FERRY CROSSINGS TO ENCHANTED PLACES
WOODS HOLE TO MARTHA’S VINEYARD, MASSACHUSETTS This area was home to the Kennedy family’s glory days, scandal and tragedy, and Martha’s Vineyard remains the summer holiday escape for old money. The crossing from Woods Hole on a Steamship Authority ferry to either Oak Bluffs or Vineyard Haven takes about 45 minutes. Each ferry has its own charm but I suggest you choose the biggest, Island Home, and book ahead if you’re taking a car. On board, order a cup of the excellent, thick clam chowder, and be on the starboard side as you leave Woods Hole to spot seals on the rocks as you head into Vineyard Sound. At Oak Bluffs, find storybook rows of brightly painted Carpenter Gothic houses surrounding the vast village green, salty charm and craft beers at Offshore Ale Co, where peanut shells cover the floor, and get a free ride if you grab the brass ring at the Flying Horses, America’s oldest carousel. More: steamshipauthority.com. LONG ISLAND TO SHELTER ISLAND, NEW YORK A precious dot between the two arms of Long Island, Shelter Island is accessible by North or South Fork ferries, each delivering you 1000 miles from care (to borrow an old tout for Sydney’s Manly Beach). I recommend the prettier, more rural North Fork drive through quintessential northeast Americana: farm stands, pie shops, wineries and lobster-roll restaurants, ending up in Greenport. Stay in your car for the short trip across, paying the deckhand just in time to disembark and enter the historic, bucolic beauty of Shelter Island. Leave via the even shorter trip on the slightly smaller South Fork ferry, heading home past Sag Harbour (or turn left for Montauk, setting for the TV hit series The Affair), and through holiday enclaves of the uber-rich in the Hamptons. The ferries each run about every 10-20 minutes; no reservations and cash only. More: northferry.com; southferry.com. GLADSTONE TO HERON ISLAND, QUEENSLAND As the 34m Heron Islander catamaran departs Gladstone for one of the jewels of the Great Barrier Reef, your city self begins to uncoil. The daily two-hour crossing is for resort guests only; no daytrippers allowed. The tiny coral cay is also home to the Heron Island Research Station, which you can visit (kids in the Junior Rangers program get a long session there). Birdwatching, reef exploring, snorkelling, diving and turtle hatching fill blissful days, with no TV or mobile reception, and Wi-Fi available in hour-long blocks. The crossing can be rough, but our journey is so calm the surface of the fantastically blue water looks like it’s been polished. We are on the wide bow when we see our first green turtle bob up, just as we spy the island. The “shipwreck” next to the jetty is the HMAS Protector, a gunboat scuttled as a breakwater and now a mansion for marine life, and a snorkelling wonderland. More: heronisland.com. KETTERING TO BRUNY ISLAND, TASMANIA The schedule for this crossing needs attention: plan your trip around times from Kettering (about 30 minutes’ drive from Hobart) and return, or risk being stranded an hour at a time on either side. During the 20-minute sailing, sit in your car (fares are per vehicle, passengers are not charged separately) or wander the deck and breathe in the pristine air of the D’Entrecasteaux Channel. On Bruny, let your predilections guide you. There’s Get Shucked for oysters; Bruny Island Cheese Co for guess-what (plus, more recently, beer); Bruny Island Wines; the Tasmanian House of Whisky; and a factory outlet for the reportedly famous Bruny Island Fudge (each to their own). At The Neck, the isthmus that joins north and south Bruny, there’s a steep xylophone of wooden stairs to a lookout named for Truganini, the last fullblooded Tasmanian Aborigine. At her memorial, pause and reflect. More: brunyislandferry.com.au.