Jack And The Jerry


Back in the day when Hobart had just the one astroturf, the coach of my U17 hockey team decreed that trainings would be twice a week at 6:00 in the morning during the Tasmanian winter, presumably to prepare us for the humid 30 degree conditions we would be experiencing at the tournament in Darwin. My mother helpfully suggested that the extra exercise gained from making my own way there would be an added bonus to my fitness level.

This meant at approximately ten past 5, I would drag myself out of bed, grab my hockey stick (I slept in my shorts and t-shirt for that glorious extra minute’s sleep) and head off down the hill from Mount Stuart in the middle of winter. Anyone who has experienced Hobart at ten past five in the middle of winter will probably concur that it can be quite bleak, but if there’s no wind and it’s not raining, it’s actually quite a nice time to go for a run as you’ve definitely got the place all to yourself.

The jerry fog is a thick blanket of brutally cold cotton wool that rolls down the Derwent on winter mornings and sometimes it spreads over the whole city. One morning with sunrise still a vague notion, snow on the mountain and the air as still as if even time had frozen, I was jogging down Elphinstone road with my body being slowly swallowed from the feet up as I descended into the jerry and I clearly remember thinking “this is pretty great”. You probably had to be there. And be 16.

Anyway, mum was kind enough to pick me up after training and drive me to school, where as usual I fell asleep during maths at 11 o’clock and dreamt of climbing a beanstalk out of the fog instead of learning about algebra, just going to prove that what you learned during algebra class can be useful after high school.



We got a call from the school the other day “Oskar’s covered in mud, could you bring some more clothes down?” They really weren’t joking; unless the world under 6 bog snorkelling championships were in town, Oskar was at that point without doubt the muddiest boy in Hobart.

Oskar used to be quite a fastidious chap, but now he’s started playing soccer his relationship with mud has come along in leaps and bounds, and spectacular dives, which he seems to have picked up from watching the World Cup.

People often say Hobart’s got the second lowest rainfall of all the capital cities, but in winter we do seem to have more than our fair share of mud, and most of it’s on Oskar. I went to Mount Stuart Primary where it was a statutory offence to play anything but hockey and have fond memories of ten metre slide tackles through the muddy slush at Wentworth Park on rainy Saturday mornings, sometimes using the hockey stick more as a spade to find the ball, both teams finishing the game in utterly indistinguishable uniforms, so I can’t really complain.

Prints and originals available from the Phone Box Gallery.

Leaf Ride



When my daughter Kate went to her ten week checkup, Maggie insisted one of her hips seemed stiffer than the other. I tended to agree one was a bit stiffer, but didn’t think much of it. The doc had a good look and said it seemed okay, but Maggie insisted so we got a referral for an ultrasound. Everything at the imaging place was quite cheery until all of a sudden the radiographer went a bit quiet and said she would just go and get her boss. I thought “oh bugger” and we were informed that Kate had hip dysplasia.

She had a few weeks in a velcro harness which we were told fixes 99% of these problems, but unfortunately Kate was in the unlucky 1%, so had to have an operation ending in 6 months in an armpits-to-toes plaster cast.

Two things about that operation: Firstly, I will never forget the look Kate gave us when she realised the very nice nurse was taking her into the operating theatre and secondly, just an FYI to doctors, after an operation on the child of new parents, the correct order of the first two announcements you make is not “you had better sit down” THEN “everything is fine”. This is definitely exactly the wrong order of delivery.

Anyway, we had what we referred to as our “potplant baby” for a few months during which her attempts to start crawling were inspiring and heartbreaking in equal measure, and I also invented the “stuff the turkey” song for nappy changes which were quite an operation, and you did need a bit of a sit down afterwards. The surgeon gave her hip the big tick and it’s all normal, except a slightly enhanced level of flexibility means she is capable of chewing her toenails, though she mostly doesn’t.

The relevance of all this to the pic is that she was now able to have shoulder rides (rather gingerly at first though the doc assured us we couldn’t stuff her hip up) and this drawing comes from a vivid memory of one blustery early winter ride with her giggling at passing leaves and attempting to pull my ears off.

Originals and prints available from the Phone Box Gallery.

The Southerly



This is an excessively long anecdote mostly about how (a) I am a bit of a hapless idiot and (b) I have some lovely friends. The short version is: the winter southerly in Hobart is bloody freezing and when a really sharp one was blowing my grandfather used to say “that’s got penguins in it” which has always stuck with me, hence the drawing. Okay, you can go back to facebook now.

The longer, mostly unrelated story is a few years back after mum had a brain tumour removed, my very good friend Lee (who is a tai chi instructor as well as cartoonist, so in fact partly useful to society) flew down from Sydney for the weekend to teach her a few basic moves to help her get her balance back.

He had a ridiculously early return flight and I dropped him at the airport before dawn. It was a lovely, still, clear morning and on the way back I thought I would drive up to the top of Mount Wellington and watch the sun rise. As you do.

I got to the top and realised I had made the classic mistake of thinking the weather at the bottom of the mountain was similar to the top. It was still clear, but there was a howling southerly blowing with a high probability of penguins. I, naturally, was wearing shorts and a t-shirt but thought bugger it, it won’t take long

Another pertinent fact about winter dawn in Hobart is that it takes a surprisingly long time for the sun to come up. Anyway, it was all pretty crepuscular and worth the effort, but I was starting to feel a little hypothermic and I headed back to the car, noticing for the first time a sign saying cars with immobilisers may have problems due to the radio towers on the summit.

To cut a long story sort, my car was one of those that had this problem, so I was somewhat stuck. I also had a mobile phone with approximately ten seconds of battery left, so I rang Egg (to give you an idea of the length of our relationship, I gave him that nickname in grade 1).

The conversation went like this (approx 10 minutes after sunrise):

Egg: Hello?

Me: Egg, I’m on the top of the mountain and my car –

<phone cuts out>

While I was waiting for the cavalry to arrive, nature called, naturally. There are two more things you need to know about a windy day on the top of Mount Wellington if you’re going to take a discreet wee, firstly, the wind swirls around so you essentially end up standing inside a cyclone of your own wee and secondly, while you are standing inside your cyclone of wee, a bus full of tourists will inevitably drive past.

Anyway, that is pretty much my southerly wind on Mount Wellington story, and any legends of the Mountain Cyclone Wee Man undoubtedly stem from these events. You probably didn’t need to know, but now you do. The happy ending to this story is that Egg did turn up about 20 minutes later and we rolled the car far enough down the mountain to get it going again and then I bought him coffee at the Food Store cafe at the bottom of the mountain and he had a pretty good laugh about it.

Originals and prints from Dark Hobart available from the Phone Box Gallery.

Tree Hugger


You can always tell the time of year by the plane trees at Salamanca Lawns. Kate (who has just started rhyming with her age today) quite likes it when they lose their leaves because that and the long dark winter nights makes the fairy lights easier to see when we go there on Fridays for Rektango.

Here she is hugging a tree like a proper Tasmanian.

Dark Hobart prints and originals available from the Phone Box Gallery.