Traveling to Tasmania

MARCH 16 : Today is the big day. The day that I have been dreaming of in detail for the past year. This is the morning we meet our campervan – our new home for the next few months.

Britz, the company that we are renting the campervan from, recommends on their website to arrive with minimal luggage, because there is not much room in the van. However, I do things my way – and we showed up with nine pieces – 3 huge suitcases, 2 carry on suitcases (all with their extensions unzipped), a large backpack, my handbag, a wine carrier with bottles of kosher wine and a laundry bag full of dirty clothes from the weekend (couldn’t fit it into the suitcases).

I have spent the last few months thinking over and over, what can I bring to make our life in the campervan more comfortable? What will turn the van into a home? The answer is nine bags full.

This morning, we took an Uber to the west side of Melbourne where Britz is located. I assumed that due to the corona virus, we would be the only ones picking up campervan and that they would be eagerly awaiting us. Yes, they were waiting for us, but also for many other families that were renting campervans. The place was busy.

We checked in and received our van. They upgraded us from Britz to Maui – same van, but a newer model. After receiving instructions about every little button on the van, inside and out, we then needed to empty our many suitcases, so we could leave them in storage (no room for suitcases in the campervan). As we started taking things out, I kept wondering, what was I thinking? Why did I bring that? Do we really need 20 different hooks? Why three different lanterns (one for eating outside, one for very small one for hiking with, one medium one for walking at night with….) A raincoat for warm days, a raincoat for cold days, and rain ponchos? An overwhelming number of items that all need to fit into a very limited space.

Realizing that we cannot now take the time to organize everything properly (we have a ferry to catch), we managed to stuff most everything into the cabinets so that we could drive away. Before driving in the campervan you need to ensure that all items are put away, all cabinets are securely closed, that the fridge is well shut, that the bathroom door is properly closed – otherwise you might be in for some flying objects while driving.

Mark has driven in the past on the left, and we have done large motorhome trips before, but never both together. The first few moments behind the wheel were a bit tense (Mark, you are too close to the side!) but he did fine and we arrived safely at Coles, a large grocery store about three kilometers away. The idea was to get our basic supplies, but this was a huge store with empty shelves – no toilet paper, no hand soap, no pasta, no rice, no paper towels, no sandwich bags. We bought a few staples that were in stock – olive oil, aluminum foil, and got the last remaining bottle of dishwashing liquid. In a neighboring pharmacy we managed to find Kleenex (limit one per customer) and hand soap (only a boutique brand at three times the price – but we need to wash our hands).

From there we made our way to the Spirit of Tasmania – that it the name of the ferry that travels between Melbourne and Devonport, Tasmania. The trip covers 429 kilometers and takes 11 hours. Since we are on the night ferry, and you are not allowed to stay in your vehicle during the passage, we took a cabin for the voyage.  The ferry left Melbourne just after sunset and watching the lights come on in the city was spectacular. The boat itself is large. Aside from cabins, there are restaurants, two small cinemas (Frozen 2 and Star Wars are playing), a lounge with live entertainment, a game room, and an information hub. The information hub is an area with dozens of brochures of what to do in Tasmania. While collecting some brochures, they put up a notice that MOMA – the famous museum in Hobart, Tasmania that you reach by boat and that we have tickets to visit at the end of the month – has closed indefinitely due to the virus. I really feel that we are travelling in the shadow of Corona-19. Our plan of action once we reach Tasmania, is to go only to places where there are more trees than people. That should hopefully keep us healthy.

In the meantime, I am just hoping for smooth sailing. And of course, I packed motion sickness pills in case it’s not.

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