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Published: February 14th 2010
Day 288 - Box Hill to Penquin (via the Spirit of Tasmania)
The alarm on the phone was set for 5:15 this morning and as soon as it went off we were straight out of bed, we had a ferry to catch - the Spirit of Tasmania. We said our goodbyes to the girls, Grant and Anna last night as it’s going to be a while before we catch up with them again. We’re so grateful to them, it’s not easy when we rock up on their driveway, eat all their food, take over their washing machine, run them ragged and then bugger off again at the drop of a hat! We love them though and we’ll be back so we hope they don’t install any driveway gates in the next month or so!
Unfortunately leaving quietly isn’t a possibility, the underside of the caravan catches on the driveway so with a final screeching scrape we get on the road and head for the ferry terminal in Port Melbourne. Tom Tom tells us it’s a 30 minute drive but there’s a little bit of traffic and most of the lights are red when we come through the city. We’ve
got plenty of time though and when we arrive at the terminal we find we’re pretty much first in the queue.
The ferry is ready and waiting for us and the morning sunrise is just spectacular. We’re greeted by the first security check and a gentleman asks us to open the bonnet of the car and then questions us about our caravan. He checked the gas bottle on the ‘A’ frame of the caravan was turned off and then asked to check inside. We’ve got another gas bottle which isn’t secured so we hand that over to him and get a ticket to collect it at the other end. Everything else seems to be in order and we proceed to the next check point which is a set of gates just beside the ferry itself. We waited here for a while and managed to get some more shots of the beautiful morning sky and watched the hot balloons rising over the city. Just glorious and a perfect morning for sailing!
Just before 6.30am the gates were opened and we drove to the next stopping point. From here, in time, we get to see lots of other vehicles boarding
the ferry on different levels. It’s all pretty interesting but somehow although we were first in the queue it appears we’re going to be the last to be loaded, there must be method in the loading system so we sit tight and wait our turn. The chappy in the motorhome in front of us however is a bit of a character! He’s loud, chatty, has been everywhere, knows everyone and seemingly everything. He seems to meet his match however when he yells out to one of the ferry crew, presumably about the length of the wait he’s had to endure. We didn’t hear his exact words but the response was pretty clear which was “If you want to get on, get back in your car”! Luckily he did and we were the very next line to drive on just before 8.30am.
Once on board we park up, grab our bags which contain food, drinks and things to keep us occupied and then hot foot it up to level 10 where we think we might just settle for the journey. We find ourselves a window side arrangement with a power point overhead, perfect, we can do some work on the
laptop as we sail.
For ten hours we sailed the Bass Strait from mainland Australia across to Tasmania. Looking into the ocean below us we could see thousands of huge jelly fish, yuk, shudder, obviously not the place to go for a swim!
The facilities on the ferry are pretty good and it’s easy enough to navigate your way around via the stairs or the lifts. Neither of us felt sea sick at all, the crossing was pretty calm all the way it was just a bit foggy at times which meant the captain had to pull on the old fog horn to let other vessels know we were there. We ventured down to the comfy cinema on level seven but the film was already well underway so we didn’t stop, then we checked out the tourist information centre to get our National Park passes, we’ll get full use out of those for our $60 I would think!
We were entertained by singers, chatted to by Tasmanian locals on their way home and generally passed the time aboard the ferry quite easily. By the time we arrived in Devonport we’d swapped details with the couple who had
been sitting next to us and hope to visit them during our stay as they live at Beauty Point which sounds absolutely ‘beautiful’!
The phone bleeped and we were excited to get a message from Jane and Tony to say they could see the ferry coming in! They’re already at the caravan park in Penguin and have been saving us a spot next to them all day.
Our exit from the confines of the ferry was delayed by some poor soul not being able to restart their car. ‘Character Chappy’ in the motorhome up front was on fine form announcing to everyone that there was a problem and we were going to be here for hours while they found someone to slave start the car! Obviously this has never happened aboard a ferry which has been sailing for years, twice daily! *Sigh*! Within minutes we were off and running!
We formed three lanes, then six lanes, then jostled our way into three again for the quarantine check. The chap seeing us through was very jolly, or so Darryl thought, as he looked through the back of the car, spied the fishing rod and asked Dar when he
last went fishing. Thinking it was just a general question Darryl jokingly answered that it had been a while and that he hadn’t caught a bloody thing. What the chap really wanted to find out was if we had any fish products ie bait with us! That started a reasonably thorough look through the fridge where we found an errant apple we’d forgotten about, garlic which we had overlooked as being a vegetable and of course the non-smelling rather posh fish bait in the freezer. Into the quarantine bin it all went and we were on our way!
A quick stop to collect our gas bottle and then we followed the signs to Penguin to find Tony and Jane. It’s a beautiful little town and the caravan park is great. We have no trouble checking in and Tony greets us at the gates with Jane waiting round the corner with a huge hug for both of us. It’s so lovely to see them again and we’re soon catching up on recent events and wowing that our chance meeting on Uluru back in August could lead to a fun packed adventure ahead of us in Tasmania!
Jane and Tony
have prepared dinner already which was very nice of them and we tuck in to the tasty steaks and succulent veg, gorgeous and after a long ferry trip it was just what we needed.
There was still enough time for a couple of beers then a hot mug of coffee (cordial for me obviously!) and then we hit the sack.
Here’s to plenty of fun over the next few weeks!
Dar and Sar
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