My sketchbook was packed. So was my travel palette. We had a bounty of food tips from Tasmanian friends. Places to see. Things to draw and experience. And we (I should say Stephen) drove to Port Melbourne and on to the ferry to Tasmania for a 12 and a bit day trip.

I know we are lucky in Australia. So far (touch wood) we have been able to escape the worst of the coronavirus pandemic. But after nearly four months of hard lockdown in Melbourne, close to a year working from home via zoom, and not even one tiptoe out of the city in over a year, my husband and I snatched at the brief window of opportunity to travel ‘over seas’ to Tasmania.

We booked the trip and then held our breath – probably an appropriate precaution during a pandemic. When an outbreak from quarantine hotels in Sydney spread to Melbourne, state borders shut and our plans were looking wobbly. Yet the breakout was contained and we were free to go just in time. Phew. 

A ferry trip from Melbourne to Devonport may not look like much to my international friends, but the world maps are forever misleading about the size of Australia. That tiny looking strip of blue between the mainland and Tasmania is the Bass Strait, and it is famous for wild sea rescues during the annual Sydney to Hobart yacht race. It is the luck of the draw – the water can be as flat as a billiard table, or surprise you with five or even ten (!!!) meter waves. It’s 429 kilometres of pot luck. 

It was a little ominous  when lightning flashed over Melbourne as we drove onto the Spirit of Tasmania. Fortunately Stephen had the forethought to pack sea sickness tablets. 

Did we need those sea sickness tablets? Oh yes.

We had a cabin and in the middle of the night I woke up with my feet flying above my head, alternating with flying down, just like being on a see saw. Or a sea saw in this case. 

We got there in one piece, but I can’t say I was looking forward to the return trip.

As we left the ferry we went through covid-19 checks and state border controls. The last words we heard there?

“You can take your masks off now”.

Wow. And we didn’t see anyone wearing a mask again until we boarded the ferry home. Because there have been no local cases in Tasmania since the very beginning of the pandemic, and we were coming from a safe zone too.

It felt so strange not to be wearing a mask in a shop – almost like being naked. We have been wearing masks in Melbourne for almost a year. We always carry them, and it is second nature to put them on when boarding a tram, or going into a shopping centre or cafe. For months we had to wear them the second we walked outside our homes too, even for our one hour’s exercise. Now the rules change back and forth about exactly where they are needed, depending on whether there is a case in the city or not, but they are still with us all the time.

So it felt strange. But so special too.

I was hoping to catch up with the Launceston Urban Sketchers, but the ferry was late arriving because of the rough seas. We drove through the city though, and stopped to wander through the centre for a while. It truly is a beautiful city. Of course I had to draw something, so I parked myself on a bench at the end of the Brisbane Street Mall to souvenir this old bank building.

Stephen went shopping and brought me a cool drink. Yes, he continues to be a wonderful husband, 33 years down the track. Obviously I was a child bride …. 🙂

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