From the motel in Devonport it was a short drive to the wharf to board the Spirit of Tasmania and we arrived reasonably early to queue to board the vessel.
After an hour or so we were able to drive on board to deck 6 and proceeded to take our kit up the single flight of stairs to deck level 7.
We had recliners booked on the ship but we opted for some comfortable chairs next to a widow in close proximity to the on-board cafe known as “The Pantry”. As it was a daylight sailing we stayed in this location for the entirety of the trip.
Before we sailed the Captain announced that he expected fairly smooth sailing until lunch time then a little rougher weather from there on. The swell wasn’t too bad and dropped right away when we entered Port Phillip Bay. We left Devonport at around 8:30am
and docked in Melbourne at 6:00pm when the matter of unloading the vehicles turned into a long process and we ended up being the last vehicle off the ship just after 7:00pm.
We had booked accommodation at the Big 4 caravan park in Braybrook (http://www.big4.com.au/caravan-parks/vic/greater-melbourne/ashley-gardens-big4-holiday-village) for three nights and drove from the port to the caravan park through the Melbourne traffic being guided by the GPS system in the car as we were unsure of where we were going. Arriving at the park we found reception closed but an envelope with our cabin keys waiting at the front door.
After shifting the gear we needed from the car to the cabin we went to the adjacent supermarket and purchased a few essentials before we had a bite to eat and turned in.
Tuesday morning, we purchased myki passes (http://ptv.vic.gov.au/tickets/myki/myki-pass/) from reception and from a bus stop near the caravan park we travelled into the CBD for a look at downtown Melbourne. Hopped off the bus in Queen Street then walked along until we came to Bourke Street; in one of the arcades off the mall we found Cafe E Torta (https://www.google.com.au/maps/place/Bourke+St,+Melbourne+VIC/@-37.8150206,144.9643312,3a,75y,319h,90t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1srf92oQ-ITttF2yubEqX6-g!2e0!6s%2F%2Fgeo1.ggpht.com%2Fcbk%3Fpanoid%3Drf92oQ-ITttF2yubEqX6-g%26output%3Dthumbnail%26cb_client%3Dsearch.TACTILE.gps%26thumb%3D2%26w%3D392%26h%3D106%26yaw%3D319.71988%26pitch%3D0!7i13312!8i6656!4m2!3m1!1s0x6ad65d4c71eafb39:0xaa330be4d733a) where we enjoyed very tasty cakes and delightful coffee.
We walked along Bourke Street (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bourke_Street,_Melbourne) through the mall and up to the steps of Parliament House (https://www.google.com.au/maps/place/Bourke+St,+Melbourne+VIC/@-37.8146149,144.966943,16z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x6ad65d4c71eafb39:0xaa330be4d733a)
where we then walked through the Treasury Gardens.
Back into Collins Street and Little Collins Street then trough to Little Bourke Street and a wander through the Chinatown area then back to the mall in search of lunch.
After enjoying a very filling lunch of pancakes at the local Lovely Pancakes franchise we wandered along the CBD streets until we found ourselves back in Queen Street and a bus stop where we caught a bus back to the caravan park for a quiet afternoon.
Wednesday morning was a bit dreary but we managed to complete some washing and eventually got it dried despite occasional showers. We went to the nearby Ashley Hotel (http://www.ashleyhotel.com.au/) for a generous and tasty meal then wandered through the shopping centre on the way back to the caravan park to prepare for our departure next morning. There are lots to see and do in Melbourne but we didn’t schedule much time on this trip and will need to come back another time for a longer stay to see a lot more of the City.
Thursday morning, we departed the caravan park heading east toward Sale. If you don’t know the way and you are relying on a GPS in the car, then peak hour morning traffic in Melbourne is not for the feint hearted. Eventually we were out of the city heading east on the M1 and motoring along quite nicely with most of the heavy traffic heading into the City rather than out of it as we were. There is little to see along the freeway as it generally bypasses all the towns and urban centres. East of Pakenham we pulled off the highway to a rest stop for morning tea then drove on past Warragul, and Moe to Traralgon, Rosedale and then to Sale (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sale,_Victoria) where we decided to take a look at the town and have some lunch.
We found Sale to be a quite interesting city and walked through the CBD; at a local shopping centre we bought a couple of items and then found an interesting Cafe – Mr Raymond (http://www.visitvictoria.com/regions/Gippsland/Food-and-wine/Cafes/TV-Mister-Raymond.aspx) where we enjoyed some delicious food for lunch.
After Sale we drove on to Stratford and Bairnsdale (where we purchased diesel fuel for 89.5 cents per litre – and received a further discount of 4 cents per litre as it was a Woolworth’s Service Station) then on to Lakes Entrance (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lakes_Entrance,_Victoria).
Apart from enjoying the wonderful views from the lookout on the way into town, we thought we would like a coffee. There wasn’t a lot open but we did happen upon MMMTruffles (http://www.mmmtruffles.com.au/) where the proprietor brewed up a really good Latte and tempted us with the wide array of chocolates on display (https://www.facebook.com/mmmTruffles/).
From Lakes Entrance we then drove on to Orbost where had booked accommodation for the evening at the Orbost Motel (http://orbostmotel.com.au/) where the decoration strongly follows the corrugated iron theme. The stay was quite pleasant and we departed next morning heading for Canberra.
The road from Orbost to Canberra was very scenic and in places, very twisty. A lot of work has been and is being done by the Victoria Government on the section of the road between Orbost and the New South Wales border
and the result of the work was very evident. Crossing the border, it wasn’t too long before we reached the coastal town of Eden (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eden,_New_South_Wales) sitting alongside Twofold Bay (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twofold_Bay).
We drove to the town lookout above the bay and found a large naval vessel anchored in Twofold Bay. This ship was obviously of interest to the locals as they came to check its status with regularity.
We had morning tea at the lookout and then drove on to the town of Bega (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bega,_New_South_Wales) of cheese fame and stopped for a visit to the Bega Cheese Factory (http://www.begacheese.com.au/) at the edge of the town.
From Bega we drove along the Snowy Mountains Highway to Cooma (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cooma) where we visited one of the local hotels for a very filling lunch before driving the final stage of our run to Canberra (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canberra).
In Canberra we stayed the night at the Little National Hotel (http://littlenationalhotel.com.au/) which was quite a different experience for us. We had a bit of a walk about the streets in the afternoon but didn’t go very far as it was quite a hot, energy sapping day.
Saturday morning saw us on the road quite early and our plan was to drive to Yass (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yass,_New_South_Wales) where we would find some breakfast and fill the vehicle. We took the turnoff into Yass
and found a service station then went in search of Maccas for coffee. As it turned out we could have stayed on the highway as the McDonald’s was located at the service centre at the western edge of Yass – fuel was also the same price here as we paid in town.
From Yass our destination for the day was Dubbo so we travelled by some “calmer” roads through Boorowa, Cowra (where we stopped for morning tea),
Canowindra, Molong and Wellington.
We pulled up in Wellington in search of a meal and found the Cow and Calf where we were able to partake of a very satisfying lunch.
From Wellington we drove the short distance to Dubbo and checked into the Matilda Motel for the evening.
Even though it would be a long day – 968 kilometres – we decided we would drive the rest of the way home on Sunday. We rose at 5:00am (daylight saving time), had breakfast and hit the road at 6:30. The journey took us up the Newell Highway through Gilgandra, Coonabarrabran and Narrabri where we stopped for a break behind the Information Centre. The camera didn’t come out all day so there are no photos to include here.
Pushing on we encountered a very wide (8.5 metres) load between Bellata and Gurley and had to pull right off the road to allow the convoy to pass. We bypassed Moree along the new road and pulled into Goondiwindi just before 11:00am (Qld time) – we picked up an hour as a result of the changed daylight saving timezone. After more fuel for the car and the body we pushed on through Inglewood, Warwick and into Brisbane where we drove into a shopping centre at Brown Plains to have a short rest. We arrived at our home on the Sunshine Coast at 5:30pm.
Our return home wrapped up our Tasmania 2016 jaunt after being away for some 24 days and travelling almost 5,700 kilometres. We slept in many different beds, having stayed in 14 different accommodation establishments. We were very pleased with the performance of our vehicle which averaged about 6.5 litres per hundred kilometres (fuel consumption) during the trip. We did enjoy the journey but returning home is always good.
Until next time.