Saturday, January 23, 2010

Lonely Planet v. Devonport Tasmania

We had a wee bit of a storm in a teacup here this week. In a rare, and (to me) very welcome attempt to stir things up, our local paper printed the Lonely Planet's opinion of Devonport on their front page. It wasn't pretty. I laughed til my tummy hurt. Not because it was funny - it isn't. But because it is so accurate, and I could imagine the indignation of the ivory tower dwellers on reading it. I wasn't wrong. What can I say, I have a thing for kicking over apple-carts.....

Lonely Planet said:

Visitors to Devonport, Tassie's third-largest city, are usually coming or going rather than staying. The Spirit of Tasmania Bass Strait ferry arrives from Melbourne every morning, perforing a deft 180-degree pirouette in the Mersey River before sailing off again at night. Locals line the riverbanks to watch, wave and imagine places elsehwere and more interesting.

Actually keeping tourists (and their money) here seems a challenge too large. Devonport remains a sedentary, mildly menacing place; speeding rednecks yell (expletive) at unsuspecting pedestrians, and the McDonald's drive-thru is the place to be on a Saturday night.

This is one of things I love about Lonely Planet - concise reviews. Yes, it is 1 person's opinion. That does not make it any less valid. Not 1 person I have spoken to in the past 3 days has disagreed. Only 1 letter to the Editor has disagreed. The Editor disagrees, but only to a minor extent. Teenagers don't disagree.

The only people up in arms are the politicos and tourism operators. They even went so far as to list 10 things to do here. Most are seasonal, and 3 aren't even IN the city.

Granted, the walk along the foreshore is pretty. But - most days, at certain times, you run the gamut of louts sitting in the carparks, playing their music loudly, swearing and posturing like animals in a zoo. I for one am not getting out of bed at 6 in the morning so that I may walk the Parade in peace.

Same goes for walking through the mall - louts hang about in groups, trying to out-number and out-pose each other.

Fridays and Saturdays after 5, stay away. The inmates run the asylum then, and they are NOT friendly. The reason McD's drive-thru is the place to be is because you don't want to go inside - the security guards get danger money for a shift at Macca's.

This IS a pretty place. But it offers nothing for anyone to do. The nightlife is a non-existent, unless you want to get king-hit - there are no concerts/music except for the Jazz Festival (seasonal), or pub bands, where you get king-hit.

I am hoping that the politicians and tourism operators see this as a chance to improve and change what is (or isn't) in place, but I am not holding my breath. I am watching for a large delivery of sand, that they may bury their heads further.

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