Spirit of Tasmania


I recently went on a road trip to the North Island (that’s the Australian Mainland, for all you non-Tasmanians) and took my car with me. The only way to make this trip is via the Spirit of Tasmania ferries.

These twin ships are imaginatively called Spirit of Tasmania 1 and Spirit of Tasmania 2. .


Spirit 2. #1 looks very similar…

From Tasmania, they leave from the city of Devonport, and dock in Port Melbourne in Victoria. They make both day and night crossings in opposite directions between September and April, but for the colder months, only night crossings are made.  



Day sailings depart each port at 9:00am and arrive at their destinations at 6:00pm. Night sailings leave at 7.30pm and have you docked by 6am the next day.

I went on a night crossing for two reasons: (1) I wanted a good night’s sleep before a long drive the next day, and (2) I went in August – no day crossings were possible.

It’s a great way to visit Tasmania and bring your vehicle of choice with you for the ride. Or if you’re like me and visit the North Island in the comfort of your own car.

The ships pass each other in the night, which is quite exciting… until you realise it’s at about 2am and the middle of Bass Strait. I’m sure this but is more fun for the day sailors, who may catch a glimpse of the sister ship out at sea.

When ships don’t pass in the night.

Boarding is nice and easy. When you book, you register your vehicle and the nice people waiting to check you in look up your number plate while you’re waiting in line and have everything you need ready for you when you drive on board. (You do need to provide id to these people, but I’ll assume that as you’re driving, you will have your driver’s license handy…).

The stuff they give you when boarding

Boarding in Devonport

Always remember where you park…!

Your passengers can drive on with you. If you don’t have a car, there is easy access to board on foot.

The ships have 10 decks, 1-6 for vehicles (from semi-trailers to motor bikes). Deck Seven is where most of the passenger facilities are: dining, bars, cinemas, information booths, etc. The rest is full of cabins, bars, children’s entertainment areas and lounges.

Stairs between decks. There are lifts, too.

Pipe organ?

Weird lounges


From sunny Finland


Dining area

Lounges. This appears deserted, but I took this at about 11pm.

I’m sure that there is a bridge somewhere, so the captain can pilot the ship through hyperspace…

Hopefully no one will sue me for posting this

Hyperspace/ Bass Strait… same thing, right?

Have a read here to see what’s available on board. The food in the buffet is pretty good.

There is a choice of accommodation available. I booked myself an internal cabin. There are outer cabins available with port holes and more deluxe cabins with queen beds, but I figured as it would be dark for the whole trip, I would not see an awful lot. For travellers who don’t wish to splurge on accommodation, you get a comfy deck chair all to yourself to rest your weary head.


Leaving Devonport. On the Mersey River. No jokes about Ferry Across the Mersey, please…

Fares are reasonable… and there are often specials available. Both crossings for my voyage were very smooth, with minimal swells. Please keep in mind Bass Strait is sometimes affected by strong currents and can be a little rough. But I’m sure it’s just like any other sea crossing.

Just like any other sea crossing…


I travelled on both ships, and unsurprisingly… they appear exactly the same.

Arrived in Melbourne

You get a 05:45am wake up call via the ship-wide intercom, and you are already at your destination. Disembarking begins at 06:30am. I was on my way and off the ship by 7 on both trips.

Return trip – boarding in Melbourne

It was a lot of fun, especially with the opportunity to enjoy a bit of an ocean voyage.


Thanks for reading!



kunanyi / Mount Wellington Tracks Closed – updated 6 September 2018

Hello folks,

I’ve posted a few reports of the local mountain trails for Hobart and surrounds in my blog. Late last week we had a ridiculous amount of rain in a short period, and while many homes and businesses were flooded, our mountain received the most amount of rain ever in a 24 hour period.

If you read my posts and think ‘I’ll head up there for a walk’, please check out these pages first:





Thanks for reading.


Sharp pointy things

Writing fiction is good fun. You make something up and then write it down.

Yes, it’s that simple.

Of course, there are many rules you need to follow when you write stuff down. English is like the law; there are many rules that we must follow. Of course, unlike the law, English rules are not policed very well. Except by Grammar Nazi’s.

I’m guilty of many crimes against English in my writing, and I don’t profess to be any good at it.

A while back I considered how I would describe a combat scene. I found it easier to act out the scene myself (from one character’s point of view), so it would be easier to write down, and express on a page. A blow-by-blow (pun intended) description of what happened.

Here’s a short example from Outsider: Deliverance

Duncan readied his shield and kept his nerves as calm as he could. He positioned himself to receive the creature’s charge. It hit the shield with a muffled clang, its decomposed vocal chords uttered a low moan at the outsider. Duncan used the shield to keep the monster at bay and shouldered it backwards, into the tiled wall of the temple where he pinned the ghoul against the wall. He grimaced as the creature lashed at him over the rim of his shield, but it failed to connect. Duncan ended the fight with a swift roundhouse swing of his sword over the top of his shield that decapitated the ghoul.

I do write a lot about combat; melee, brawls, fracas, fights, hostilities, and the like. In researching my work, or ‘how to write realistic battle scenes where it is actually based on something that could happen rather than something you’d see in a Hollywood film’, I came across the work of a fellow called Guy Windsor. Guy writes about, does videos and runs classes and the like on how to do stuff with swords. That’s an over-simplification, but I’m sure you get the meaning.

So, I got myself a really good sword and acted out the fights I would write about. This, I found, is an awful lot of fun.

A little while ago I had the pleasure of giving comment on a manuscript that Guy wrote. It’s called The Theory and Practice of Historical Martial Arts. Any of Guy’s work is worth a look if you’re into swords, historical combat, looking to form a club with like-minded people or if you’re like me and you’re seeking ways to make stuff up and write it down in a more realistic way.

Guy’s book. Click on the image to go to his web page thingy.

For those interested, the sword I bought was made for me by a fellow called Vaughn Morphett, who does some work out of a shop called Hammer and Hand in Salamanca Place, in Hobart. Its sharp; the blade is carbon steel. It’s a fantastic sword, if you’re in to that sort of thing. When I collected it, I remember he said, “This is a sword you could take to war.”

click on the image for a bigger view

I hope it won’t come to that, but I should be okay when the zombie apocalypse happens. Hopefully you don’t read a post in future that begins, “I cut my ear off while practicing today…”

Thanks for reading!



Bush Walking/ Hiking – Chauncy Vale + Browns Cave

Today I took a trudge out to Chauncy Vale and Brown’s Cave.

Why did I do that? I haven’t been on a trudge in a while; I’ve had a few injury issues. Fingers crossed that they are all behind me. And please, no need to send money for my recovery – I’m okay.

Chauncy Vale is not too far from Hobart, as you can hopefully see on the map below. Thanks as always to our good friends at Google Maps.

(click on each image for a larger version)

It seemed like a good short one to do. It’s an easy-ish track, if you’re moderately fit and experienced at bush walking. As always, watch where your feet go. Tree roots and rocks will do their best to trip you. And there are some ledges higher in the hills that have no barriers or protections.

The last 3 or 4 kilometres of the drive to the car park is on an unsealed road, but is easily passable by two-wheel-drive vehicles. There is a gate, but it only ‘looks’ locked. Please ensure you close the gate behind you, and there is a donation box.

For more info about the donation box, the area and its history, please have a look at the website: http://www.chauncyvale.com.au/

The only wild life I saw was a couple of friendly pademelons. Oh, and the guy at the start of the trek, but he didn’t look very wild. His beard was very neatly trimmed. He looked like he worked there.

I saw him near the visitor book.

Plenty of room for parking, and as always, my car probably won’t be there when you go. Make your way to the gate and set off.

The route is well signed, marked out and easy to follow. Follow these signs, as it would be very easy to get lost if you go off into the woods.

To get to the caves, follow the copious ‘CAVES’ signs. The trek tot he caves starts to ascend very early on.

There are other caves besides Brown’s Cave. I looked at a few of them. They are pretty amazing formations.

For my fellow fantasy-lovers, I did check the caves for secret underdark entrances and found one. This rather dejected Beholder would not let me past. He reminds me of a really grumpy M+M.

‘You get in the bowl’

I do not know what that black thing is on the roof.

Once done cave-exploring, take care and make your way downhill to the valley floor to continue exploring, or head back to the car park.

I’m not sure who Eve is. I suspect I should have read some of the area’s history.

She wasn’t having a bath when I walked past.

Here’s a link to my Endomondo workout.

There are a number of walks that can be done in and around Chauncy Vale. The Brown’s Cave Trek is only 3km. With the trudging up and down hills and rocky bits (and some exploring) it took me about an hour.

Thanks for reading!



(picture of the Beholder taken from http://geekrampage.blogspot.com.au/2016/09/trouble-in-mantol-derith-out-of-abyss.html )

Bush Walking/ Hiking – Canoe Bay/ Bivouac Bay

Today I trudged to Bivouac Bay, on the Tasman Peninsula. I heard a rumour that the wreck of the William Pitt at Canoe Bay (on the route to Bivouac Bay) was in fact filled with pirate treasure, and could not resist the lure of sunken treasure.

Tasmania is renowned as the Treasure Island, after all.

(thanks, of course, to Robert Louis Stevenson, and his estate…)

How do you get to Bivouac Bay?

I asked myself this same question earlier. Luckily, I figured it out. You don’t have to; I’ll spell it out for you.

Get yourself to Fortescue Bay, park your car, walk roughly north. (Walk to the beach and turn left, for the geographically-challenged among you).


I’ve discussed Fortescue Bay before, and the entry requirements.



Thanks again to Google Maps, they will show you the easiest route.

Follow the beach until you find the walking track and follow it.

Yes, it’s that simple.


The track is easy to follow, although it is a little overgrown in some places. It’s not a well-worked track like the Three Capes highways. The usual tree roots, rock and other bits & pieces will try to trip you up as you go.

Cape Hauy can be seen in the background

About 2.5km in, you will see a fork in the trail.

Wander down the right-hand side for an up-close view of the sunken pirate ship.

I was ready to jump in the water to retrieve the pirate treasure, when before I knew it, the guardian seagull appeared. I was put off by its steely resolve and burning gaze. So, I thought it best to continue my walk; and look to retrieve the treasure another day.

Seagull… looks really fierce.

To continue to Bivouac Bay, take the left-hand trail.

Canoe Bay is quite picturesque.

You have to cross the suspension bridge, and of course there are questions to answer from the keeper of the Bridge of Death.

KEEPER: What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?

KING ARTHUR: What do you mean? An African or European swallow?

(Thanks, Monty Python…).


Ahead after you pass the test is a hill, which covers the whole bit between Canoe Bay and Bivouac Bay. It’s not overly steep (about 100m ascent), but it does go for about a kilometre. Which means, it’s another kilometre to climb and descend back…

Once you get to Bivouac Bay, there is a bivouac (camp site) and a bay.

No surprises there…

Turn around and walk back; or if you’re feeling adventurous, you can continue to walk to Waterfall Bay (which is a bit of trek…).

On the way back, I had a chat to this Ent, who was quite friendly. He didn’t say a lot, but he seemed friendly.

(Ents, for those who are yet to read or see Lord of the Rings, are active, talking trees).

Fortescue Bay

My Endomondo tracker thingy says I walked 11km. It took me three and a half hours, but that included stopping for loads of pictures, talking with Ents, passing tests at the Bridge of Death and staring at the seagull.

Thanks for reading!


Bush Walking/ Hiking – Kelly Basin/ East Pillinger

Today I ventured out to Kelly Basin and an abandoned town called East Pillinger, on Tasmania’s West Coast.

Of course, the irony of a town called east something, but being on the west coast, is not lost on me…

How do you get there? Well, by now I should have shares in Google Maps, but here goes…

The drive isn’t far in terms of actual kilometres, but the road is not a straight freeway. If you drive through Queenstown and follow Conlan Street which will lead you out of Queenstown and onto Mt Jukes Road. If your mobile phone is with Telstra, it’s probable you will lose coverage when you see this to your left:

Follow the road until you get here:

The narrow 4wd track should be easily passable for 2wd cars. I can only imagine if the track is wet and muddy, 2wd’s may have difficulty pulling over to the side to let others pass.

You’re probably wondering why I drove all the way to Kelly Basin, just to walk out into Macquarie Harbour? I recently discovered the journal of Sir Percival Drake, a famed knight and adventurer, who made the journey many years before me. His journal tells the tale of his travels to recover the lost Iron WarMace of Glusp*. I wanted to follow in his footsteps.

The last journey to rescue the Lady Barrington was a dreadful waste of time. Once I’d saved the girl, I realised I didn’t actually like her very much. Oh well. I’ve come here to East Pillinger for the Iron WarMace of Glusp. I’ve tracked it here, as I understand the evil witch Olga Jinx has taken it and is laired in the ruins at the end of the trail.

I imagine Sir Percival found the track just as I did today; it was very wet underfoot in some places, but overall very level. A couple of very minor inclines only. It’s worth mentioning the wetness. Come prepared for muddy feet.

Despite my preparedness; I coated myself with a potion that the wizard said would protect me from arachnids and insects. But still, I was forced to fight my way past her relentless spider minions.

I think Sir Percival may have used something similar to what I did today.

I also popped on my Gaiters of Protection +2.

The rivers ran red with the blood of Olga Jinx’s enemies, but I would not be deterred. I sallied forth, and defeated the thunder serpent she sent to slay me.

I did encounter a tiger snake, but neither my nor its blood stained the river. It fled at my approach, as most snakes do. Not my approach, anyone’s.

Once at the end of the trek, the remains of East Pillinger are laid out for exploring.

I entered the ruins, and inside encountered the vile witch. We fought, and I emerged victorious. I took the WarMace and will return with it to my home.

Sadly, Sir Percival didn’t make it home. What happened to him is a mystery, but the WarMace is still there to see. No one is willing to take it; it may be cursed.


I mulled over Sir Percival’s fate while I ate my lunch on the new jetty.

Here’s the old one:

The jetty’s both sit in Macquarie Harbour; it’s such a beautiful spot.

For those interested, here is what Macquarie Harbour looks like from a different angle.

Once you’re done, retrace your steps.

Here’s a link to my Endomondo workout. It says I walked about 12km, which includes the exploring at the end.

Thanks for reading!




* I made these bits up for my own amusement.