This week’s Guest Traveller Patrick Walden (brother of our very own crew member Jack) spent a long weekend in Tasmania on a driving holiday which started with a trip on the Spirit of Tasmania.
Travelling, an enjoyable endeavour, can be fraught with its accompanying challenges. As a person in a wheelchair, or indeed anyone who simply moves at a slower pace than most, the challenges of travel – like navigating varying terrain, tight spaces and lengthy queues – can be amplified. The goal of getting from point ‘A’ to ‘B’ may not be simple. But it was smooth sailing when I travelled to pristine Tasmania over Bass Strait on the beautiful Spirit of Tasmania.
Convenience from door to door
When I’ve been on holidays involving a plane, it’s often been a long, drawn-out process: getting out of the car, the long queues, and navigating my wheelchair. But travelling with Spirit of Tasmania meant I began my holiday with ease. I left my house in my own car, drove straight to Station Pier and on to the ship’s deck.
This mode of transport makes travel easy if you have to factor in accessibility when you venture out on holiday, as I do. Spirit of Tasmania was convenient as I could take my own car and the staff on board were at the ready with their assistance when I needed it. They really looked after me when getting to the elevator, boarding and disembarking.
I headed straight to my easy access room (there are a couple of easy access rooms aboard each ship, but you need to call ahead and book separately to ensure you get one). The easy access room was spacious and accommodated my wheelchair easily, plus my mum and brother. The bathroom, too, was easy to use, with ample room to move for me and my travel companions. Who would have thought showering at sea would be so easy.
The shape of water
There was even time to take part in a number of social activities on board before I thought about getting a good night’s sleep. We sampled the onboard restaurant with an excellent range of food; enjoyed a glass of Tassie wine; and settled in for a movie at sea. How fitting that we got to see “The Shape of Water”. What a wondrous thought I had, imagining the lead characters, suspended by their human-amphibian ethereal bond, in the water below us.
The overnight sail meant I could sleep the night away and on arrival in Devonport, I woke to a glorious view that was bathed in morning sunshine. What a joy!
The mode of travel is good value. I could take my car and everything I needed was under one nautical roof for an overnight passage across Bass Strait. I also didn’t have to worry about whether I had too much luggage – I simply left the excess in the car. Or, as the case may be, your car can also store any other equipment you may need to assist your mobility.
Ready for a weekend adventure
After leaving Station Pier in Port Melbourne about 9.30pm, we disembarked in Devonport, Tasmania, just before 6am. We arrived ready for a schedule packed with activities. That’s another bonus of travelling overnight: I could spend the time (I didn’t have prior to our trip) planning our itinerary.
I had access to the onboard tourism information, and hours to plan, taking advantage of the expert advice also available to me. There was WiFi so I remained connected, which was important for my brother, who was travelling with me. There was ample room on board for him to escape to a quiet nook to wrap up work before we enjoyed our long-weekend ‘break from it all’, in pristine Tasmania.
Having my own car with me also meant I didn’t have to hire one when I arrived in Tasmania. This is a real bonus for people using wheelchairs because we are familiar with our own cars, and know the feel of them. I didn’t have to concern myself with adapting to a rental car.
Whether you’re in a wheelchair or not, it’s the best way to get to Tasmania. I avoided queues and it was spacious, even when the ship was full, as it was that night.
Secure, with seat belts buckled up, we began our drive around Tasmania!
Stay tuned for Patrick’s wrap up of his long weekend in Tasmania!
Note: Journeys to Come travelled as a guest of Spirit of Tasmania.