Over Christmas I travelled with my partner and our dog Brodie all the way from home in Newcastle, to Tasmania to spend Christmas with family. I had so much fun and want to share all my tips and recommendations with you all. This post will cover the trip from Newcastle to Melbourne and getting on the Spirit of Tasmania. The drive takes around 10 hours all together, and we stopped for 1 night along the way at Hillview Farmstay. It isn’t too far from Gundagai, and is about the halfway point. It was also one of the few places that wasn’t too far off the highway that was dog friendly. The cabins were great. Pretty basic, but including a kitchenette, bbq, and king size bed. So really everything you need for a night. The staff were really lovely, and very happy to have Brodie there. For the most part she stayed on lead, but we were allowed to let her run around on the tennis court which was fenced, when it wasn’t in use by others. She also got to meet all the farm animals like ponies, sheep and cows.
As for other stops on the first day, we stuck to Service Centres along the highway to cut down on detours. For the most part these are quite well equipped with dog bowls and usually have green spaces for a walk and toileting. If travelling in the middle of summer be aware of the temperatures as it can be quite hot for dog paws on the concrete.
On day 2, we drove from Hillview Farmstay to Albury. Albury had some great dog parks. We went to the Logan Rd Off leash dog park which had great facilities including being fully fenced, agility equipment, water bowls, and paddling pools. We met some very friendly locals who pointed us in the direction of coffee once Brodie had a good run around. On the main street of Albury there were plenty of cafes and lots of them had outdoor tables so we had no trouble finding somewhere to sit outside with Brodie. From there we hit the road and made it to Melbourne, mid afternoon. We parked right at Port Melbourne and had a little picnic near there. There is a great walking path that goes from the Spirit of Tasmania terminal along the waterfront, which passes by a dog friendly beach, so we let Brodie have a swim and run around before getting on the boat. The ferry terminal got very busy with cars and camper trailers so I would recommend only heading down to that area close to boarding time, we were a little early. The check in process was very streamlined – the staff member gave us our room keys and we also had a quarantine official check Brodie’s paperwork, so it’s a good idea to have them handy. I’d also recommend having everything you need for the boat itself easy to get at, including bedding for the kennel. We were directed to one of the decks with kennels so once you we parked, we had to quickly grab everything we needed and put Brodie in her kennel for the night. It was a bit nerve wracking leaving her there, but I think she settled down quite quickly. Then we found our room and had a wine at the bar before bed!
Tips for the Spirit of Tasmania:
- It would be preferable if your dog is crate trained as that will replicate the kennels on the boat
- Make sure you’ve taken them for a walk to stretch their legs and go to the toilet as they will be in the kennel overnight
- Make sure you have something they are used to such as their bed, a blanket or toy
- Consider anti-anxiety medication if you feel your dog will be stressed. We discussed this with our vet who really helped us
- Don’t rush to get on the boat as once your dog goes in the kennel you won’t get to see them again. Boarding takes a couple of hours and there is not much benefit to getting on early for your dog
For more Information on Spirit of Tasmania and taking pets please click here