Crossing Bass Strait from Melbourne to Devonport on the Spirit of Tasmania

I was looking forward to crossing Bass Strait on the Spirit of Tasmania from Melbourne to Devonport.  Bass Strait has a reputation for being rough. I was disappointed to find that on the day I crossed, Bass Strait was an effective mill pond with tiny one metre swells. Even so, several people became queasy with the slow rocking motion of the boat. The boat had obviously been through some storms over the years with many signs warning to be careful opening and closing doors and moving about the ship.

Spirit of Tasmania in Melbourne

On entering the wharf area, drivers are asked to check in any LPG gas bottles, which I did. The gas bottles are transported separately on the Spirit of Tasmania. Vehicles then queued alongside the ship, waiting their turn to board.

Vehicles queuing on the wharf alongside the Spirit of Tasmania


Two ramps into the bow of the Spirit of Tasmania — I was about to drive up the top ramp


The ramp into the top level of the Spirit of Tasmania


Entering the Spirit of Tasmania

You are directed where to park on board. If you have a vehicle, like my Toyota Prado, that needs room behind the vehicle to open the tailgate to access the boot, take whatever you need out before boarding. Cars are made to park so close together that is was impossible for me to access anything in my boot once parked. When the boat is under way, you are not able to access the car decks on the ship.

In the hold of the Spirit of Tasmania

Shipping is obviously speed limited in Port Phillip Bay because it seemed to take forever for the Spirit of Tasmania to leave the bay. Once in Bass Strait, the ship picked up speed for the voyage to Tasmania.

Farewell to the Australian mainland with the Melbourne CBD in the distance across Port Phillip Bay


A calm day on the Spirit of Tasmania looking towards the stern crossing Bass Strait

While there is on board entertainment, bars and restaurants, crossing Bass Strait is incredibly boring, particularly on a calm day. I made several circuits of the Spirit of Tasmania exploring the boat.

My wife had booked me an Ocean Recliner seat. These are in the stern of the boat. If you are quite happy to occupy an airline-style seat for the trip, these are a good option. I did not spend much time in my seat. As this was a day time voyage, I preferred to move around the ship.

About halfway across Bass Strait, you will often see the sister ships Spirit of Tasmania I or II heading in the reverse direction in the distance.

The two boats crossing paths — this Spirit of Tasmania was heading back to Melbourne


Entering the Mersey River at Devonport


The eastern bank of the Mersey River mouth where it enters Bass Strait — in the background is where I was to camp for the night


Welcome to Devonport

On arriving at Devonport, there is again a lengthy wait to disembark from the Spirit of Tasmania. All vehicles need to wait their turn to leave the ship, and then all vehicles are checked for quarantine. Amongst other things, no fruit and vegetables are allowed from the mainland to ensure that pests are not introduced to Tasmania. Clearing quarantine, I picked up my gas bottle and headed for the camp site that I had booked for the evening at the Devonport Discovery Holiday Park.

This article is part of my road trip from Brisbane to Tasmania and back — further stories about my road trip can be found by following the Tasmania trip tag.

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