Bruny Island (or Islands – they are joined by a narrow causeway) is nearly 100kms long – with a changing climate from sheltered sandy beaches to tall forests and open bays, to wild coastlines in the south. The Bruny Island Ferry leaves from Kettering, an easy 30 min drive south of Hobart. “Down the channel” as the locals call it. It is another 30 mins in the car ferry – everyone seems to take there, there does not seem to be any other way of getting around. It is just $35A return which seems great value.
The day we left for our Island adventure, it was overcast – full of atmosphere, but not looking like weather will be the high point of the trip!
The horizon had all but disappeared, the sky and the sea are one grey curtain. But we are determined to make the most of it – we have traveled from New Zealand for this.
We are staying in Dennes Bay in the North but over our two days we drive to Cloudy Bay in the South – and true to name, it was cloudy, windy and wet.
At Cloudy bay we observe the great surf break through the windshield of the car. But despite the weather, Bruny Island has some magic about it. Undeveloped and raw, a trip back in time to before places like this swarmed with people.
Here are my top five picks from Bruny Island
1. Cheese and oysters – do these count as one?
We eat them at the same time and they are almost next door to each other. We buy a dozen oysters each at the caravan at Get Shucked and at Bruny Island Cheese Company we have a cheese tasting. The group of five of us go away with what I estimate over $60 worth of cheese – but what a delight those cheeses were over the next few days. If you can not make it to Bruny Island – they have a regular stall at the Salamanca Market, and little shop in Salamanca in Hobart.
2. Bruny Shore Accommodation
This is nothing short of idyllic, we open the gate and drive down towards the sea over scrubland with wallabies bounding off as we go. We turn in behind a glorious house that is a glass pavilion set amongst trees and overlooking the bay. The main bedroom has two walls of double glazed glass, making us feel that we are sleeping outside, though we are warm and snug inside.
The weather forecast is not a great one. When we arrive the mist is low, and you can not discern any difference between the sea and the sky – for our first 24 hours they are merged into one. However we are glad to settle down for some serious relaxing with several bottles of Tasmanian wine, Bruny Island Cheese, fresh oysters and shared stories with old friends. We are in heaven.
3. The Birds and Wildlife of Bruny Island
Bruny Island Environment Network organises a four day Bird festival – and its in late October while we are there. We book in for a guided bird watching at Inala a family owned Land for Wildlife property on Bruny. We meet Tonia Cochrane whose passion this land has been for over 25 years, and being the Bird Festival we are off bird watching. Before we have left the house paddock we have spied some beautiful flame robins with their bright orange breasts, and the Forty-spotted Pardalote – a very tiny and endangered bird endemic to Tasmania. Though plentiful here at Inala, it is often hard to see – I am not surprised, it looks minute.
We learn the difference between a swallow (forked tail) and a tree martin, and learn to discern the difference between the calls of various cuckoos. We are warned about leechs and even though we tucked our trousers into our socks, we all seem to attract a few along the way. The record was young Isaac who delighted in having had six. One is spotted on my chin before being removed, and I thought that a little close for comfort. We also have a few botanists with us, so we do get a bit distracted by some minute flowering orchids along the path. White wallabies are seen in the distance and on our return to the hospitality shelter we get to feed one which has been rescued. Too cute for words.
4. Penguin and petrel rookery on The Neck
Between the two islands we stop to see the penguin rookery – I take the easy road of a few steps down to a viewing platform where in the evening you can see the penguins coming ashore. The others took the high road and some very serious stairs to see the view of Bruny from the Hilltop.
The ground is littered with burrows, and off shore there is a black smudge which is the petrels gathering on the water before they come home to their burrows on the Neck. Unfortunately we need to be here at sunset to make the most of this, but it is a beautiful spot nevertheless
5. The story of Tasmanian Aboriginal woman Truganini
In her lifetime, she saw her people decimated by murder and disease but refused to be a passive victim. Her strength and determination persist today within the Palawah people who have lived in the region for over thirty thousand years.
PS I wish I had and next time I will…
I am sure if I had gone on it, one of the highlights would have been the Bruny Island Cruises – a Wildlife Eco tour. Regular tourism award winner, I am told the owner Robert Pennicott used to be a fisherman, but saw the future as preserving and celebrating the creatures of the sea, and introducing others to them through his coastal wilderness cruises. You can do the trip either from Hobart (great if you have less time) or from Bruny Island. Sigh, maybe next time.
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Tasmania, rescue, volunteer says
Hi, such a wonderful Island where all wildlife are in.