One of the many things I love about living on Bruny is the ferry ride which is our physical link to the world beyond. Call it romantic, call it escapist, the knowledge that for 12 minutes as we make the crossing we are neither here nor there fills me with delight. As does the fact that in the almost 12 hours from dark to dawn when the ferry doesn’t run we are indeed an island. What’s the old Manly Ferry promo line; ‘Seven miles from Sydney and a thousand miles from care’? In our case it’s 1.3 nautical miles across the D’Entrecasteaux Channel from Roberts Point (Bruny ) to Kettering (off island) but I reckon we’re a whole lot more carefree here than in Sea Eagle heartland so distance isn’t everything.
In our (limited) experience the Ferry is one of the most discussed topics on Bruny, whether it be the machinations behind the awarding of the current contract; the merits of one ferry over another; the proposed booking system or the queues that form during the holiday season.
Until very recently the MV Mirambeena ruled the stretch of water between Kettering and Roberts Point and was universally loved. Her retirement in May was widely lamented and even the Premier paid tribute to her 30 years of ferrying locals and visitors across the Channel. I must admit to a lump in the throat when she made her lonely way past our house on her way up to Hobart and her future after her last official run.
The Mirambeena was replaced by the Parrabah which joined the Nairana in forming the Bruny Fleet. Back up is supplied by the Bowen which is not widely loved – mostly I suspect because she doesn’t have splash guards and there is a fair chance you and your car could cop a wave (or two) if it’s choppy. There was a lot of doubting that the new team would be up to the job, mostly because the Mirambeena’s double deck gave extra carrying capacity, but a new timetable with additional sailings and quicker turnarounds has been introduced and from our experience it’s ‘so far so good’, though we must bide our time until the holidays to make a final call.
Queues and the Bruny Island Ferry go hand in hand in peak holiday season and there is even a Facebook Page devoted to the topic. We quickly became familiar with terms such as ‘up past Pashas’ and ‘into the hotel car park’ to describe the length. Sometimes needs must so it’s always good to be armed with water, a book and a sense of inevitability.
There is a misconception that residents get preferential treatment in terms of getting on the ferry. Not so. The coveted ‘R’ sticker on the car gives us a cheaper rate but we line up along with everyone else. Occasionally the Golf and I are called forward out of turn to fill up one of the tight spaces under the wheelhouse/passenger lounge but that’s about all the favoritism that comes our way – and as many drivers hate this space it can also be looked on as a punishment!
Every vehicle that comes to Bruny arrives via ferry so on any trip you can be bumper to bumper, door to door, with cars, motorbikes, cyclists, tradies, heavy machinery, buses, trucks, campervans, caravans and anything else you can think of. Pedestrians travel for free and have the luxury of an elevated lounge ( unless the Bowen’s been bought into service). Visitors get out, take selfies and marvel at the experience; locals text, read or have a quick shut eye.
All too soon the trip is over, we start our engines and wait to be called forward by the ever smiling Sealink staff, over the ramp, on the road and back to reality.
Before I close a big shout out to the beautiful Suzie from Campbelltown (Tasmania) who Ruby and I met on the beach yesterday afternoon and who follows our adventures. She is here with her husband Bruce and dog Ella. I was so excited to know that someone other than those of you who have to ( i.e. family and friends) read what we have to say!
Love from the Island xx (and tell me that you’re not humming Ferry Cross the Mersey!)