Here in Hobart

Tasmania’s natural beauty is legendary. Australia’s island state is home to “one of the world’s last temperate wilderness areas,” among other wonders. So naturally, I want to talk about the movie theater.

Hobart’s State Cinema, to be precise. Conveniently (but not coincidentally), my lodging in Tassie was located only 100 meters up the street from this formerly state-owned theater. “Formerly,” because When drastic budget cuts forced the Australian Film Institute to let it go, a local businessman bought it and kept it going.

All of which is nice, but what’s better is the friendly staff. On my exploratory visit, a woman greeted me and answered all my questions about the cinema and its history. She showed me the notebook where visitors are encouraged to leave comments — and the manager writes his reply/rebuttal alongside. (Example: A request for popcorn was shot down due to management’s view of the stuff as loud, smelly and otherwise invasive. But several kinds of wine are served — in proper glasses.)

Then we got into a discussion about travel, touched on the recent Getaway episode discussing where Australians most want to visit, and then she had to leave — but not before giving me a free (actually “nil cash”) ticket to the film I wanted to see (Lost in La Mancha.)

When that screening was finished, a guy I met at the hostel who moonlights as ticket taker secured me a tour of the projection room, where the owner himself showed me around. Then he requested I be his guest to see the next offering, Swimming Pool. I’d seen it before (with B in Minneapolis) but of course I took him up on it. Hooray for free movies!

I didn’t spend all my time staring at the silver screen, of course. I also got out to see other things, such as the Salamanca Markets, a street-long bonanza of products and personality:

Plenty of people, crowded in the market

But no bushwalking. I’m on record as being staunchly pro-environment, but I see no need to be out in it all the time.

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