Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Ferry and The Heads

Here is the Spirit of Tasmanian setting off for Devonport on our island state of Tasmania from Melbourne in Victoria. She has just left Station Pier and came into view from behind a building on a sunny morning.


I would by lying if I said it was on the same day and the very different weather makes it obvious, but about 3.5 hours after her departure from Station Pier she is about to pass through Port Phillip Heads at the mouth of Port Phillip Bay. Depending on forecast demand, she sails once of twice a day to and from Devonport. While her single sailing day times are firmly planted in my head, seeing her at very different times on double sailing days does my head in.


The path for ships through the naturally shallow bay is tightly defined and is dredged. The gap between Point Nepean and Point Lonsdale is known as The Rip and it is a narrow passage and very treacherous. The passage was was exploded apart a few years ago to allow ships with a deeper draught to enter the bay. While government authorities deny it, the popular view is that it has drastically changed some beaches and almost taken away the Portsea Beach, which is quite ironic as it is location for rich people's holiday houses, that is those who probably benefit from larger ships coming through The Heads.

Here is a simple map of Port Phillip Bay from Wikipedia, clearly showing places I have mentioned and you can see how narrow The Rip is, and during tidal changes a huge amount of water flows through The Rip. With the exception of the Spirit of Tasmanian, a quite small ship, every other ship passing through The Heads needs a pilot boat. The pilot boats zoom out from Queenscliff to meet arriving and departing ships and travel along side of them. The Port of Melbourne is Australia's busiest port, so there is lots of work for the pilot boats.

You can refer back to the map when reading subsequent posts about our little Easter holiday. We stayed in Point Lonsdale.

24 comments:

  1. Heading off to Tassie in a couple of weeks. My work colleague is trying to be a bit more environmental and prefers alternatives to flying. He will take the Spirit of Tassie back to Melbourne....even though it was so much more expensive than flying.

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    1. Ad Rad, it is much cheaper to fly and hire a car than pay for your car on the ferry.

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  2. The Rip is indeed narrow. Very, very narrow. It probably doesn't reflect well on me, but I am chuckling at the thought that it is the rich beaches which suffered after the explosion.

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    1. EC, it was with some glee I read the news about the Portsea Beach being washed away.

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  3. I never knew it was so enclosed, it is a very narrow entrance.
    Oh those rich people life is so sad for them.
    Merle..........

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    1. Merle, I don't see you crying with sadness for them!

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  4. I can't teach the same topic simultaneously to more than one class each year. It does my head in too. Perhaps there is something in our brain in which we compartmentalise things.

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    1. Carol, what you say makes sense. You would never know what stage you were at with each group.

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  5. She's a lovely ship, the Spirit of Tasmania.
    I enlarged the map to better see The rip, it really is quite narrow, I'm surprised the bigger ships can get through.

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    1. River, I think it is large enough for the biggest ship, and then a bigger ship will be built and they will want to blast again.

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  6. I'm glad you added the last sentence about being your little Easter holiday. I was wondering how you could see the ship from the high rise. We have stayed at Rye a few times. It is nice down there.

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    1. Yes Diane, we only see it as it departs, not normally going through The Heads. Yes, I remember your son in law's parents live there. I like Rye. As a kid, we had a couple of holidays there.

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  7. Andrew nice journey I love ferries

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    1. Gosia, it is quite a nice overnight ferry trip.

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  8. Aw, those poor little rich people. I'd love to take the ferry!

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    1. Cranky, you can book your ferry trip and take your car with you on the ferry, but it is cheaper to fly and hire a car. Nevertheless, one day I will make the ferry trip.

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  9. I think Fremantle is a tricky entrance also Andrew.. I hope a big one comes in when you're here.. ship I mean :) must admit I'm as keen on sea cruises as I am on flying.. two words Poseidon and Titanic :)

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    1. But Grace, ships can't sink now....oh, they said that about the Titanic nearly a hundred years ago. Big one? Who has been telling tales?

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  10. The very different weather conditions undoubtedly make a difference, but some people are just wusses. Spouse and I went on a day that _I_ thought was as smooth as glass. I had the most fun ever!

    Spouse lay on the bed the entire time, moaning and groaning about the end of his life, ring the children to tell them their dad loved them, his will is in the bank vault etc

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    1. Hels, I had a good chuckle. Sea sickness for men is worse than a man cold.

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  11. Just catching up on what I missed over Easter.
    Have lots count how many times I have done that journey. Never felt the rip, always been asleep. Lucky I guess.

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    1. Margaret, you do drop off quickly. Clearly you sleep the sleep of the innocent.

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  12. Darling Andrew, Costa Concordia ring any bells?

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    1. Indeed it does Jah The. When we were looking at Mediterranean cruises, we avoided that company.

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