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Thursday 22 September 2022

Spirit of Tasmania: a major step forward or a ferry bad mistake?

Melbourne is a global city, alive with art, culture, fashion and gourmet attractions.

Geelong is a very nice place, but has none of these attributes.

But anyone wanting to catch a ferry from Tasmania to the Australian mainland will no longer be docking in Melbourne.

As of October 22, the Spirit of Tasmania ferry from Devonport to the mainland will bid farewell to Station Pier, Port Melbourne, and operate from a new "state-of-the-art" terminal, the Spirit of Tasmania Quay at Corio Bay in Geelong (above).

The TT Line, which operates the ferries, is beside itself with excitement, saying: "The brand-new, purpose-designed Spirit of Tasmania Quay terminal will be fitted with cutting-edge technology and exceptional facilities for an enhanced travel experience.

"With easy access and ample parking, undercover areas for vehicles, seamless boarding and security processes, and comfortable passenger lounge with a café and children's play area, our new Geelong terminal will make your journey truly unforgettable." 

Unfortunately, a lot of regular passengers, who actually want to go to Melbourne, are less than thrilled, as was underlined by a story in The Age newspaper this week.

The final sailing from Melbourne will depart Station Pier on the evening of Saturday, October 22, and the first sailing will arrive in Geelong at Spirit of Tasmania Quay on the morning of Sunday, October 23.

The change comes after 37 years and many people are asking a one-word question. Why?

Even the Spirit's own website is not sure how foot passengers will make their way from the new Quay in North Geelong to the city of Melbourne. 

"GeelongPort is working with the Department of Transport and City of Greater Geelong to investigate opportunities to connect Spirit of Tasmania Quay to surrounding transport hubs and popular destinations," it says.

The closest stations are North Shore Station and North Geelong Station.

The problem is that a simple look at Google Maps shows these are a 1.4km and 1.9km walk respectively from the terminal. That's a fair walk in the rain with a suitcase.

And people in the transport industry point out that freight will now have to go by road to and from Geelong, sometimes in peak-hour traffic, rather than being loaded and unloaded right on the Melbourne waterfront. 

Oops! But I'm sure someone has done well out of the new $135 million, 12-hectare passenger and freight terminal.

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