Thursday, January 14, 2010

Destination Hobart

On Tuesday, Linda scheduled an appointment with Andrea, her hairdresser and personal alchemist (what else would you call someone who turns silver into gold?). When LK told her it would be her last appointment since we would no longer be living in Sydney, Andrea told her she was pretty sure we would return within a year.

Last night Davy stopped by for a drink, and he told us quite a few people at our old company were also sure we would be back soon enough, once we actually lived in Tasmania and discovered we didn't like it.

It seems some of our Sydney friends are pretty sure we won't like the climate and will be bored by the lack of things to do once we leave the Big Smoke.

If I may paraphrase Darryl Kerrigan in The Castle, "Tell them they're dreaming!"

First, let me address the whole Sydney phobia about Hobart weather. It's too cold, too much rain, too little sun. That would be a problem if it were true, but fortunately for us it is not.

First of all, Sydney is on average about 6 Centigrade or 10 Fahrenheit warmer than Hobart. But that is not cold, folks. Hobart is absolutely balmy compared to the places where we spent our high school years, and we are looking forward to a place that actually makes an attempt to have one season seem a bit different from the one that went before. (And after a day this week in which we both felt ill from the scorching heat, cooler temperatures are actually one of the attractions of our next home.)

Ignore the average temperatures, I can almost hear people say, what about those wickedly cold freezing days in Hobart during the winter. Get ready for this one, all you folks in Vermont, New York and even further north. The coldest temperature ever recorded for Hobart was -2.8 in 1972. But that -2.8 is in Centigrade, which is only 27 Fahrenheit. And for those chipping the ice from your windshields in the morning, Hobart's average low temperature in the winter is in the 40s. Brrrr! (Sydneysiders, that was a sarcastic Brrr.)

Last night Davy told us Hobart is too gray, has too little sun. Funny thing about that perception. On average, Hobart does have fewer hours of sunshine than Sydney (but more than Melbourne, by the way). Interestingly, though, Hobart has more hours of sunshine in the summer than Sydney. Oh, also, Sydney averages TWICE as much rain as Hobart does every year. I guess the sky is always grayer on the other side.

As for the argument that there is too little to do there, well, time will tell. But in recent years we have done nothing in Sydney that is not available in Hobart, as well. In fact, the most active thing we've done here in the past two years is head to the airport to go overseas.

But it is important to stress that Hobart is not a little town. With a population of about 220,000 it is bigger than Rochester, Syracuse, Reno, Spokane, Little Rock, Fort Lauderdale and Chatanooga. Oh yeah, and Rutland, too.

And Hobart does have fun things. It may set a record for the number of festivals it holds - the Soundscape Festival, Hobart Fringe Festival, the Falls Festival and the bulk of the Ten Days on the Island Festival. Makes it seem!

But probably the thing that makes it special is the late December party that celebrates the end of the Hobart from Sydney Yacht Race (and that is what I am calling it from now on). This world-class race starts on Sydney Harbor on December 26 and by 1pm the yachts have gone and folks who went down to see it have to figure out what else to do with their day.

Now I am not putting Sydney down, but from my point of view anyone with the proper outlook on life should have figured out long ago that the place to be is where the race finishes, not where it starts. That's where the party starts.

And indeed the arrival of the racing yachts occurs during the Hobart Summer Festival (of course) which is a food and wine festival that starts after Christmas and ends about three weeks later when the last local resident is no longer able to button their jeans.

But that is the cheerleading bit. Next post, the real reason we won't be coming back to Sydney. Money, naturally.

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