There are so many fantastic places to visit in Australia and it wasn’t without excitement when we decided to start planning the Tasmania part of our ‘Adventures Around Australia’.
I say ‘planning’, because unfortunately you just can’t turn up at the ferry, hop on, then after a few hours hop off and away you go.
Plus, if you are travelling with a dog, that does complicate matters a bit.
When To Go?
Initially, deciding when to go to Tassie could be important for you if you have a dislike of the cold.
Pick the wrong time, or maybe the right time for you, and you’d better take your winter woolies and snow shoes as it can go from sunshine to snow showers at the drop of a hat.
The majority of our time in Tassie would be in summer, bur we were still prepared for cold weather.
Being the beach loving people that we are, we chose our dates for our trip to be from 11th Jan until 4th April. Ensuring that we were giving ourselves the potentially warmest months to enjoy.
The summer months average out at about 21°C, so not steaming hot, but a great temp for getting out and about to do things with your furry pals.
Plus, if you are there for the change of season from Summer to Autumn, you will be fortunate to witness the beginning of the incredible colour changes in the leaves of the deciduous trees, of which Tassie has one or two.
We booked our ferry crossing 6 months in advance and even then there were crossings that were fully booked out.
It’s definitely worth planning ahead, especially if you’d also prefer to book a cabin.
How Long To Go For?
It would be fantastic if we could just pop over to Tassie whenever we wanted to.
Unfortunately for the majority of us that’s not the case, as it can be very expensive just to get there.
So, bearing in mind the cost of getting there, you need to weigh up whether it’s cost effective for the time you want to spend there.
We felt that the 3 months that we had was just about right for us. As the couple of weeks leading up to our return journey to mainland Australia, the weather did turn very cold at night.
Getting down below 0°C on a number of occasions.
How To Get There?
Well, you’ve got 2 choices really.
Either fly over to Devenport in the North of the island, or Hobart in the South.
Or do as most people do and book themselves onto the Spirit of Tasmania Ferry.
We actually did both, but I will tell you the reason for that a bit later.
Spirit of Tasmania
The Spirit of Tasmania currently runs between the docks at Port Melbourne and Devenport on a daily basis, although there are plans for the ferrys’ berth at Melbourne to be moved to Geelong at some point in the future.
Day and night sailings are generally available but you need to check their website to confirm.
The crossing takes between 10 – 12 hours and I booked a recliner seat in the quiet lounge to sleep in as I was travelling at night.
I was quiet surprised at the comfort of these seats and also that they are considerably larger that your typical economy airline seat.
I’d read some pretty negative comments about them, but even at just under 2 metres in height I still felt reasonably comfortable.
We were taking our caravan across with us, so the return ferry crossing became quite costly.
However, we were able to offset this cost by the amount of free camping we were able to do, once over there.
Tassie is absolutely fantastic for the number of ‘free camps’ that are available. Click here to see all the camps we visited on our trip.
If you are travelling with a van on the ferry, then generally the cost can be anything between $1500 and $2000, depending on the length of you car and van combined.
But, if you have roadside recovery with certain companies you get a 5% reduction on the cost.
You have to be very careful when booking with regard to the total length you require for you car and possibly van.
I say this as I saw a family, also travelling with a van who’d underestimated their total length, being told that they would have to wait until the ferry authorities checked whether there would be enough room and also that would have to pay a surcharge for the extra length.
Definitely worth ensuring that your length and height measurements are correct.
Tarryn and I decided that due to recent reports of deaths of animals being transported on the Spirit and some very dissatisfied dog owners, that Ash and Tarryn would fly over instead of taking the ferry.
We’re glad we did, as when I boarded the ferry I was pretty appalled at the location where the dogs cages were located.
Also that there were obviously so many seriously stressed dogs …. and we hadn’t even left the port yet!
The dogs are kept in these cages for the entirety of the journey, with the owners not allowed to visit them once you’ve left port.
Or you can pre-arrange that they remain in your car or van if you sign an indemnity. But again, you are not allowed to check on their welfare during the journey.
We have heard a rumour that because of so many complaints by dog owners using the Spirit and also, I would presume, because of recent deaths that there is the possibility of specific cabins/areas being allocated where dogs will be allowed.
Just a rumour to date I believe, but fingers crossed.
As I mentioned earlier, we decided that the 2 Princesses, Ash and Tarryn, would fly from mainland Australia to Tasmania.
Compared to a 12 hour ferry crossing, the 45 minute flight that the girls would have to endure definitely seemed like the better deal of the two.
The girls ended up flying from Tullamarine in Melbourne to Devenport, Tasmania.
You have to arrange the correctly sized container for you dog to be transported.
We used the company Jetpets for this and found them to be very good.
Their website is extremely comprehensive regarding everything about transportation of your precious furry friend.
But, if you have any concerns about your pet travelling, they are more than happy to have a chat with you and allay any concerns.
A bowl of water is available for your dog in the crate and it will have some paper or other absorbent material on the floor.
We were advised that we could also include some form of ‘comforter’ for Ash in the crate, so we put a blanket in with her.
The plane that Tarryn and Ash flew on was a small propellor one that was quite badly affected by turbulence during the flight, with the landing being pretty violent.
Tarryn felt very concerned for Ash’s wellbeing during the time on board due to noise and the turbulence.
But thankfully both girls survived the flight with no ill effects.
At the Airport
First, you have to drop your precious pet off at the freight terminal, about an hour before making your own way to the domestic terminal.
We flew with Qantas who required a ‘Shipper’s Statement & Acknowledgement’ form prior to Ash being allowed to fly.
This is a really basic form which only takes a couple of minutes to fill out.
Top Tip if Flying
Book your flights to coincide with the cooler parts of the day.
This is because after your precious pet has been checked in and is in the crate it, along with all the other passengers luggage, is taken onto the tarmac at the plane waiting to be loaded.
This wait could be some time and if you are travelling in hot weather your pet could suffer.
A requirement that the Tasmanian Government places on dogs being allowed into the State, is that they must have been treated for Hydatid Tapeworm (Echinococcus Granulosus) within 14 days of travelling.
Click here for the Tasmanian Govt Information Document about import requirements for dogs.
Would We Take Ash To Tasmania Again?
In the present climate with the dogs being kept in cages on the ferry and the experience Tarryn and Ash had with the flight.
If the ferry were to have pet friendly cabins with places to exercise your dog onboard, then probably yes.
I am writing this from our personal experience and we did what we thought was best for Ash at the time.
I know that there are many travellers who have crossed the Bass Straight on the Spirit of Tasmania numerous times with pets, with no ill effects suffered which is fantastic.
Lets hope that the ferry company does make the crossing to Tasmania more stress free for owners and pets in the near future.