06 December 2011

The Spirit of Tasmania

Well, it was nearly an hour and a half from the time we arrived at the security point (which only took a couple of minutes to clear) until we were getting out of our car on the ferry. That is, 90 minutes sitting in various queues on Station Pier. This was notwithstanding the fact that we arrived just a few minutes after boarding was scheduled to begin. I can't work out what caused the delay. The vehicles would move slightly forward, then pause. Even in the final holding area before driving on to the ferry, there were times when nothing seemed to happen for minutes on end. I accept that loading a ferry may have its complications, but internally the vessel is well fitted out so that different types of vehicles can be directed to appropriate areas. Compared with our experience (admittedly some time back) on the Queenscliff/Sorrento ferry, it was just unbelievable and very frustrating, especially given that there seemed to be staff everywhere.  Is it just my pre-conceived notion, or is the level of staffing a fact of life in the Australian maritime industry? I wonder how by how much the Australian taxpayer is subsidising this operation? Clue – our invoice states that the subsidy on the cost of our car is $388.  

On board, there didn't seem to be anything like a full load of passengers, and so there was plenty of room in the lounge areas. There were a couple of school groups. No, they didn't misbehave but of course they were excited and a bit rowdy. I heard one group being told off. I suppose the teaching staff know best but I thought it was a bit tough!.

We were happy with our internal cabin and slept well, gently rocked by the movement of the boat. The food for purchase was fairly plain, pub-like I guess you could say, and in the same price range. There's also an upmarket dining area, but it is expensive ($56 for 2 courses, $64 for 3).

There was nearly full moon, but even so, I couldn't see much going down the Bay. I always enjoy going through the Heads, and got a great view looking backwards at the Queenscliff leading lights.

Disembarkation at Devonport wasn't too painful, although the order in which you board the vessel has nothing to do with the order in which you get off. There was quite a queue for the Tasmanian quarantine check, but I suppose they're just doing the job.

We had breakfast at Deloraine then drove down the Lake Highway past the Great Lake and through the Central Plateau Conservation Area. Fantastic scenery. I have only done this route once before and had forgotten how great it is. More about this later. Here are some images as we left Melbourne.


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