Bruny Island is a small island accessed only by ferry off the south-eastern coast of Tasmania. It is a microcosm of the Tasmanian mainland. Blessed with an extraordinarily diverse range of distinct environments – spectacular coastlines, geological wonders, beaches, rainforests, mountains, lagoons, waterfalls, abundant flora and fauna.
The island is about 50 km long but appears on the map to be two islands with North and South Bruny joined by a narrow strip of land called The Neck. This isthmus is an important habitat for native wildlife.
Tourists are drawn to Bruny Island for many reasons but the main attraction is the amazing walks through the South Bruny National Park with towering cliffs overlooking long sandy beaches, coastal heathland, and underwater gardens of kelp seaweed with some amazing bushwalks to take it all in.
However in recent years Bruny Island has been promoted as a foodies heaven and this is what has drawn us to spend some extended time on the island. It is home to producers specialising in oysters, cheese, wines, honey, berries, spirits and chocolate. What more could we ask for?
First however we need to get to the island and this is via a vehicular ferry. A 20-min crossing from Kettering, around a 35-min drive south of Hobart. The service runs seven days a week. Now there are ways of saving money on the ferry by taking it during off peak times and for us being seniors we also received a further discount. Sometimes age is a benefit. Bruny Island Ferry Information
We hadn’t booked anywhere to stay on the island. We were planning to stay in one of the National Park campgrounds. Whilst on the ferry we discussed what our stay on the island would entail.
There is no public transport on Bruny Island, with the island 50klm long, we needed to drive to all of the tasting sites we wished to visit. One of the disadvantages with having a van and touring, is you take everything with you when day tripping, leaving nothing at your campsite. So when you chose to stay in a National Park, which is first in gets the site, you are not always guaranteed of having a site when you return after your day out. We have a free standing annex and this is a great solution for this situation, as we can leave it standing in our campsite.
However we were expecting rain on the last day of our stay, and really didn’t want to repackage a wet annex. Our solution was to stay at one of the caravan parks or the local Landscape Supplies. Strange as it might sound this local business has sites available for self contained vans. On calling them we discovered they had lots to offer, so we booked for two nights at $25 per night.
On arrival our host was very welcoming and showed us to our site. All sites have power, water, level and are grassed. There are only 5 campsites and are well spaced. They provide an awesome camp kitchen which has a wood fired pizza oven and a great outdoor fire pit for social gatherings.
So naturally after a quick set up we grab a bottle of red wine and head over to meet our other campers. This is certainly one of the highlights of Vanlife, meeting people from all walks of life that are enjoying life on the road.
So after a few wines it was back to “Le Frog Box” for a great nights sleep. We woke in the morning to a beautiful day, now time to enjoy the famous local produce; Bruny Island is pretty well known for the amazing local produce. Indulging in fresh oysters, seafood and artisan cheeses was high on our priority list for the next few days. Karen had made provision for extra $$ in our budget for eating at all these gastronomical delights. We didn’t have an early start, that maybe caused by the couple of extra reds last night but we are soon on the road to our first stop Bruny Island Cheese. Mmmmmm …. 3 coach-loads of tourists are there before us, ok let’s come back.
Apart from tempting your taste buds Bruny Island is full of natural wonders and history. We had marked on our must sees as the place Captain Cook arrived and placed a plaque on a tree to commemorate his landing, that simply read “Cook 26th January 1977”. Does that date ring a bell with Australian’s? It is quite a significant date and is now a national holiday we call Australia Day.
On arrival at the site we learn that the plaque was lost. In 1989 it was reported that barely the roots remained of the tree which had stood forgotten above a beach, weatherworn, vandalised and burnt.
In 1930 it had stood over three metres tall, with Cook’s carving still intact. The site has recently been cleaned up by ‘Friends of Adventure Bay Inc’, with Callistemons (Bottle Brush) planted beside it. The small piece of trunk that remained was removed to the Bligh Museum for safe keeping. The Bligh Museum is a small building a few hundred metres away, so off we trundle to see this famous stump.
Bruny Island figured prominently in the early exploration of the southern seas, and was partially charted by Tasman in 1642. It was inhabited by the Nuenonne band of the South East tribe of Aborigines. Truganini. The Museum is small but is packed full of interning history from the first discovery of Van Diemen’s Land and if you are a history buff well worth the visit.
Adventure Bay, which is 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. Its 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. Adventure Bay became a centre of the whaling industry with whalers using the Bay as early as 1804. By 1829 the Bay supported some 80 to 90 men, two sloops and up to twenty whale boats.
But today Adventure Bay and Bruny Island’s other pristine beaches are a playground for holiday makers to watch and marvel at these majestic giants of the ocean not harpoon them and for a bit of beach combing or swimming.
With the history tour over it was time to find some of that great seafood. We had been told not to miss the platters at Bruny Island Hotel. I’m not sure what you conger up when you think about pub food but ours is soggy parmy and chips. The hotel is a very unassuming 1970’s lowset building, our thoughts were still “soggy parmy” …..
Well DON’T miss the platters at the Bruny Island Hotel. Though the day was blustery and we couldn’t sit outside we were shown to a table with the view of the water across the road. And the food was superb, no soggy chips to be found. Everyone seat was commenting on the food, not sure we even saw the view once our Fish Platter arrived. Did we mention DON’T miss the platters at the Bruny Island Hotel.
With our bellies full it was easy to curl up and have an afternoon nap, but we had other things in mind. Wine …. Carved from bush and pastureland on the outskirts of the sleepy little island settlement of Lunawanna. Richard and Bernice Woolley bought the Wayaree Estate property in 1997 and they established their vineyard the following year, planting Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines. This family owned winery now has a beautiful tasting room and restaurant. As we had already filled our bellies, wine tasting was all we partook in.
The vineyard produces premium quality, cool climate wines. Bernice has been making the wine on-site since 2004 and has now passed on her knowledge and love for wine to her son Joseph. Mid to late April all grapes are hand-picked on an annual picking day which attracts around 100 pickers in a day of vintage celebrations. Oh what fun that would be. All wines are made on site and include such varieties as Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. After enjoying a tasting of their premium selection we headed to do some sightseeing and then back to finish our day with some artisan cheeses.
On arrival at Bruny Island Cheeses we found it was still packed with people. Unfortunately when something is so very popular you need to share. We lined up to speak to the “Fromager”. We were taken through each of the cheese’s that were available for tasting that day. Even though there was a considerable line behind us, we didn’t feel rushed and each of our questions were asked fully. Bruny Island Cheese Co was foundered by Nick Haddow in 2003. It was started after Nick spent 10 years working with specialist cheese makers in many different countries around the world.
As a traditionalist, who recognises that great cheese was made for centuries before modern technology. His cheese’s are made and matured using traditional techniques, the range of cheeses changes seasonally. Reflecting the seasonal nature of the Huon Valley dairy farms and the companies own herd of rare breed cows.
These cheese’s are truly unique to Tasmania. We made our many purchases both at the cheese counter and from the range of other Tasmanian products on offer and head back to the campsite for well another glass of Tasmanian wine and cheese’s. We can alway diet tomorrow.
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8 Top Things to do and see Bruny Island – from this blog
Visit The Neck – Free
Follow the History of the Explorers that discovered Australia Free / $ – Captain Cook Memorial Free – Paid entry fee of $5 into Museum
Lunch at the Bruny Island Hotel $ – Shared Fish Platter $45
Wine Tasting – $15 per person Wayaree Estate Bruny Island Premium Wines
Adventure Bay – Free Beach walk, watch for Whales, beach combing, take a swim.
Visit the World Sculpture – Free
Bruny Island Lighthouse – Free / $ you can enjoy the grounds of the lighthouse or you can take a tour.
Cheese Tasting – Free / $ Enjoy free cheese tasting at Bruny Island Cheese Co. Then purchase your favourites to take home.
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