Postcard from Tasmania: Port Melbourne to Devonport

A few days after Christmas we packed up Mum and Dad’s new SUV and piled in for the 3 hour drive to Port Melbourne before boarding the Spirit of Tasmania. We arrived early to allow enough time to grab some dinner, which was important given we were sharing the journey with two small boys who need to have blood sugar levels maintained at all times – especially when asked to wait quietly in a car for 90 minutes before we were allowed to drive on to the ship. We finally boarded and, after parking our car in the bowels of the vessel, walked the 5 flights of stairs up to our teeny tiny little cabin.


I’m surprised I didn’t take any photos of the cabin with my big camera but, luckily (or unfortunately), Kei managed to snap this gem on our way back that shows how we squeezed into the cozy living quarters.

A couple of tips for traveling on The Spirit of Tasmania:

  1. Pack an overnight bag and make it easy to access because they don’t mess around when they’re trying to move you from your car to your cabin. The cars are parked very tightly and there’s not much room to maneuver when everyone is trying to get to their cabin at the same time.
  2. Pack some medication to avoid sea sickness – even if you don’t think you’ll need it. We were blessed with two very smooth crossings but I was still surprised by the movement of the ship as we exited Port Philip Bay at around 11pm. At first I could hear the water sloshing in the toilet and then the movement became enough for me to reach for another pill. Thankfully, the kids slept through the worst of it.
  3. Be prepared to be woken at 5am by a loud speaker announcement. Although we were due to disembark at 6am, the process actually begins much earlier and I felt rushed to gather our stuff together. It didn’t help that Thomas slept through the announcement and all the activity. Poor kid didn’t even have time to brush his teeth.

We were blessed with great weather during most of our trip and the departure from Port Melbourne was no exception as, although it was a little chilly, we were able to witness an incredible sunset over the bay.

(Very) early the next morning, we drove off the ship on a mission to find breakfast in Devonport. Devonport, like most of Tasmania, often gives you the feeling of being transported back in time thanks to the prevalence Victorian architecture and the absence of modern buildings in some parts of the state.

We had breakfast next door to these beautiful terraces.

After breakfast we drove about an hour to Launceston where we enjoyed the first day of our Tasmanian adventure. But that’s for another post… I’ll be back with more stories from Tasmania soon.

More Aussie Summer Frolicking: The Pool

While Christmas day in Australia was a highlight, it was just one day in week-long relaxing holiday in the country. Well, it was relaxing for me. May not have felt the same way to my Mum and Dad who were busy hosting a revolving door of visitors.

I think I’ve mentioned before that this visit was a special one for me, not just because I was able to spend time with my family, but because it was our first Aussie Christmas since Thomas was just 3 months old. Christmas is an expensive time of the year to travel to Australia – it’s a big holiday that it falls in the middle of Summer which means costly airfares. And, while that makes for an expensive vacation, it also means plenty of opportunities to spend time outside during the most wonderful time of the year. On the flip side, it can also mean plenty of HOT days when all you want to do is hibernate inside the nice cool house and avoid the swarm of flies that seem to appear every time you step out the back door. The other option on a hot day? The pool.

I grew up in a suburb of Melbourne where the local pool was the Summer gathering place to keep the neighborhood kids cool on those hot humid days. Fun fact: the pool in our neighborhood was attached to a Tupperware facility. It was free at certain times of the day and rumor has it that the water was heated as part of the process for cooling the Tupperware plastics. I hear it’s now a gathering place for the neighborhood ducks.

My parents now live in a country town on the Victoria/NSW border and, like a lot of small towns, it also has a neighborhood pool. Unfortunately it is just a little too far of a walk on a hot day with small children and shade was surprisingly hard to come by which is a big no-no in a country that aggressively pushes the “slip slop slap” message thanks to our very own giant hole in the ozone layer. But, lucky for us, my parents have neighbors with a pool and they kindly offered it up for our use while they were out of town over the holiday. The bonus was that we had it all to ourselves and that meant hours of fun.

Ahhhh, the Aussie Summer. There’s nothing else quite like it.

And that completes the first part of our Aussie vacation. Next time I’ll start posting highlights from our trip to Tasmania where we encountered everything from penguins to ghosts and devils to criminals. Back soon.

Christmas Down Under

I know, I know… it’s been almost three months since Christmas but things have been a little nuts around here. The good news is the search for a full time job is well underway and, in the meantime, I managed to land some work through my brand new LLC, Lyrebird Images. Well, the Lyrebird Images part has been around for a while but today I made it official. AND we bought a new camera.

Next on the agenda? Business Cards.

But back to the purpose of my post. Christmas in Australia. It was warm, it was family-filled and it was fun.

There are few places on earth where a morning of opening Christmas gifts can be followed by a run down the slip-n-slide and I was so excited to be able to share this with my children. Sure, snow and ice can make for a pretty and cozy Christmas, but my childhood will always be filled with the memories of playing outside, cold drinks and icy poles on the veranda and cooking a hot dinner even when the temperature sometimes tops 40 degrees celsius (104F).

Of course, there cannot be presents without first leaving out the traditional beer and biscuits for Santa and some carrots for the reindeer. I just love all the fake smiles in this photo. It cracks me up every single time. Oh, and it should be noted that they’re wearing their new Christmas Eve pajamas.

On Christmas morning we opened stockings and tried to avoid stepping on the soccer cards that had mysteriously multiplied like gremlins.

And then “Santa” came out to open the presents under the tree and it might have been the best moment of the morning.

Negotiating the gift-giving strategy.

Uncle Jono received a new umbrella that came all the way from America with a side of campy photo opportunity.

The best part about the gift giving were the accompanying hugs.

And the candy canes that Santa left in our stockings.

This is, by far, my favorite photo of the day. Who else can boast a Clarke Griswold photobomb?

The boys received more than a few Aussie soccer-related items.

And Ben received this headband…

Mum received three bottles of Clinique lotion. She asked for it and we all delivered!

And then everyone checked out their loot and read the instructions…

…Until it was finally time to carve the roast beast.

A wonderful, hot and sunny Christmas Day to remember.