While you can fly to Tasmania, we decided to catch the ferry…the Spirit of Tasmania. This meant we had our own car, without the hassles of a hire car.
I should also point out that there are no passenger trains in Tasmania, so driving is the way to go. That is, unless you have any crazy ideas about circumnavigating Tasmania on foot. Tasmania might fit into a tiny 1cm square at the bottom of Australia on the map, but it’s much, much larger than you think and I blame that on the hills. It’s seemingly been scrunched up and I’m sure it you rolled it out flat, it would be twice the size and potentially even larger than Victoria.
We decided to do a day sail on the way over and, we’ll be travelling overnight in a cabin on the way back.
Drivers were told to line up literally bumper to bumper to conserve space. I was relieved Geoff was driving as I have no sense of how much space is around the car!
Usually, you have to get to the wharf at 7.30 AM for a 9.30AM departure. However, being our Summer school holidays here, it’s the peak time to visit Tasmania and the ferry was chockers. We’d received a text notifying us that due to high volumes of traffic, they were starting to load at 6.00 AM. Not wanting to take our chances and leave anything to fate, we woke up at 5.00AM (in the middle of MY night!!) and pulled up at 6.15AM.
It was only a short drive to the wharf and we soon spotted the Spirit of Tasmania. A former North Sea ferry, it was absolutely ginormous. …and it needs to be.
Leaving Port Melbourne.
Perhaps, you haven’t heard about that notoriously rough stretch of sea called Bass Strait, which lies between Tasmania and “the Mainland”. However, here’s footage of waves crashing over the deck and this seemingly giant ship at its mercy… A Treacherous Crossing. Apparently, a number of cars broke free on that trip and were damaged. Bass Strait is not for the faint-hearted…especially, when it’s having a bad day!
Of course, we didn’t show our daughter any of this footage before we left and kept very, very quite about the furies of Bass Strait. Had she had her radar out, she should have been suspicious. Silence and absolute avoidance is a dead giveaway, that there really is something to worry about.
However, I suspect that she was also caught up in the throws of avoidance. We said nothing. She said nothing. Then, the mighty moment came and we were driving the car into the bowels of the ship (or was it the stomach cavity?) At this point, the little voice did make a few discreet inquiries and wasn’t overly sure of herself but being part of the family, she had no choice. She was onboard. There was no escape.
As my Dad used to say to me, such experiences “put hairs on your chest”. That’s all very well if you want hairs on your chest, but what if you’d rather go without? As a kid, I never quite managed to ask him that and perhaps that’s now a question for when we get home.
I hoped my “Titanic” pose wasn’t prophetic!
We had booked our seats fairly last minute and so we could only get one reserved seat. This meant we were travelling cattle class, which was quite fine for a day trip. We took turns napping in our single seat and spent the rest of the trip on level 7. That is, except for the kids, who wandered around a bit.
I did venture out on the deck a few times…mainly to take a few photos. I enjoyed being out in the open soaking up the real sea experience. However, as my hair was beaten from side to side and I wasn’t entirely stable on my feet, I didn’t stay out on the deck for very long.
By midday with 6 hours still ahead, I was totally over looking at blue sea and was desperate for a “land ahoy”! While there is some novelty value in being out at sea, I found the experience similar to driving down the freeway staring at gum trees. It started to feel monotonous.
I’m not sure about exact times, but possibly around 5.00 PM we started to spot the Tasmanian coastline in the distance. Although we still had quite a way to go, not to mention however long it took to download the car, it was a relief and the coastline looked rather picturesque.
At this point, I should also let you know that we had a very smooth journey. Indeed, the staff said it was the smoothest sail they’d had in months. Given how our daughter felt about rough seas and hearing our friend’s talk about sea sickness and taking precautions (which we didn’t have), it was a relief.
It might have been around 7.30PM by the time we drove into Devonport. Found an open supermarket and loaded up.
We were in Tasmania.