what to see in the short time we had. We checked out the juvenile (35 y o) Huon pine, the sub-antarctic plants kept in a chilled enclosure, and the Japanese Gardens as key features and saw numerous other interesting plants along the way.
Our target for dinner was the Hope and Anchor, Australia’s oldest hotel, which had been recommended as a good place to eat. Their kitchen was closed for the public holiday so they pointed us to Hogsbreath Cafe where we ate an early dinner.
After that it was back to the apartments for Majella’s briefing about tomorrow and a rest before the final activity for the day. At 8:40 pm Albions, Bourkes, Mauchs and Warwick headed off to the 9:00 pm Penitentiary Chapel ghost tour. Our guide was full of creepy tales and a variety of surprises as we wandered through the darkened building, including the tunnels used to convey prisoners, the isolation cells, and gallows. It was entertaining but did make for a later night. It was close to 11:00 pm when we made it home.