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Bruny Island is a spectacular island of stunning vistas and contrasts; from hay bales and cattle to windswept beaches and arctic wildlife.
This hidden gem off the coast of Hobart, in Tasmania and is visited by 26,000 holidaymakers each year, mostly on day trips.
Bruny Island, Tasmania deserves so much more of your time. I spent four days there, but trust me, you should linger for a week.
Soak in the sunshine; listen to the roar of the ocean. Feast on oysters, decadent cheese platters, raspberries and black cherries that will honestly make you cry with their freshness and flavour. It is both a natural wonder and a gastronomical delight.
Roughly 100 km in length Bruny Island is made up of a north and south island, which are separated by a narrow isthmus known as “The Neck”. It was discovered by Abel Tasman in 1642 and is rich in both British and Aboriginal history.
What to do on Bruny Island, Tasmania
1. Go to the beach
I know this is almost the southernmost point of Australia, but trust me!
Take your shoes off. Wiggle your toes in the sand, smell the salty air and put your toes in the ocean irrespective of the weather. Soak in the colours of the ocean. If you’re lucky you might see an Albatross or a spectacular rainbow.
2. Book a Pennicott Journey’s Wilderness Safari
I did a Pennicot Journey Wilderness Safari on my 40th birthday and it was the best experience of 2015 for me.
Even if you get motion sickness you will enjoy this; they hand out ginger tablets on board and I slapped peppermint and ginger essential oil on my feet. Nothing else has compared.
During your trip you may see many threatened species such as the New Zealand Fur Seal, Southern Elephant Seal, Leatherback Turtle, Spotted Handfish, Live-Bearing Seastar, Great White Shark and migratory whales such as the Southern Right Whale and the Humpback Whale, depending on the season.
3. See the Cape Bruny Island lighthouse
The Bruny Island Lighthouse was first lit in 1838, as a result of disaster; including the catastrophic wreck of the convict transport George III, and is the second oldest lighthouse in Australia.
It is Australia’s longest continually staffed lighthouse. It was lit for the last time on 6th August 1996 and replaced by a solar light nearby. (ahh, technology is not as beautiful as a lighthouse though?)
Please note that distances are deceiving on Bruny. We stayed at Adventure Bay and the drive to the lighthouse took one hour each way.
We spent about an hour exploring the lighthouse area, and would have spent a lot longer if it was not 35 degrees Celcius! On a cooler more typical day, you can walk down to the beach for a picnic. It was also Christmas Day, so by 2pm we were keen to get back home to our accommodation and cook and eat Christmas dinner! Not to mention relax with a bottle of wine.
If you want to capture sunset, remember that in summer this will be at around 9:30pm. It is a dirt road with no street lighting and some steep hills. The wildlife is abundant so you must be careful of the wallabies at dusk.
Also, note that you need to pay the National Parks fee when you enter the lighthouse area- it costs $24 per vehicle.
4. What to do if it rains on Bruny Island
No problem! It is Tasmania after all, and there are many seasons in one day (Although we had spectacular weather and were almost relieved to get a typical moody day).
I recommend lunch at Hotel Bruny. Warning the serving sizes are MASSIVE and delicious! David Gunton and his crew are dedicated to sourcing the finest fresh produce. This is no ordinary pub grub. It is very popular at peak holiday seasons so please call to book ahead 1300 BRUNY HOTEL or (03) 6293 1148.
5. View the penguins at “The Neck” at dusk
Between September and February, you can see the short-tailed shearwater and little (fairy) penguins. Please wear dark clothes and understand that no flashlights or photography are allowed as it disturbs the penguins.
Also, be careful as the penguins cross the isthmus at dusk – watch your driving!
I’m sad to say we over filled our days, and by the time it was dusk, all we wanted was to drink wine and eat dinner, so this, for me will have to be next time. We did see it in spectacular form during the day!
6. Have a gastronomical day
On your itinerary may I suggest eating cheese and drinking cider at the Bruny Island Cheese Company, washed down with oysters at Get Shucked Oyster Farm and then fudge at the Bruny Island Providore (Please note there is an active Police Officer on the island for road safety).
If you still have room, eat fresh berries at the Bruny Island Berry Farm, or take a punnet or two home for breakfast, and eat with Tasmanian yoghurt.
7. Grab a bottle of Bruny Island Premium Wines and relax at your accommodation
Bruny Island Premium Wines can be purchased at the vineyard, Australia’s most southerly vineyard, where you can enjoy a long lunch or at Pennicott Journey’s departure point for the Wilderness Safari.Oh dear, we drank it and forgot to take a photo…
We were going to have a long lunch at the vineyard for my 40th birthday, however, given the weather forecast for the 26th December (the only other day the safari was free) – it was supposed to be gail force winds, and I get VERY sea sick, I opted to skip the winery lunch (sob) and go the wilderness safari.
Besides, you have to leave something to come back for right?
8. Go for a walk in nature
Go on a nature walk and look out for some amazing birds.
Bruny Island is home to over 150 bird species, including all 12 Tasmanian endemic species. There are a number of threatened bird species (such as the Swift Parrot, Forty-spotted Pardalote, Wedge- tailed Eagle, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Grey Goshawk, Masked Owl and Fairy Tern).
Bruny is a walker’s paradise. Some of the walks include:
- Grass Point – 1.5 hours return
- Fluted Cape – 3 hours return
- Labillardiere Peninsula Circuit – 6 to 7 hours return
- Luggobine Circuit (moderate) – 1.5 hours return
- Mavista Nature Walk (easy) – 30 mins return
- Cape Queen Elizabeth (moderate) – 3 hours return
- Mt Mangana (moderate) – 1.5 hrs return
- East Cloudy Head (demanding) – 4hrs return
- The Slide Track (moderate-demanding) – 6 hours one-way
- Clennett’s ‘Top Mill’ site (easy) – 30 mins return
- Alonnah to Sheepwash Bay (easy) – 1hr return
9. Find a white wallaby
There are two types on Bruny Island- the albino and the Bennetts’s wallaby. They love the grassy areas of Adventure Bay and can be seen early morning or at dusk.
10. On the day of your departure, I suggest you:
Eat black cherries – the best time to do this is just as you leave the island. Pull up to the ferry queue and then look up the hill. You will notice everyone is getting out of their car to go to the “Black Devil Cherry Shack”. They are amazing. I have honestly never tasted cherries like these!
If you choose to take the ferry after lunch you can go to the House of Whisky and have lunch and a tasting before you leave the island. It is right near the ferry stop.
How to get to Bruny Island
The Bruny Island ferry is a one hour drive from Hobart to Kettering and costs $33 for the return journey, and only taking 15 minutes.
Things you need to know about Bruny Island:
Bruny Island has many dirt roads. Please, be careful when driving your rental cars along these roads as many car hire companies have clauses, which state if your vehicle is allowed off-road.
Bruny you have captured my heart and my soul.
Note. Katische and her travel companion Ricky, stayed at “The Cottage” at the Adventure Bay Retreat in Adventure Bay. It was booked through Alluxia. We paid for our own accommodation and the travel was not associated with any tourism board.
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Have you visited Bruny Island? What other tips can you offer?