Across the D’Entrecasteaux Channel a short drive south of Hobart, Bruny Island is effectively two quite different islands connected by a narrow neck of sand. With its wild seascapes and sweeping surf beaches, rich maritime history, abundant birdlife and wildlife, tall forests and historic lighthouse, Bruny is an island paradise in Australia’s deep south.
The island has an abundance of indigenous birdlife, marsupials and marine life. Whales, seals, dolphins, penguins, sea lions, sea eagles, albatrosses, cormorants, gannets can be seen in their natural environments. A unique feature is its thousand-year old ‘blackboy’ rainforests and the spring months of September and October reveal spectacular native flowers.
Adventure Bay, the large bay on the eastern side of the isthmus that joins North and South Bruny Island, could be called the birth place of Van Diemen’s Land – Tasmania. It’s list of 17th and 18th century European visitors reads like a who’s who of leading Pacific explorers from the golden age of world exploration. British navigators James Cook, Tobias Furneaux, Wiliam Bligh and Matthew Flinders all visited Adventure Bay during their exploatory voyages. Their stories are told at the Bligh Museum of Pacific Exploration at Adventure Bay. More >>
North Bruny is drier than the south and is mostly comprised of open pastures and light bushland. It is home to the townships of Dennes Point and Great Bay. The Bruny Island car ferry departs from Roberts Point which is on North Bruny. In contrast to the north, South Bruny is hilly, heavily timbered and includes large rainforest areas. It is home to South Bruny National Park and large areas of State Forest Reserve. The townships of Adventure Bay, Alonnah and Lunawanna are also located on South Bruny. Here, too, the iconic Cape Bruny Lighthouse (1838) that stands on cliffs over 260 metres above the ocean below.
Alonnah is the administrative capital of Bruny Island. In the early 1900′s Alonnah jetty was used by many vessels traversing the D’Entrecasteaux channel with cargo and passengers. On Thursdays a weekly trip to Hobart took passengers shopping for the day. The Pontoon that takes the place of the jetty today is the last surviving section of the Hobart Floating Arch Bridge that was used to cross the Derwent River from Oct. 1943 – Aug 1964. This section was towed to Alonnah on 27th June 1972.
Outside its settlements the island is covered in grazing fields and large tracts of dry eucalyptus forest. Inland forests continue to be logged, but other large sections – mostly along the southeastern coast – are preserved as the South Bruny National Park. While the seaward side of the island features two long beaches – Adventure Bay and Cloudy Bay – the south is for the most part extremely rugged, with cliffs of dolerite that tower over 200 metres above sea level, and which are amongst the highest sea cliffs in Australia. Bruny’s channel side is far more sheltered and a favourite fishing and recreational boating area for local and interstate visitors.
South Bruny National Park is renowned for its varied wildlife, including fairy penguins and many species of reptile. Cape Bruny Lighthouse at the southern end of the Park offers panoramic views of the Southern Ocean and the island’s spectacular coastline from this ‘bottom of Australia’ lookout. Fairy penguins come ashore at dusk at The Neck Reserve; mutton birds also nest in the sand dunes of the narrow isthmus. South Bruny National Park >>
In terms of breathtaking majesty, few features on South Bruny Island compare to a series of sea caves found along its rocky coastline. ‘Breathtaking’ is an over-used word used to describe Australia’s scenery, but when it comes to these amazing coastal caverns, it is totally appropriate. The only way to see these caves is by boat; Bruny Island Cruises take tourists close to the huge caves carved by the wind and surf out of the cliff face but if you prefer to see them at close range, then sea kayak is the only way to go.
One of the natural wonders to be found here is Breathing Rock, a cavern in the rock face near water level that fills with air as the waves wash out and then as the waves washed back up into it, the air is forced back out with a huge spray. Those who travelled the south and south eastern coast of Tasmania by kayak agree that Bruny Island’s Breathing Rock is impressive but is small in comparison to the huge Breathing Rock on DeWitt Island in the Maatsuyker Group on the south coast of Tasmania.
Cape Bruny and Cloudy Bay lie at the far south of Bruny Island. Each year, Cloudy Bay plays host to the Bruny Island Surf Classic – a Tasmanian surfing championship held on the island. Cape Bruny is home to Cape Bruny Lighthouse. An iconic Australian lighthouse, it was the oldest continuous lighthouse under operation by the Commonwealth. Now out of service, it has been transferred to the Tasmanian Government and is part of the South Bruny National Park.
The island is home to Australia’s southernmost licensed pub, Bruny Island Hotel, and Bruny Island Premium Wines located at Lunawanna is Australia’s most southern vineyard. The narrow isthmus joining the two parts of the island is called “The Neck”. This is home to the Truganini Lookout – a timber stepped boardwalk that takes you to some of the most spectacular 360° panoramic views of the Bruny Island coastline. The sleepy township of Great Bay in the north is home to Bruny Island Cheese Company. The Get Shucked Oyster Farm is also found at Great Bay, just outside the township.
Coastal tour: for an intimate encounter with the coastline of Bruny Island,Bruny Island Cruises coastal tour is highly recommended. The tour commences in Hobart for a full day cruise (8am – 5.30pm) via Kettering and the Bruny Island ferry, and then to Adventure Bay, or it can be joined at Adventure Bay for the 3-hour 50km journey along the coast. Small cruise boats, especially designed for eco-cruising with an open design and excellence in manoeuvrability, take passengers close to sea and coastal wildlife (coastal wildlife such as seals, dolphins, whales, albatross and other seabirds), cliff faces, sea-caves, as well as passing between the narrow gap between the coast and The Monument, a tall and slender sea stack. Sitting at the bottom of Bruny Island’s towering sea cliffs, it is not unusual to be surrounded by thousands of seals or watch dolphins surf on the bow wave of the boat.
Cycling Bruny Island: take the short trip by bicycle from Hobart to Kettering, then catch the Bruny Island ferry and you are there, ready to explore one of Tasmania’s most interesting islands. Cyclists pay a small surcharge to take their bicycle with them on the 15-minute trip and ferries go throughout the day. You need as little as 3 days to cycle south from the city to the island, do a bit of exploring and return, although a week would be better to see more and take things at a more relaxed pace.
How to Get There:
Access to the island is by the Bruny Island car ferry which operates between the town of Kettering, 32 km south of Hobart, and Bruny Island. Crossing to the island takes 20 minutes and offers excellent views of the D’Entrecasteaux Channel from the upper deck. The ferry makes eleven crossings per day in each direction every day of the year. Kettering is located approximately 35 minutes south of Hobart. To get to Kettering from Hobart, drive south along the Southern Outlet to Kingston. Continue south along the Channel Highway, following the signs to Margate, Kettering and Bruny Island. You will pass through the townships of Margate, Electrona, Snug and Oyster Cove before arriving at Kettering. Once you arrive in Kettering, look for the sign to turn left off the highway to the Ferry Terminal. Ferry website >>
Fly to Bruny Island: keen on getting to Bruny Island in under 10 minutes? Then the Tasmanian Air Adventures Seaplane is the way to go. You can stop for a coffee, a meal, a cruise or maybe a night. Enjoy the beautiful views across the D’entrecasteaux Channel and Storm Bay before stepping off onto one of Bruny’s beautiful beaches. Aircraft depart from Hobart waterfront and arrive at bruny Island at Dennes Point. Flight duration: 10 minutes each way. Ph: 1300 359 822