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  • Shelley Dark

#3. Opossum Bay Tassie

O'Possum Bay is a sleepy village forty minutes drive from Hobart, yet it's light years away. Fifties weatherboard cottages snuggle low into the slope above the narrow beach, the peeling boat houses and old concrete ramps. Corrugated rainwater tanks balance on rickety wooden tank stands and cantilevered street-level car ports own some of the best views in town.

Bonnie Doon just mightn't cut it any longer - gentrification is on its inexorable way in the form of a few big square modern houses with vast balconies and sleek sun lounges.

An Opossum Bay Christmas tree.

We're in a two-storey steeply gabled beach-front home built in the 1930's, a slatted wooden walkway descending through waving grey grasses to the beach and boat house. That's the Australian red marine ensign which was only just pipped by the blue one to be our national flag.

It has quite a presence, this house, especially from the water's edge. Yet it's welcoming and unpretentious, a comfortable relaxed family home. Bedrooms have balconies with wonderful views of the five-kilometre-wide River Derwent in front.

This morning in the shower I watched a little red tug boat pulling a larger ship through the shipping channel out into open water, as white yacht sails leaned and veered in the distance. What a vantage point!

The garden is cleverly planted with salt tolerant plants and there's a choice of age-silvered teak dining settings: tawny gravel bordered by healthy rosemary bushes and tubs of herbs, or the rectangle of luxurious green lawn, white andirondacs and fire pit?

Kangaroo paw is thriving.

Herbs too!

There's a pretty garden with a white picket fence.

The headland near the house was once thickly wooded. The first white settler Gellibrand with his twenty allotted convicts cleared the forest. It's now crown land with crisscrossing mown walking paths. There's talk of the ubiquitous golf course.

A rocky bluff on Mary Ann Bay, where Gellibrand had his home. It’s said he dug his own grave and built a vault, drinking tea on it daily during the process. In the 1820's he exported planks, bricks, bacon, hams, sheep skins, bran, oats, barley and hay, horses, cattle and sheep and had convicts row him to Hobart for meetings. He died in Hobart in 1840 and was buried back in his favourite bay.

And nearby Shelly Beach.

A posy of flowers Ange picked from the garden.

Our bay and boathouse.

Cute local wildlife - photos by son-in-law Philippe.

An unexpected bonus has been the pool room and the hilarity of the daily fiercely-contested team challenge. It takes intense concentration to shoot a complete miss. Even more to sink the cue ball or the eight-ball!

I've been wanting to visit Mona ever since it was built. The rusting steel-ribbed building looks like an atomic fallout bunker.

Expect the unexpected here: an iron lace prime mover with matching concrete truck on board the low loader, an open tennis court at the arrival area, chooks roaming about underfoot, a mirrored entrance reflecting visitors.

A motley crew.

Parking spaces for benefactor David Walsh and his bestie designated appropriately.

Because of the dark and confusing layout, there is slight frustration at never really knowing if you've seen everything. When I took a pamphlet to try to make sense of it all, an attendant advised me 'It's a lot easier to ask than to try to make sense of that.'

Looking down onto the mirror surface of sump oil which fills the bottom of an entire room and smells like an old-fashioned service station. You can queue to walk along a viewing platform inverted into the liquid.