Port Arlington Ferry day trip

Departure was to be 11.00AM, with assembly at 10.30 for a 10.45 embarkation.

I should tell you that before we go any further that my wife, Tricia, has breathing problems and cannot walk very far. So getting her to Dockland and on time as well could be problematic.

Taxis are unreliable as far as turning up when you want them; they seem to be related to tradies or delivery drivers.

To drive my car would be the next choice but where to park in timely manner and could Tricia hike there from the parking spot, or if I dropped her off at the ferry, could I get back in time without getting lost in the large car parks…a senior moment.

Then there are the trams. This seemed ok, but I decided to do a test drive so to speak.

You would not believe the number of different tram routes that end up there in Dockland. I tried a couple of them and decided that for us we should use Number 30 or 35. One of them is the City circle tram. 

We left an hour early for the 3 kilometre trip.  We waddled down to Latrobe Street from Queensbury Street and caught the City circle which was going the long way round, but this was ok as it stopped at D3 platform at Dockland.

The tram came to a stop outside the Windsor hotel and the driver informed us that he was off to have a nine minute break!!

Nerves were starting to appear on the face of Tricia.

Who was the idiot who chose the tram??

Next the tram missed all of the green traffic lights and slowed down so that the Gulls could lead us into Dockland.

We nearly got out so that we could push the blasted tram into D3 platform; we also had a keen eye on the watch.

How would we recognise the DATA people, I don’t know I screamed.

It was already 10.43AM and I had then forsaken our marriage vows and abandoned Tricia and thus charged across the road, pummelling the Probus group before I saw a lady with a clip board, Ah hah, I said, someone official.

Indeed it was the organiser. I apologise for not naming any one as I am still early into the group and names still escape me. So that is why I didn’t recognise any one.

 I think she said that she was just about to telephone me to find out where we were as every one else was on board, meaning get your finger out.

Armed with two memorable tickets we got on board a very nice looking and quite large ferry, it was well equipped with a coffee shop, free Wifi, bicycle racks, videos playing on the televisions, and the seating was very good as well. For best views I would recommend going up stairs as they have dual seats next to the large windows.

The ferry departed and slowly cruised by the docks and the assorted ships in port. The ferry at this stage is only allowed 5 knots of speed until we get to the West gate Bridge where I think we can do 10 knots to the open bay and then the master opens up her throttle to get to her cruising speed. It was a nice steady ride and the bay was fairly flat.

Prior to getting to the open Bay, I was reminded of the old freight line that is still there, that ran down past the Spotswood Powerhouse, past the Pumphouse museum, and along the water frontage to the large oil storage tanks, which are now cared for by barges.

I know this because I used to be Train Driver many years ago.

Whilst on the subject [I digress a bit] of trains; we used to take 1100 tons of briquettes on three trains a day continually to Spotswood Powerhouse until it was changed over to gas.

Oh yes the trip?

We proceeded on to pass the Pump House museum, think of the old Werribee smell, luckily now gone.

At this location there are many fishermen on the banks probably still wishing that the Powerhouse was still in operation as it used to discharge warm water into the river entrance. Known locally as the ‘warmies’. Many types of fish were found to love habituating this area.

On we went like Christopher Columbus sailing past Williamstown Dockyard; where were the Anzac ships that I thought were still under construction, oh yes, another cost of globalisation.

Our cruise across to Port Arlington, maybe the name should be one word? What do you think? The cruise took about 90 minutes and we slowly got off the vessel, nodded to the few faces that I thought we should know and then looked up at the monstrous hill we had to ascend in order to get to the shops.

Tricia was not happy Jan.

Diplomatically I suggested, meekly, that ‘OH Look there is a village market open for you to inspect’ [I hate them]. There was an air of improvement when we saw others struggle up Mount Everest. 

We ambled around flora and fauna, cakes, dresses, good luck charms, hang on a minute I might need one of those. You get the picture. We were out for the day, the sun was shining, people were smiling, and we were at peace!

We strolled along the boulevard enjoying the grand view that was afforded us whilst we were high up on the street level. 

What was there then to do, we thought that the wine places to risky for us, speaking medically that is. So we strolled to the nearest and possible the only pub in town, they had a nice beer garden so we chose to sit in the sunshine and order our lunch.

This is where we met Dawn and Edwin for the first time and soon struck up a conversation and the time flew past whilst we gorged ourselves on a monstrous sized luncheon.

The sun disappeared so did we. Into the pub we went for our coffee and more chatting, oh yes we also saw Sue –the president.

After all of this debauchery we really needed a stroll along the esplanade, only to rediscover the old bakery that we knew about decades ago. Tricia was trying to haul me past the ever appealing door but I won, a delicious apricot slice was mine, all mine.

Sharing is so over rated.

The sun was declining so we headed back towards the shore line to find some protection from the increasing wind, there we sat and read the Sunday paper, together like two old farts, sorry like two senior members of society. A truly great day.

The return trip was as enjoyable as the forward trip, smooth and very easy to have a conversation with those around us.

Going home on land was again a tram, this time we got off near to St Vincent’s Hospital as it allowed us to walk through the park and avoid another hill.

Many thanks go to the organisers and to DATA for the subsidy of the ticket price.

Paul Brock.

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