Loading the Spirit of Tasmania

The Spirit of Tasmania is a roll-on/roll-off ferry that carries road vehicles as well as passengers between the island state of Tasmania and the rest of Australia. Two vessels operate the service across Bass Strait – MV Spirit of Tasmania I and MV Spirit of Tasmania II.

Spirit of Tasmania I enters Port Phillip Bay

Melbourne is the mainland port of the ferry, with the ferry operating out of a terminal at Station Pier in Port Melbourne.

Spirit of Tasmania II moored at Station Pier

Loading of the Spirit of Tasmania for the overnight voyage starts in the afternoon, with dozens of semi-trailer loads of freight being loaded onboard the vessel.

Entrance to the Spirit of Tasmania freight yard at Station Pier

The ferry arrives bow first into the berth, with vehicle access to the cargo decks via two sets of ramps – each at a different height.

Loading another semi-trailer into the Spirit of Tasmania II

Deck 5 on the upper level is loaded via a door in the forward deck.

20 foot ISO container on a trailer being loaded onto the Spirit of Tasmania II

Deck 3 on the lower level is loaded via a pair of doors in the bow, located just above the waterline.

Bow doors of the Spirit of Tasmania II opened for loading

Altogether there are five vehicle decks on the Spirit of Tasmania:

  • Deck 1 and 2 are single ended, and are only accessible via a ramp at the front of deck 3.
  • Deck 3 has the highest clearance and runs the length of the ship.
  • Deck 4 doesn’t appear to exist.
  • Deck 5 runs the length of the vessel, but has restricted clearances along the centre lanes.
  • Deck 6 is a mezzanine level above deck 5.

Semi-trailers are the first to be loaded into the cargo hold.

Hauling another trailer into the upper cargo deck of the Spirit of Tasmania II

Truck drivers drop off their trailers in the freight yard, with specialised ‘roro tractors’ being used to load them into the confined space of the cargo decks.

Roro tractor at work moving refrigerated trailers onto the Spirit of Tasmania

The passenger terminal is located next to the ferry, and is located over two levels.

Spirit of Tasmania II moored at Station Pier

Passengers bringing their cars along for the trip are required to pass a security inspection on arrival at Station Pier.

Security checks for vehicles boarding the Spirit of Tasmania

They are then sent to the far end of the pier to queue for boarding.

Cars waiting to board the Spirit of Tasmania II

The stern of the Spirit of Tasmania has multiple loading ramps, which are used to unload the vessel at the Tasmanian end of the voyage.

Stern end of the Spirit of Tasmania II

As for passengers on foot,they much a much less salubrious entry to the ship – this austere looking doorway located just above the waterline near the stern.

Passenger entrance to the Spirit of Tasmania II - right at the stern!

Bonus footage

Some footage from YouTube.

First off, arriving at Station Pier in Melbourne and being loaded into deck 2, followed by driving off at the Devonport end.

And the view from the upper deck – being loaded onto deck 5 at the Melbourne end of the voyage:

And finally – dry docked in Sydney.

Further reading

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7 Responses to “Loading the Spirit of Tasmania”

  1. scott says:

    I still remember fairstar the fun ship – and the TV jingle

  2. xyz says:

    The loading procedures are pretty bad. In Melbourne you get a thingo to hang on your mirror only for them to ask for it back about 5 minutes later… Boarding involves sitting in your car for 2 hours(so do a maccas run before hand). When the right hand lane and left hand lane start to move as they are the first on, people in the middle lanes decide ‘hey if they’re going I’m going’.

    The other thing that seriously needs to be redesigned is the car decks. It seems they have been designed for the original mini. It is really really hard to get in or out if you are in the middle lane of cars or even on the outside because the space between your car and the car next to you is so small.

    Anyone else feel the same?

  3. Stephen says:

    Access to Garage G1 and G2 isn’t from the front of the ship, it is in the middle. If you enter at the bow you drive all the way to the stern, turn around and then drive back the other side to get to the ramp. That is shown in the first bonus video, u-turn at 2:14, down ramp at 2:24.

    Something I find interesting about Garage G6 is that it can be hosted up to allow for more tall vehicles on G5. In the second video at 1:27 you can see that G6 on the left is raised, but G6 on the right is down with a ramp up to it.

    And there is a ramp between G3 and G5, it is what was used before that added the second higher ramps at both Melbourne and Devonport.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      Thanks for that correction Stephen – I’m guessing that arrangement enables the below deck area to be used most efficiently, with the engine room at the bow.

      The additional ramps between decks and the movable mezzanine on deck 6 are interesting – it would be quite the labyrinth. Good thing passengers aren’t allowed to go wandering around the car decks during the voyage!

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