From cool-climate wines to artisan cheeses, Bruny Island offers some excellent gourmet experiences, writes David Leser.
As our ferry edges its way across the D’Entrecasteaux Channel from Kettering, 32 kilometres south of Hobart, to Bruny Island, I am reminded of a quote long misattributed to the great American author and humorist Mark Twain: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
It’s uncertain who actually uttered these memorable lines but as the two land masses of North and South Bruny Island come into view, I decide I could do a lot worse than follow these instructions.
I mean, what’s not to like about a food tour that includes cheese tasting at the Bruny Island Cheese Co.; Pacific oysters from the pure waters of Great Bay; fresh berries at Resolution Creek, where captains James Cook and William Bligh once replenished their water supplies; a sampling of cool-climate pinot noir and sauvignon blanc from Bruny Island Premium Wines, together with a lunch of grilled salmon from across the channel; followed by sweet indulgences at the Bruny Island Chocolate Company?
Well, actually there’s nothing not to like, except an expanding girth, which you can walk off if you climb the few hundreds steps to The Neck lookout to then admire the majestic 360-degree views over Isthmus Bay and Adventure Bay, as well as the long slice of sand dunes where little penguins return to their burrows at dusk.
Just imagine: two islands in one, joined by an isthmus at the very bottom of the world, that you can traverse in quick-smart time (not that you’d want to). It’s bursting with produce and blessed with primeval, unspoiled beaches; scrub that gorgeous short-sighted white wallabies poke their heads out of; dolphins on leisurely patrol; and birdlife that includes one-third of the world’s population of swift parrots and 240,000 breeding pairs of short-tailed shearwaters (who achieve the astonishing feat of an annual 30,000-kilometre return journey to the Arctic Circle).
It is all here: the terrible wound and weight of history; the rivalry of old empires (British and French); the drama of convict settlement and Indigenous extinction; the long, solemn swells that roll northwards from the South Pole; the farmlands of the north, the bush and temperate rainforest of the south; the sheer wild beauty and utter isolation of the place...
No wonder tourism is up by about 25 per cent on last year. (The island has a permanent population of 700 but there were some 3000 campers this Easter!)
Add to that the provenance of food. “There’s so much fresh food here,” says Barry Geard, our guide from the award- winning Pennicott Wilderness Journeys (pennicottjourneys.com.au), who conducts tours to Bruny Island two to three times a week. “People walk along the beach and pick up oysters and they can’t believe it.” And neither will you.