Getting the ferry over to Tasmania
On our 6 month trip of Australia we were determined to make the trip over the bass strait to Tasmania. A lot of people seem to be put off doing it on longer trips because there is literally only one ferry you can get (if you're taking a vehicle and camper trailer or caravan with you), and it's pretty expensive. But we worked out it's roughly the same cost if you tried to fly over, hire a vehicle and pay for accommodation / hire a camper van or something similar. We had our free camper mate app on hand so had already started planning our campsites and key stops earlier on in the trip. So we booked up our ferry crossings and scheduled in our three weeks around Tasmania. We decided to do a day crossing on the way over and a night crossing on the way home. Checking in to the ferry was all pretty simple. It's an early start from Melbourne, as you really need to get to the dock for around 7.30am - which can be a 6am start depending on how long it takes you to pack up your camper and get on the road. But, to be honest, you have an eight hour crossing if you need to catch up on some sleep! [caption id="attachment_2740" align="alignnone" width="900"] Boarding the ferry[/caption] Just remember that you can't take any fruit or vegetables onto the ferry with you. We thought the border control would be on the other side, so had stocked up on food for the trip over (as we'd heard the restaurants on-board weren't very good). Unfortunately this meant we lost all our healthy snacks, and were left with everything unhealthy to graze on over the next eight hours. They were pretty strict too - they made us pop up the camper trailer and wanted to look in our car fridge to check ( so leave plenty of time for the checks). As it was, the food on board was pretty good. There was a canteen style restaurant which seemed to give plenty of choice, and quite a few other small convenient snack bars which did your usual hot pies, sausage rolls, pastries and hot drinks. [caption id="attachment_2741" align="alignnone" width="900"] Getting out on deck[/caption] There was plenty of other things to keep you entertained on board too. There was a kids playground, a two screen cinema (which you had to pay for), and a great information centre, which gives you a chance to start reading up on all the wonderful things there are to do in Tasmania. We grabbed a bunch of brochures, and sat with our camper mate app to plan our route, and pick our favourite campsites as we left the iconic Melbourne skyline behind. This is a good time to do it, as if you are with any other mobile company than Telstra, you get very little internet or phone coverage throughout Tasmania. [caption id="attachment_2742" align="alignnone" width="900"] Saying goodbye to Melbourne[/caption] For the way over we'd booked a deluxe cabin (only because they seem to be a lot cheaper on the day crossings). To be honest the ferry was busy but there were plenty of comfortable places to sit, so it's not really a requirement. We were travelling with our little two year old girl, so it was convenient for us as it was a lot easier to get her to have her day-nap (better for us, and everyone else on board!). If you don't have a cabin, I thought some of the best places to sit were up on the top deck (if it's not too choppy). Unfortunately, our crossing was really quite rough. We had 2-3 meter swell and high winds. We tried to stick to our cabin but it was right at the front of the ferry so it was hard not to notice the up and down motion as we pounded over the huge waves. Luckily it only lasted a couple of hours, and once we got closer to the Tasmanian shore it calmed down. Getting off the ferry was very easy but you definitely need to plan & book your first stop over point. On the day crossing you don't dock until just after 6pm, and by the time you get off it's close to 7pm. It was pitch black when we drove off & we had decided to skip Devonport (as there wasn't a huge amount to do), and headed to a spot in between the ferry and Launceston. This meant an hour drive in the dark, but we'd called our campsite and warned them we would be arriving late, and would need to set up in the dark. They were really accomodating and it was great to wake up to the beautiful Tasmanian outdoors the next morning (when we could see what was surrounding us). So for those considering it, I'd definitely recommend making the crossing over to Tasmania. We've so far had two weeks here and it's absolutely beautiful with so much to do. Get your free campermate app out and start planning, it's well worth the trip.