Surprise! We drove to Tasmania!

When we had just 2 days to travel to Melbourne to catch the ferry to Tasmania it meant some long days driving!

Our last night at Ticoba was a chance to say goodbye to our new friends on the farm. We prepared a pizza feast for everyone with Steph’s homemade sourdough bases and a variety of toppings – my favourite was the mushroom and onion!

It wasn’t to be a big night, for we had a busy day ahead of us. So, we said one last goodbye to everyone, including Penny and Ernst, our farm hosts who had been so good to us over the last few months, and got to bed by 10pm.

Where is it?
Other places we have visited

There was one photo that I had to get before we left the farm. Earlier that afternoon I placed one of the old wooden chairs outside and snapped a shot of Willow overlooking the orchard. With the avocado trees in the background she posed perfectly for her photo.

A week earlier I got my hands on some avocado wood to make some boxes out of. I found an interesting piece to work with which I inlayed into some local rosewood. It was given as a gift to Penny and Ernst. I also made a smaller version for Steph and I – the perfect memento of our time on the farm.

Now, I’m not sure if it was the excitement for the day ahead, or the 15 shots of espresso Slavik put in his delicious Tiramisu we shared for dessert, but we woke up at 2am unable to get back to sleep. The clock ticked away and by 4am we made the decision – it was time to start our 1,236km leg to Melbourne where we would catch the ferry to Tasmania.

A mist had descended overnight and with the moon yet to rise the sky was black as we drove off the farm. The gravel road South off the mountain is somewhat treacherous with potholes and dips to contend with as we navigated through the forest.

By the time we reached the main highway the mist had cleared and it was just an easy 1,150km to go. Now, to put these distances into perspective the driving we undertook in those next two days is the equivalent of travelling from Paris to Copenhagen. Steph and I took turns with our plan of getting the bulk of the driving done in the first day, and so, after 780kms and lots of stops for naps we arrived in the town of Tarcutta.

We parked by the old tennis courts for the night and after a dinner of leftover pizza we fell asleep by 8pm.

In the morning we had a quick walk around the town. It was sad to see that many shops had closed down. With just 456km ahead of us we left Tarcutta.

Willow handled the distances very well and didn’t make a sound the whole trip. With all the time in the van we were concerned that she might get restless so we made sure we spent as much time outside with her when we stopped for breaks.

As we approached the border to Victoria we had a decision to make. Tasmania had lifted Victoria’s high-risk area declaration just a few weeks ago after a 5-day lockdown in Melbourne. As we entered Victoria we wanted to be sure that we could a) safely pass through to Tasmania as planned, or b) return to NSW if needed.

We checked the news and ABC Radio and we concluded that the likelihood of another lockdown or high-risk area declaration was low.

We crossed the border.

After lunch in Glenrowan and a quick photo of Willow and I at the big Ned Kelly statue we arrived in Melbourne.

Ordinarily, we would spend time visiting family and friends, maybe even eating out, but we decided not to risk visiting too many locations before our crossing into Tasmania. Instead we parked the van in the street outside my good friend Jai’s house and ordered a takeaway for dinner before another early night.

Our alarm went off at 5am but I was already awake – catching the ferry makes me nervous. Pets are not allowed in the passenger area of the ship so it is a long time to be without your best friends.

In the night Jai had sent me a message. I’d left my sunglasses at his house so he came out and taped them to the van windscreen at about midnight. Unbeknownst to Steph and I who were fast asleep, Jai tells us Willow woke up and jumped onto the dashboard to check everything was okay!

At 5:50am we arrived at the ferry terminal at Station Pier and joined the line of vehicles waiting to board.

Once aboard we gave Willow a thousand hugs and kisses before saying goodbye for the next 10 hours.

I have written previously about my experiences travelling with a pet on the Spirit of Tasmania ferry. Even after all these years the ferry operators, TT Line, fail to acknowledge the needs and safety of the pets it transports. Lucky for us, we are familiar with the process and always opt for Willow to remain in our van during sailing instead of the ghastly cages.

In the van, Willow has access to her food and water, and her litter tray. Although we have considered sneaking her above deck, the van is her home and where she is most comfortable.

At 8:45am we departed Melbourne.

Bass Strait can be a treacherous and powerful stretch of water lending to its shallowness and the currents it endures. It’s not uncommon to encounter 10-15m waves on a crossing with the ferry at its mercy as it bobs up and down along the 447km journey.

Today however, the water was calm and after what still felt like a very long 10 hours we docked at Devonport at 6:20pm. Steph and I anxiously returned to the vehicle deck to be reunited with Willow.

As unsettled as Steph and I were being away from our best friend, I’m not sure if Willow was too bothered. When we opened the door to the van it seemed as though she hadn’t moved all day, content enough to spend the crossing catching up on her beauty sleep.

Steph gave her some treats which she gobbled up as we prepared to disembark.

We drove down the ramp and onto home soil. Tasmania – our home state and all the adventures that awaited.

* * *

It’s fair to say that we were absolutely exhausted after those three days. It was certainly a pace we are not accustomed to moving at!

Now that we are safely in Tasmania we look forward to spending the next three months exploring in our van before our return sailing in May. It will also be a chance to catch up with friends and family here.

This Tasmania trip was a bit of a snap decision we made a few weeks ago. I was reluctant to announce it as whether we could make it happen with possible border restrictions was still somewhat up in the air.

Anyhow, we are here now and look forward to sharing some great experiences with you!

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