It is with so much joy and excitement that I share with you the first amazing journey of our new life as full time travellers. The hard work of getting ready to travel was swept aside in preparation for our trip on what the kids happily referred to as “the ferry”, known to everyone else as Spirit of Tasmania. Life doesn’t get much better than setting off on a road trip, knowing the end result will be exploring one of the most prominent destinations ever to feature on our must-see list.
The 14 hour trip to Melbourne was broken down into an enjoyable road trip with a variety of campsites at small towns we’d never visited before (more about that journey to come). The city greeted us with 40 degree heat, and upon arrival to Port Melbourne, the cool whisper of the ocean air was a relief not only because of its cooling effect, but also because this is the site we saw as we approached:
We were finally here!
Any friends we’d had who’d visited Tasmania previously had flown in for short trips and hired cars, so while we weren’t quite sure what to expect, we’d been showered with stories and yarns from other travellers who were more than happy to share their experiences at each of the campsites we’d stopped at on the way. One thing was for sure, Tasmania, they said, was amazing, and Spirit of Tasmania was a great adventure of its own. We haven’t met a single person who thought otherwise.
Boarding Spirit of Tasmania
Spirit of Tasmania sails nightly from Melbourne departing at 7:30pm, sailing overnight and arriving at 6am in Devonport, during peak times there are also day sailing options available. Around 5pm check-in opens, and stays open until 45 minutes before departure. It’s a smooth process, it may require a short amount of wait time, but we promise it’s worth it. It’s a great idea to make sure you have drinks in the car especially if Melbourne puts on the summer heat as it did for us.
One thing to be aware of when travelling to Tassie, is that the quarantine regulations are quite strict. This is in order to protect the farming and other industries that could be decimated by diseases carried over from the mainland. We were ushered through the security checkpoint after answering a range of questions about things we might be carrying, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, our fishing gear, and of course, about travelling with our dog, he had special requirements of his own.
The entire process is really well co-ordinated and organised, but if, like us you are travelling with camp gear, a caravan and food, it pays to read up on the quarantine requirements before you arrive, there are a few simple things you can do to make the process a lot more smooth and faster. It didn’t take us long and we were boarding the majestic ship that is Spirit of Tasmania I.
One of the best things about Spirit of Tasmania, that is especially impressive if you’re like us and need to bring your vehicle, is that it is a drive-on, drive-off ferry, when you’re towing a caravan this makes things even more convenient. There’s no need for awkward reversing angles, it’s super easy to board and disembark, just follow the directions and drive forward.
Aboard Spirit of Tasmania
With the car secured, and Yoshi locked safely in his overnight kennel, we headed off to explore the ferry that had been the reason for so much excitement over the past week. The first place to head, of course, was the deck to see what could be spotted frolicking in the ocean waves. We soaked in the imagery of Port Melbourne, the waves alive with jet skis and swimmers all washing away the day’s heat. The eagle eye of the kids spotted opaque blobs in the water; jellyfish floating in the boat’s current as we left the shore.
Spirit of Tasmania has everything you will need on your journey to Tassie, most of which is located on the central deck. You’ll find reception who can help with any enquiries, a tourist information centre which offers all the information you’ll need before hitting the shores, brochures highlighting must-see attractions and things to do in Tassie, as well as permits for National Parks, and fishing licenses. There’s also a store full of goodies such as souvenirs, toiletries, refreshments and for those who may need it, they also stock sea-sickness medication which Matt had to grab as just-in-case insurance.
The lounge area has cozy seats and televisions showcasing movies for on board entertainment, the kids enjoyed taking some time out watching a movie while we kicked back to relax with a couple of refreshments. There’s also a movie theatre, which plays a range of the latest movies in an early and late session, as well as a kids play room, and games room along with a bar if you’d like to enjoy a drink while you sail.
If you’re wondering about Byron’s not so impressed expression, it was because I set the camera to self timer, then ran up, incidentally bumping Matt’s beer all over Byron’s leg in the process, but, if you’ve ever tried to get kids in photos, you’ll know 2 out of 3 with ok looks is good enough haha 🙂
A Menu to Impress
For our trip over, we were treated to a delicious three course meal at The Leatherwood Restaurant. We can honestly say this is some of the best food we’ve tasted, and the best part is that it features Tasmanian produce, offering a tasty introduction to the state. For entrée, I enjoyed the “41 South hot smoked salmon, watercress and fennel salad”, while Matt indulged in the “Tasmanian tasting plate”:
Mains of choice were “Nichols chicken breast marinated in sage and white wine” and for Matt “Tasmanian tenderloin of beef”, WOW! Desert consisted of “warm chocolate tart with double cream” and a “House of Anvers tasting plate”, some of the best chocolate you will taste anywhere, ever. The photos tell the story, the food tastes even better than it looks.
The great thing about The Leatherwood, is that the kids meals are a wonderful selection of healthy, real food. Byron and Amahli chose Nichols chicken breast and vegetables, while Jackson decided on the Roast of the Day with vegetables, and they all enjoyed ice cream and topping for desert.
A Night at Sea
Our rooms aboard Spirit of Tasmania were 2, 4 berth cabins located at the front of the ship, meaning the kids could sit up near the port-hole and look out to sea as we set sail, and even more excitingly as we saw the Tasmanian coastline come into view. The rooms are comfortable, with plenty of room to unpack what you’ll need for the night, and a roomy en-suite complete with toilet and shower, which is a bonus to our kids at the moment after weeks of caravan travel. There are also power points to allow you to charge your phone and camera other gadgets while you sleep.
The sensation of sleeping at sea wasn’t something I’d thought about before we set sail, but as soon as the kid’s heads hit the pillow, they were out like a light, rocked gently by the waves of the Bass Strait. Matt was a bit concerned about sea-sickness which he suffers from, but a couple of Kwell’s eased any worries, and our big days of travel leading up to our Tassie adventures ensured he was tired, and slept soundly until the captain’s wakeup call just after 5am.
So it was, that we made our way down the stairs, back to level 5, to collect Yoshi from his kennel. Needless to say he was overjoyed to see his people, and head back to the car to begin our Tassie adventures. A short drive off the ferry and a quick check through quarantine and we headed off into the Tasmanian sunrise.
*Disclaimer: We sailed as guests of Spirit of Tasmania, however all experiences and thoughts are our own, shared to give you our honest opinion on our experience.