Just a short ferry ride from mainland Tasmania, Bruny Island is an untouched jewel with windswept beaches, clear waters and a thriving community of artisan producers.
In fact, this little patch of paradise is a microcosm of all the things people love about Tasmania and could keep both nature-lovers and gourmands busy for days. (You can also do nothing but relax while you’re there.) This is our essential guide to everything you need to know before visiting Bruny Island.
How to get there
For a place that feels so remote, Bruny Island is easy to reach. A vehicle ferry will whisk you and your car (highly recommended as there is no public transport on the island) from the port of Kettering, about 40 minutes drive south of Hobart, across the D'Entrecasteaux Channel to North Bruny Island in 20 minutes.
Ferries depart regularly between 6.10am and 7pm daily. Return fares for a standard car cost $38; passengers travel free. For timetable information, go to SeaLink Bruny Island.
Best things to do
Bounded by towering dolerite cliffs and crescent beaches on the wild Southern Ocean, the temperate rainforest sanctuary of South Bruny National Park is a must-visit reserve that delivers unforgettable scenery. Highlights include the historic Cape Bruny Lighthouse, which was first lit in 1838 – guided tours with a former lighthouse keeper are held daily between November and April – walking the five-kilometre stretch of Cloudy Bay and hanging around the park’s Fluted Cape entrance for the chance to witness rare white wallabies feeding at dusk.
See for yourself how Bruny is actually two islands, joined by a narrow sandy isthmus called The Neck, by climbing the 279 wooden steps to the top of the imposing dune for 360-degree views. The warmer months (September to February) are prime time for spotting local wildlife. A viewing platform at the bottom of the steps is built for watching little penguins waddling back to their burrows at dusk – a wildlife officer is on duty then to explain the sweet spectacle.
Have your photo taken at the Instagram-famous rock archway on South Bruny’s remote Miles Beach, by no means the only drawcard of the 12-kilometre-return Cape Queen Elizabeth Track that winds through wildflower-strewn bushland between Big Lagoon and Little Lagoon. The three-hour hike offers fantastic glimpses of The Neck and Adventure Bay and there are mutton bird rookeries and a fisherman’s shack hidden in the dunes.
Taste seafood plucked from the pristine Bruny waters and take in the island’s sights from a different perspective on a full-day cruise departing from Hobart. The Tasmanian Seafood Seduction small-group tour includes stops at Get Shucked oyster farm, where you can harvest the delicious bivalves yourself, and at a salmon farm where you can taste sashimi, hot- and cold-smoked salmon. Your guide will even dive for abalone, sea urchin and rock lobster in the interests of an unforgettable lunch, served onboard with a spread of local produce and matched with the all-important Tasmanian wines, craft beers, ciders and juices.
Where to eat and drink
Opened by Nick Haddow in 2003, the Bruny Island Cheese Co. helped put this little isle on the map. Made with milk from the brand’s own herd of rare-breed dairy cows, the award-winning range includes an ash-rolled white mould, a pungent washed rind and a raw milk hard cheese. Fifteen minutes drive from the ferry on North Bruny, the chic-shack cellar door is also a place to sample the output of the on-site craft brewery.
Swing by Australia’s southernmost winery with a visit to the cellar door at Bruny Island Premium Wines. Perched on a sloping site next to Little Taylor Bay on the western side of the island, the family-run business produces cool-climate chardonnay, riesling, sauvignon blanc and pinot noir. Stick around for lunch starring wine-friendly Bruny produce, such as oysters, lamb and wallaby burgers or salmon fillet with Tassie scallops.
Want to be charmed? Housed in a couple of retro fridges on the roadside, The Bruny Island Baker is stocked with woodfired sourdough loaves of rare excellence. Made every morning by John Bullock, a loaf and a choc-topped Anzac slice will set you back $10 – just pop your money in the honesty box and off you go. Find it on the corner of Sheepwash Road and Bruny Island Main Road.
An authentic, unpretentious pub by the water, Hotel Bruny is a great place to spend a laid-back afternoon on the deck or an evening by the open fire. The menu of pub classics is bedded in local produce and, this being Bruny, there are six different preparations of oysters, as well as brews and cider on tap.
Best places to stay
In open bushland on the island’s stunning northern coast, Adventure Bay Retreat’s four luxury, self-contained boltholes are at one with their surroundings. Timber-panelled ceilings, a woodfired stove and a spa built for two make the Cottage the ideal retreat for a couple, while the more baronial Lodge with its soaring ceilings and enormous stone fireplace is big enough for a large family or group of friends.
Overlooking Quarantine Bay, the Free Spirit Pods are all corrugated steel and rich Tasmanian timbers, with views of bushland and water from the elevated private deck. Days can be spent swimming and kayaking (watercraft are supplied) or exploring the historic Quarantine Station National Park right next door.