ON Sunday (23 October) GeelongPort welcomed the Spirit of Tasmania I to its new northern home at a new purpose-built facility at the port.

GeelongPort CEO Brett Winter said the project was a significant and exciting undertaking.

“We thank Spirit of Tasmania for selecting Geelong as its new home,” he said.

“The arrival of Spirit of Tasmania marks an exciting chapter in the history of the Greater Geelong region.”

Mr Winter said the new Spirit of Tasmania Quay featured innovative technology.

“Through this project we introduced new engineering innovations to the region, including a world-first three-level access ramp fabricated right here in Geelong and an automated mooring system that allows vessels to be berthed with the push of a button,” he said.

The precinct features culturally significant artwork and themes co-designed with the Wadawarrung Traditional Owners Group.

“Our team worked closely with the Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Group throughout the project and we’re extremely proud of the local indigenous art and themes on display to welcome visitors to our region,” Mr Winter said.

New era in Bass Strait shipping

Spirit of Tasmania chairman Michael Grainger said the arrival marked the start of a new era in Bass Strait passenger, passenger vehicle and freight transport.

“The company has been very much looking forward to moving to Geelong from Station Pier, Port Melbourne since the decision to relocate our Victorian operations was first made,” he said.

“Equally, the company has been very pleased to see up close the progress on construction since site preparation works began in 2020 for the new passenger and freight terminal which was officially opened today.”

Mr Grainger said he and his Spirit of Tasmania colleagues had enjoyed seeing the precinct evolve in the lead up to the first official arrival and thanked GeelongPort and the countless number of contractors who contributed to the project’s success.

“Beyond the excellent work undertaken on the project by both the Spirit of Tasmania and GeelongPort project teams, our first arrival into Geelong did not disappoint,” he said.

“The new port home is expected to lead to increased passenger growth from markets in New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia, as well as increased passenger growth from regional Victoria.”

He said the expected growth would ultimately benefit Tasmania, as well as Geelong and the surrounding regions, particularly for tourism operators.

Mr Grainger said it was also important to consider the move to Geelong alongside the investment the Company was making in two new vessels, Spirit of Tasmania IV and Spirit of Tasmania V.

“We are not only securing the future of the company, but Tasmania’s visitor economy and the broader economy,” he said.

End of an era at Station Pier

The Spirits of Tasmania have been sailing from Station Pier to Devonport for 37 years and Spirit of Tasmania II left its berth in Melbourne for the last time Sunday evening.

Spirit of Tasmania chief executive officer Bernard Dwyer said the milestone sailing marked a significant moment in the history of Spirit of Tasmania.

He said while Station Pier had been Spirit of Tasmania’s Victorian home for nearly four decades, it was time to move to a bigger, purpose-built facility.

“The company has experienced a series of operational constraints at Station Pier that may have worsened given our new bigger vessels that are set to arrive in 2024 and construction of associated infrastructure,” he said.

“We have loved being part of the Port Melbourne community and we know that our iconic red and white ships will be missed by the locals and visitors to the area. It is the end of an era for Spirit of Tasmania but a necessary move for the benefit of our passengers and the long-term future of our service.”