As a title, it’s not as snappy at ‘Night Boat to Cairo’ by Madness but it does describe my evening.
The Spirit of Tasmania was late in departing the Port of Melbourne but as a journey stage, it was one of the more straightforward of this trip so far.
I hoped on the tram, the stop being right outside my hostel, to the Port where I walked one minute to the Terminal Building.
Check in was easy – give the clerk my booking number.
After a comfortable 1.5hour wait in the lounge, boarding involved verbal confirmation that I wasn’t carrying anything forbidden. There was a cursory check of my handbag though I’m not sure why the bigger rucksack was ignored.
I had a bunk booked in a cabin for four. Incredibly comfortable even if it was the top and very close to the ceiling. Sitting up in a hurry wasn’t recommended.
The two women I was sharing with were a little put out when they discovered I’d paid only 300AUD as a foot passenger for a return ticket and they had paid 1,000AUD and 1,600AUD for single journeys, taking their cars along with husband or family respectively.
Of course they then had their transport on the island sorted.
Arrival into Devonport was at a civilised hour after 9am which meant a lie in.
However, I got a shock when I discovered that while the ship announcement started that bus tickets could be ordered from the Tourism Hub, they were actually sold out.
I should have pre-ordered and the next bus to Launceston, where I needed to be for a tour pick up at 7.30am the following day… was at 11am the following day.
Have phone, will travel… at least in Australia, even if it hadn’t been the case in China.
At times like this, if you have a problem, if nobody else can help, you need Rome2Rio.com.
The site pulls up all the transport options for you and in this case, my solution was a 3pm Redline bus from the centre of Devonport to Launceston. I bought a return ticket (54AUD) for the 19th, just to be on the safe side.
Next step… getting into the centre of Devonport and there was a bus from just outside the Ferry Terminal.
If I had known there was a passenger ferry I’d have caught that because, on the other side of the planet from Liverpool, it is possible to catch a Ferry ‘cross the Mersey!
Devonport is a small town but there was a lovely walk in the sunshine out to the Mersey Bluffs Lighthouse.
I didn’t want to carry my rucksack and called in at the Tourist Information Office in the hope of finding a Left Luggage Store. No such luck.
The Redline Office was closed so my options seemed doubtful.
However, next to the bus stop was the Zest Cafe and Bakery. This looked like an excellent stop for breakfast and, while I was there, I asked if there was any chance I could leave my rucksack there.
“Oh, sure. No worries,” said the waitress and helped me stash it safely in a corner out of the way.
With the Zest Big Breakfast (at 28AUD) and a flat white coffee (5AUD) in a huge sunshine yellow mug, she made my day.
The walk to the Bluffs Lighthouse was only around 40 minutes following the shoreline and it was a great way to blow the cobwebs away.
Just before the Lighthouse is an Aboriginal Heritage Centre which was closed but the outer walls were covered in poetry. The Tiagarra Walking Trail was a traditional route over the cliffs.
There’s a caravan and camping site close by. Apparently, these are usually on the ancient sites where Indigenous Peoples would have lived. These sites were chosen for the shelter and the food that was abundant in these places.
Returning to town, I called back at the Tourist Information Centre which is housed in the Paranaple Arts Centre.
This is another free art gallery and there were three rather lovely exhibitions of work by local artists exploring portraits, ancestry and industry.
Finally, having retrieved my luggage and drank another flat white, it was time to catch the bus.
Just as it was about to pull out, another passenger discovered she had left her wallet at her hotel.
In a mild fluster, she dashed forward to tell the driver who reassured her that he would drop her off as near to the hotel as he could and circle the block while she collected the wallet.
I was thoroughly impressed by his kindness.
Leaving Devonport, the bus set off through the Tasmanian countryside, heading for Launceston.