Tasmania’s Stories

Let's get on the 'shopping trolley'

Edition 186_Fender Katsalidis dynamic HoMo concept

Want to knock their socks off again? Why not cut a chunk off the iconic Golden Gate Bridge design, turn it upside down and suspend it over the River Derwent?

Throw in lots of glass. Put 172 rooms inside it, along with a 1,000-person conference facility and call it MoHo, the MONA Hotel. No, better still, call it HoMo.

Yair, that'd pull them in from all around the world, wouldn't it!

That'd keep them talking about Tasmania.

Brand Tasmania has never glimpsed a meeting of the MONA think tank, but we can't help speculating.

David Walsh and his amazing architects, Fender Katsalidis, have done it again – if only in concept terms so far.

What a sight HoMo would be from an approaching boat on the river!

How long would it take to become as familiar on the world stage as the Golden Gate Bridge itself, or the Statue of Liberty, or the Sydney Opera House?

HoMo would be painted the same burnished colour as the Golden Gate Bridge.

It would also house a 1,075-seat theatre, a three-level circular library and a spa treatment centre as part of a $300 million add-on to the museum complex up the river from Hobart.

Well, $300 million is the starting estimate.

HoMo is due to open by MONA’s 11th anniversary in January 2022.

Mr Walsh told a tourism industry lunch at MONA in July that the building had been designed to stand out visually in a way the original museum didn’t because it needed to tap into new markets.

“In the case of the museum, I didn’t want it to be a beacon,” he said.

“With a hotel, that’s different. It’s a marketing exercise. I want to market the city.

"We decided to make that declaration and paint our version of the Golden Gate Bridge international orange for the same reason. The decision was made with the Golden Gate Bridge to make it a beacon. That’s what I want to do.”

At present, MONA draws about 260,000 visitors a year to Tasmania and that number could be multiplied by tapping into the business and conference markets the museum and entertainment complex has not yet been able to reach.

HoMo's hotel rooms will be able to sit above the theatre without suffering reverberations because the top seven floors will be suspended from a giant truss and not touch the lower floors.

Mr Walsh explained: “You can’t usually build a theatre inside a building because when it shakes, the whole building shakes.

“But because this is a bridge, the top seven floors are suspended from above, and the bottom three floors are built from below.

"They’re not connected to each other – there’s no [noise] transmission. It’s the best idea anyone ever had. And it wasn’t mine!”

Take a bow, architectural leader Nonda Katsalidis.

The plan has yet to be submitted to the Glenorchy City Council for planning permission and is sited close to a wastewater treatment plant that stymied earlier plans by Mr Walsh to add a neighbouring caravan park to MONA.

Mr Walsh said his solution would be to re-engineer the council's plant, so that it could be green enough to produce potable water that would supply the hotel.

The State Government is watching and could bypass the council if necessary, by declaring HoMo a project of state significance.

HoMo will create 300 jobs during three years of construction and 120 on-going jobs once opened.

MONA's existing ferry terminal will be integrated with the hotel entry, so visitors can go from boat to room.

A second Mona Roma ferry is being commissioned in readiness for the hotel's opening.

HoMo and its associated works are separate from a project underway at MONA to build an extension to house four purpose-built installations by American artist-in-light James Turrell, as well as other works.

Mr Walsh also told luncheon guests of his plans to open Monaco, a high-limit, private, members-only, poker machine-free casino that would not be open to Tasmanians.

Monaco depends on politically tricky State licensing decisions.

Mr Walsh also has plans for a 17-room, $2,000-a-night boutique hotel at Marion Bay on the east coast.

“It's very simple really; we like building stuff," Mr Walsh told his guests.

"So far it has gone pretty well for us, and hopefully also for our communities.

“This time, some may think it's gotten a little out of hand – the excavation alone is more than four times the size of that for the museum – but we seem to have some support.

"The plans have turned out pretty well, and we can't rest on our laurels forever. The heart of MONA is chance.”

Social media critics were quick to suggest the HoMo design resembled a shopping trolley.

Like the concept itself, that is likely to have on-going traction.

Image courtesy of MONA

29 July 2017, Edition 186

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Facts about Tasmania


Tasmania is the southernmost state of Australia, located at latitude 40° south and longitude 144° east and separated from the continent by Bass Strait. It is a group of 334 islands, with the main island being 315 km (180 miles) from west to east and 286 km (175 miles) north to south.


Tasmanians are resourceful and innovative people, committed to a continually expanding export sector. In 2012-13, international exports from the state totalled $3.04 billion. USA, China, Taiwan, India, Japan and other Asian countries account for the bulk of exports, with goods and services also exported to Europe and many other regions.


Tasmania is similar in size to the Republic of Ireland or Sri Lanka. The Tasmanian islands have a combined coastline of more than 3,000 km.


The main island has a land area of 62,409 sq km (24,096 sq miles) and the minor islands, taken together, total only 6 per cent of the main island's land area. The biggest islands are Flinders (1,374 sq km/539 sq miles), King, Cape Barren, Bruny and Macquarie Islands.


About 250km (150 miles) separates Tasmania’s main island from continental Australia. The Kent Group of Islands, one of the most northerly parts of the state, is only 55km (34 miles) from the coast of the Australian continent.


Twice named 'Best Temperate Island in the World' by international travel magazine Conde Nast Traveler, Tasmania has a mild, temperate maritime climate, with four distinct seasons.


In summer (December to February) the average maximum temperature is 21° Celsius (70° Fahrenheit). In winter (June to August) the average maximum is 12° C (52° F) and the average minimum is 4° C (40° F). Snow often falls in the highlands, but is rarely experienced in more settled areas.

Annual Rainfall

Tasmania’s west coast is one of the wettest places in the world, but the eastern part of the State lives in a rain-shadow. Hobart, the second-driest capital city in Australia, receives about half as much rain as Sydney.

Annual Rainfall

Annual rainfall in the west is 2,400 mm (95 inches), but hardy locals insist there is no such thing as bad weather, only inadequate clothing. If you travel 120 km east to Hobart, you experience a much drier average of 626 mm (24 inches) a year.


The 512,875-strong community spreads itself across the land; less urbanised than the population of any other Australian state. Hobart, the capital city, is home to more than 212,000 people.

Capital City

Hobart nestles at the foot of Mt Wellington (1,270 m / 4,000 ft) and overlooks the Derwent Estuary, where pods of dolphins and migrating whales are sometimes seen from nearby beaches. Surrounded by thickly forested rolling hills, the city is home to the state parliament and the main campus of the University of Tasmania.

Capital City

Its historic centre features Georgian and Regency buildings from colonial times. Hobart is home port for coastal fishing boats, Antarctic expeditions and vessels that fish the Southern Ocean.

Land Formation

Mountain ranges in the south-west date back 1,000 million years. Ancient sediments were deeply buried, folded and heated under enormous pressure to form schists and glistening white quartzites.

Land Formation

In the south-west and central highlands, dolerite caps many mountains, including Precipitous Bluff and Tasmania's highest peak, Mt Ossa (1617 m / 5300 ft). More than 42 per cent of Tasmania is World Heritage Area, national park and marine or forest reserves.


Vegetation is diverse, from alpine heathlands and tall open eucalypt forests to areas of temperate rainforests and moorlands, known as buttongrass plains. Many plants are unique to Tasmania and the ancestors of some species grew on the ancient super-continent, Gondwana, before it broke up 50 million years ago.


Unique native conifers include slow-growing Huon pines, with one specimen on Mt Read estimated to be up to 10,000 years old. Lomatia tasmanica, commonly known as King's holly, is a self-cloning shrub that may well be the oldest living organism on earth. It was discovered in 1937.


Tasmania is the last refuge of several mammals that once roamed the Australian continent. It is the only place to see a Tasmanian devil or eastern quoll (native cat) in the wild and is the best place to see the spotted-tailed quoll (tiger cat), all carnivorous marsupials.


The eastern bettong and the Tasmanian pademelon, both now extinct on the Australian continent, may also be observed.


The Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine, was Australia's largest surviving carnivorous marsupial and is a modern day mystery. The last documented thylacine died in captivity in 1936 and although the animal is considered extinct, unsubstantiated sightings persist.

History and Heritage

Aboriginal people have lived in Tasmania for about 35,000 years, since well before the last Ice Age. They were isolated from the Australian continent about 12,000 years ago, when the seas rose to flood low coastal plains and form Bass Strait.

History and Heritage

Descendants of the original people are part of modern Tasmania's predominantly Anglo-Celtic population.

History and Heritage

Tasmania was originally named Van Dieman’s Land by the Dutch explorer Abel Janszoon Tasman in 1642. The island was settled by the British as a penal colony in 1803 and the original name was associated with the convict era. It was changed to Tasmania when convict transportation stopped in 1853.


A resourceful island culture has generated leading-edge niche industries, from production of high-speed catamaran ferries and marine equipment to lightning-protection technology.


Tasmanians produce winches and windlasses for some of the world's biggest ocean-going pleasure craft; large-scale inflatable evacuation systems and provide specialist outfit-accommodation services to the marine industry.


The Wooden Boat Centre at Shipwrights Point has re-established the skills and traditions of another age and attracts students from around the world.


Tasmania is a world leader in natural turf systems for major sporting arenas and in areas of mining technology and environmental management. Its aquaculture industry has developed ground-breaking fish-feeding technology and new packaging.


Tasmanians sell communications equipment to many navies and their world-class fine timber designers and craftsmen take orders internationally for furniture made from distinctive local timber.


The state is a natural larder with clean air, unpolluted water and rich soils inviting the production of 100 varieties of specialty cheeses, as well as other dairy products, mouth-watering rock lobsters, oysters, scallops and abalone, Atlantic salmon, beef, premium beers, leatherwood honey, mineral waters, fine chocolates, fresh berry fruits, apples and crisp vegetables.


Tasmania is a producer of award-winning cool-climate wines, beers, ciders and whiskies. Other export products include essential oils such as lavender, pharmaceutical products and premium wool sought after in Europe and Asia. Hobart is a vital gateway to the Antarctic and a centre for Southern Ocean and polar research.


The industries in Tasmania which made the greatest contribution to the state's gross product in 2010-11 in volume terms were: Manufacturing (9.4%), Health care and social assistance (8.2%), Financial and insurance services (7.2%), Ownership of dwellings and Agriculture, forestry and fishing (each 7.1%).

Getting to Tasmania

Travel is easy, whether by air from Sydney or Melbourne, or by sea, with daily sailings of the twin ferries Spirit of Tasmania 1 and 2 each way between Melbourne and Devonport throughout the year.

This site has been produced by the Brand Tasmania Council © 2014

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