HOBART THE NEW ‘OVERSEAS’ DESTINATION
LIVES UP TO ALL EXPECTATIONS
A trip across Bass Straight on The Spirit of Tasmania and a stay in Hobart, Australia’s southern most city, should be on the bucket list of most Australians.
The bonus is you can drive to Melbourne enjoying the coastal or inland attractions, then drive your car onto the Spirit of Tasmania.
The Spirit of Tasmania travels at night on its journey to Devonport and by day on the return journey to Melbourne. It is like an RSL club a la mere complete with gambling areas, cinema, restaurants and a shop. The quality of the food is good and the buffet features hearty comfort foods as well as a wide selection of salads and desserts.
There are deck areas outside where you get to experience sea air and on a cloudless night, see a sky full of bright stars that seem to go on forever.
If you want to take your pet, you have to be prepared to leave your pet in your car for about 16 hours. The car parking decks are locked for security and you cannot access your car until the morning.
What are you looking at?
This beautiful photo is in fact a close up view of one of the many different types of clams that are found on the Great Barrier Reef.
Found just offshore Lady Elliot Island this particular clam is a Tridacna sp. Each individual clam has a different variety of colours and patterns, just like our fingerprints are all different. The spot is in fact not an eye but a siphon that is used in feeding, locomotion, respiration and reproduction through the flow of water.
Book well ahead
The cruise is so popular that it is best to book a cabin well in advance. Although the trip is just one night, a cabin makes the experience much more of an adventure.
If you miss out on a cabin, you’ll end up in the “blue chairs”. These uncomfortable -looking overnight seats are in a large area with no privacy.
With large windows, the cabins are very comfortable with an ensuite, and extremely clean. The gentle rocking of the boat, sent me to sleep in record time and I had the best sleep I’d had in ages.
When I awoke, the Spirit of Tasmania was birthing in Devonport at 6am. A half hour or so later, I was in my car and pulling into the United East service station just down from the wharf. I paid for the fuel, then spotted a $1 coin on the ground. I bent down to pick it up but I couldn’t get my finger underneath; it was stuck. I heard guffawing behind me and I turned around.
“That $1 coin has paid for itself 100-fold in entertainment over the years,” the owner chuckled.
It was an easy drive to join up to the Midland Highway which runs straight to Hobart through the historical towns of Campbell Town and Ross. A sign to a village fair at Tunbridge beckoned and after a quick pit stop, I was on the road again passing the Georgian village Oatlands where you’ll find the largest number of colonial sandstone buildings in any town in Australia.
Somerset on the Pier
My destination in Hobart was Somerset on the Pier for three nights of luxury staying slam-bang in the centre of the action both on land and water.
Like the famous Finger Wharf in Sydney, Somerset on the Pier as it name suggests, is built on a pier. An award-winning transformation of the early 1930s pier building, it offers breathtaking views of the River Derwent and historic Sullivan’s Cove.
Well appointed with quality furnishings, the one and two-bedroom apartments have fully equipped laundries and kitchens.
As I watched TV in my luxurious lounge area, about six metres away sailing ships passed as they moored at Constitution Dock.
Somerset apartments is a few minutes walk from some of Hobart’s top restaurants such as Mures Upper Deck, the iconic The Drunken Admiral, as well as three reasonably-priced pontoon restaurants. It is a hop, skip and a jump from bars and popular nightspots of Davey Street and Salamanca Place.
If you don’t feel like going out there is an upmarket bar and cafe at the apartments.
It is also a cat’s whisker away from the wharfs where the cruise boats leave for River Derwent tours, to Mona museum, or the memorable Peppermint Bay Cruise, a fully guided half-day cruise by high-speed luxury catamaran to Peppermint Bay, in Tasmania’s Huon/Channel region. The cruise takes in Tasmanian salmon farms in the D’Entrecasteaux Channel, and lunch at Peppermint Bay overlooking the Channel and Bruny Island.
Other activities include kayak hire, local galleries, museums, art centres and craft shops and Penitentiary ghost tours.
At Somerset on the Pier apartments start at about $235 a night depending on the time of the year. In no other capital city in Australia would you get a CBD waterfront apartment with all that Somerset offers at
this price. It’s a great place to unwind and see Hobart at its best.