Mona founder plans caravan park next to museum’s $400m hotel

Mona’s $400 million, five star, 176-room hotel includes a theatre, an outdoor stage and a conference centre. Picture: SUPPLIED
Mona’s $400 million, five star, 176-room hotel includes a theatre, an outdoor stage and a conference centre. Picture: SUPPLIED

MONA founder David Walsh wants high rollers to drink in a bar at his museum alogside working-class guests – with nobody able to tell the difference.

It’s just one of his ideas for the future of the Berriedale peninsula that he touched on during the release of the designs for a proposed $400 million luxury hotel to be built alongside the museum.

“I want to create a bar in this place where we sell $4 beer and a $50 beer,” Walsh says.

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“Where the rich losers from the casino and the poor winners from the caravan park are all drinking together and no one can tell.”

He says building a caravan park is integral to the business.

“At the moment we’ve got ultra-high-end accommodation,” he says.

The lawn at Mona, which will be in upheaval during construction of the proposed hotel. Picture: MATHEW FARRELL

“High-end accommodation in the hotel clearly doesn’t suit everyone and the caravan park is the answer.”

Walsh says his idea for the bar will include maximum dress regulations, not minimum.

“If you turn up in your Pierre Cardin suit I’m going to issue a smock,” he says.

“The idea is to try and make it a badge of honour to have us insist that you dress down.

“It’s one of many attempted subversions of the standard process that we have in mind and that we’ll think of and most of them won’t work and some of them might.”

He says their intention is to have the caravan park open before the Motown hotel in 2024.

The centrepiece of the 176-room hotel plan is a library to house a personal collection of his and his friends’ books, maps, documents and “weird stuff”.

Mona founder and owner David Walsh talks about his plans for a hotel on the premises. Picture: MATHEW FARRELL

“There was a library in Glenorchy where I was raised and I spent a lot of time there borrowing books,” he says.

“It’s given me the capacity to change my life.

“I see libraries as very important spaces. But a lot of people don’t go to libraries and a lot of people don’t go to museums and I think we’ve had a little bit of success with regard to getting people into museums that otherwise wouldn’t have.”

He said he doesn’t mind being the training wheels on bicycles when kids are learning how to ride.

“That’s what our library will be, that’s what our museum is — we would like to get people in and take the wheels off so they can go to places that might actually give them the opportunity to change.”

Mr Walsh said he hoped his hotel proposal would motivate richer, more avaricious people than himself to try some “weird things” as well.

A casino housed in the hotel is also in the works and Mona is funding research into how the “under-explored” River Derwent was used by Aboriginal people.

This article from The Mercury originally appeared as “Mona founder David Walsh reveals his ‘subversive’ plans for the site’s future”.