The Weekend Australian - Travel - - DESTINATION AFLOAT - JANE NI­CHOLLS

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.

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