By Laura Pattara
October 2, 2020 | 8 minute read
Sheepwash Bay Image credit @zoemorleyphotography
If you're thinking of getting away to Bruny Island (lunnawanna-alonnah ), where unpredictable weather and jaw-dropping scenery make for a sensational adventure - we have you covered. Sometimes dubbed Australia’s gourmet island, Bruny is absolutely delicious in every way.
Although the culinary delights are epic to say the least, there’s a lot more to this island than cheese-gorging, oyster-shucking and craft-beer-sampling: this is one of Tasmania’s wildest corners, one where the southern coast boasts Antarctic winds that’ll knock you off your feet and nature reserves hide incredible colonies of unique creatures.
There’s a multitude of stunning hiking trails to tackle, fur seals, dolphins and penguins to spot and spectacular scenery to soak up. Plus, it’s just not that populated, commercialised or built up – you can seriously immerse yourself in the great outdoors and enjoy being unplugged. And all this less than an hour away from Hobart.
* At the time of writing, activities and places mentioned in this guide are at varying stages of recovery from COVID-19. Please check government and business websites for specific details on opening times and any restrictions before you travel.
A quick overview
Gorgeous Bruny Island ( lunnawanna-alonnah ) is at the southern tip of Tasmania, reached via a car ferry that departs from Kettering, some 30 km southwest of Hobart. On the other side of the ferry ride, you’ll arrive at the north-western tip of Bruny and the start of Lennon Road (the B66), the only main road that snakes its way south through the island. Technically speaking, Bruny is divided into two parts: northern and southern, an amazing isthmus (aptly named The Neck) joining the two at km 24.
Best time to Visit Bruny Island
Summer is a popular time for visiting Bruny, however if it's whales watching that you're after, anytime between May and November is best to see humpbacks or southern rights. We visited in February and found it quite perfect – quiet enough that we could hike for hours without seeing anyone yet found all the cafés and shops still open every day, which was a great bonus.
The only downer is that we were just a few weeks too late to see the nesting penguins come to shore after dusk – so head here in January if that’s at the very top of your must-see list.
The Neck Game Reserve
Best things to do, see & where to eat
For us, the highlights of Bruny Island comprise an eclectic mix of outdoor pursuits and culinary delights. This is, after all, what Bruny does best.
You know how you stumble upon a perfectly scenic spot and think to yourself ‘gosh, I wish someone had opened a cool little café here’? Well, they have! Denes Point is Bruny’s northernmost tip and boasts a lovely sandy beach (Nebraska) where you can walk, chillax and soak up views to the southern mainland.
You’ll also find a great hybrid café/grocery store/art gallery (of which Bruny has several)) so not only can you throw back a wicked espresso after your beach-walk but you can also pick up some goodies for a picnic lunch. You’ll find a great heritage trail (1.5hr return) starting from here, one we think makes for a perfect intro to Bruny’s unique wilderness.
We totally gushed about this place on our Boutique Breweries & Distilleries in Tasmania blog and, wouldn’t you know it, our love-affair with the place keeps growing by the day. This very rustic joint combines craft beers with artisan cheeses with home-made breads and if you’ve ever found a better culinary combination than that on earth, pray tell.
SO good, you’ll want to stop by on the way down and back up again. Sample cheese platters and beer-tasting paddles are made to be shared but, so far, we’ve failed miserably at the sharing part.
Bruny is renowned for housing a plethora of unique native wildlife and the reserve on The Neck, a prime fauna habitat, is one of the best places to spot white wallabies, fairy penguins and shearwaters. The reserve covers the eastern side of the isthmus that separates north and south Bruny and boasts that sensational Truganini Lookout that makes for the most iconic Bruny photo of all.
Walk up to the top of the platform for magnificent 360-degree views, follow the walking trails to the beach (learning more about the wildlife from the info boards along the way) and don’t forget to come back at sunset for your chance to spot penguins on their commute back to base. Penguins are supposed to be seen between November to February but they had already migrated when we visited in Feb (the cold temps had set in early) so plan your visit for December or January for the highest chances of seeing the waddling little guys.
The Cape Queen Elizabeth Walking Trail starts here – it’s a 3.5hr long hike that’ll dish up splendid views of the neck and out across to Adventure Bay. If you’re looking for that ‘longer’ walk on a Bruny weekender, don’t stroll past this one.
Bruny Cheese Company
Adventure Bay is considered the heart of the action on Bruny although that’s mostly because it is the best commercialised area offering an array of organised activities. Home to a glorious rainforest showcasing the diversity of Bruny’s flora, Adventure Bay offers the Mavista Nature Walking Trail (short, easy but very rewarding route), two and three-hour sightseeing cruises to the southernmost tip of Bruny, spotting crazy rocky formations, vertiginous cliffs, super lazy seals and, at the right time of year, even dolphins.
The southern tip of the bay is drenched in native vegetation – tackle the Fluted Cape Walk for exceptional views across the coast. Just note this trail has steep sections with sheer cliffs so although it’s truly out of this world, you should probably skip it if travelling with kids. Take them beachcombing instead!
Bruny Island Premium Wines South(west) Bruny
Australia’s southernmost winery is worthy of a visit, most especially if you’ve managed to fit in all those recommended hikes on your weekender in Bruny. The in-house grill & bar serves up some local carnivorous specialties, including possum sausages and flame grilled wallaby (yes, really) as well as delicious tapas platters and kick-ass burgers. Their real specialty, however, are cold-climate wines so make sure you have time to savour a few.
South Bruny National Park
The lower third of southern Bruny encompasses the whole South Bruny National Park, including the bay and lighthouse mentioned below. This is undoubtedly Bruny at its wildest and most remote. The lack of human presence means wildlife thrives unabashed, down here. This is the best spot to head to if you’re into bird-spotting and wildlife-watching, in general, whilst soaking up the wonders of prime eucalyptus forests, hardy bush and a smattering of wild orchid fields.
There are remnants of Tasmania’s whaling era here as well as a handful of fascinating Aboriginal sites. Walking trails abound here and range from hour-long easy walks to multi-day challenging hikes. If you’re happy just to stumble upon a trail, you can just head south and look out for signs. Alternatively, grab a copy of this Bruny Islands Walks Guide before you visit if you want to plan ahead.
The southernmost bay on Bruny is an experienced surfer’s mecca, revered for its wild waves and dramatic landscapes. Twinkles the toes in the sea (just to say you have) but, to be honest, if there’s a valid reason we’re not born with penguin-like feathers, the sea temperature at Cloudy Bay is probably it. Still, this is a stunning 5km-long sandy beach so take a stroll for an hour and enjoy the truly contemplative spot. Next spot south from here? Antarctica, baby!
Cape Bruny Lighthouse South Bruny
On the southwestern tip of Cloudy Bay is where you’ll find the (predictably) southernmost lighthouse in Australia as well as one of its oldest. Built over 150 years ago, the lighthouse is as photogenic as it is views-affording so make sure you join a tour to reach the very top, via a stunning wrought-iron staircase. Time your visit with the sunset tour on a crystal-clear and you’ll seriously be swooning over the views.
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