East Devonport, 7310, Tasmania
Let’s journey back to where it all began…1985, a year of big hair, ripped jeans and neon clothing. Bob Hawke was PM. Melbourne celebrated its 150th year. Neighbours debuted on network television…
And TT-Line, the operator of Spirit of Tasmania, was born.
On 1 July 1985, TT-Line began operating passenger and vehicle transport across Bass Strait on the German-built Abel Tasman. This ship maintained regular and reliable service until 1993, when she was replaced by the much larger “original” Spirit of Tasmania. Only 11 metres shorter than the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), this gleaming white empress of the sea could carry more than 1300 passengers. The same year, TT-Line separated from the Department of Transport and became a corporation wholly owned by the Tasmanian Government.
In 1997, things kicked up a notch with the introduction of the Devil Cat, a Tasmanian-built catamaran that took just six hours to travel from George Town in Tasmania’s north to Station Pier in Port Melbourne. The speedy vessel operated during the summer peak season in conjunction with the original Spirit of Tasmania from 1997 to 2002.
The iconic red-and-white ships we know today as Spirit of Tasmania I and II replaced the original Spirit of Tasmania in 2002. Constructed in Finland in 1998 and previously operated in Greece and Italy, these two monohull vessels made their dual maiden voyages on 1 September.
In 2004, a third vessel was introduced to the Spirit of Tasmania fleet, operating between Sydney and Tasmania. Spirit of Tasmania III sailed between Darling Harbour and Devonport overnight, taking approximately 22 hours. While very popular with passengers at the time, the Sydney to Tassie route was discontinued in 2006.
To this day, Spirit of Tasmania I and II continue to transport passengers, passenger vehicles and freight between Melbourne and Tasmania. In 2015, the two vessels underwent a major refurbishment, with their interiors being completely refitted and redesigned.
And while the ships today may look vastly different from those of yesteryear, the brilliant sunsets and stunning vistas of the Strait just cannot be replaced.