Winding my way south out of urban Hobart, it is only a matter of minutes until the hillsides of homes give way to swathes of beautiful forests and rolling rural pastures. A cherished, and easy, escape for Hobart locals, Bruny Island is now firmly on the itineraries of visitors from across Australia, and beyond.
There are numerous tours that can show you the highlights of Bruny, although the most popular option is to self-drive; which, as I found, is an ideal way to immerse yourself in island life and experiences as I cruised the scenic winding roads in my car from Overdrive car rentals in central Hobart.
Access to the island is via vehicular ferry (the ‘Mirambeena’) from Kettering, within the sheltered waters of Oyster Cove. I opted for a morning crossing – the ferry only takes 15-20 minutes – with time for a visit to Kettering neighbours Steamhouse Café for a smooth coffee and some treats from Nutpatch Nougat and Chocolates (these will be an ideal treat after tackling some walks on the island, I convinced myself). The Mermaid Café at the ferry terminal is well sited for some hearty food or coffee before setting off, too; plus you can see when the ferry has arrived at the marina.
If you’ve heard of Bruny Island, chances are you have heard about the fine, fresh and local produce available; I can confirm this to be the case! Thankfully there are endless walking trails and beaches to work the gourmet delights off, as if you are anything like me you’ll be keen to try everything that’s placed in front of you.
The skills and knowledge of fine produce is clearly on display at the Bruny Island Cheese Company. A light drizzle was falling in the cool of outside, but inside the log fire was crackling and the welcome was just as warm. Eventually I pulled myself away from the cheese room viewing window and picked up a wheel of their smooth and creamy Saint to savour with a picnic later.
Just down the road I pulled into Bruny Island Honey for a taste of the island; quite literally, as this local family business have their bees are in hives across Bruny. Decisions were difficult – the Tasmanian leatherwood and Manuka were divinely delightful – so a sweet selection of honeys made their way into my bag.
For lunch, Bruny offers a surprising array of places to dine in or takeaway; they just tend to be spread around the island. In Great Bay, just north of the famed Neck Lookout, is Get Shucked – the popular Bruny Island Oyster bar that purveys, what they call, ‘fuel for love’. And who are we to disagree? Taking a prime seat at the window bar, the view is wonderfully majestic looking back towards the Tasmanian mainland – and then you realise that the oysters are grown right there in the waters you’re staring at. In fact, you may even get to watch them harvesting! In a hurry? No worries – just use the drive through option to pick up a dozen or two fresh oysters, ready to enjoy.
You could eat your away around Bruny (I did, so no judgments from me), but you’ll want to get out and stretch your legs (walk off the goodness) at some point. From the aptly named Adventure Bay on South Bruny, I tackled the intriguing-sounding Fluted Cape track. The 5.4km circuit skirts the coast – an easy stroll at sea level, then ascends steeply up the Cape. The views all along the walk are awe-inspiring; in fact, you’ll keep finding yourself wondering how each vista can be better than the last – but it will be! This is not a walk for young kids though, as the track follows the cliff edge to the top and there are no fences or railings (so also should be avoided in bad weather). The walk takes in a variety of vegetation changes, and at Grass Point there is an historical whaling station site rich in stories (make sure you follow the insightful interpretation panels). As the whale population is slowly recovering from the whaling industry of the 1800’s, keep an eye out for migrating humpbacks and southern rights.
Bruny Island offers a quality range of accommodation options, with the majority self-contained – quite perfect really, given the range of gourmet foraging you can do here to keep yourself nourished. Around the wild and rugged Cloudy Bay on South Bruny you will find a collection of secluded, charming and character-filled cottages and houses, all part of the Bruny Island Coastal Retreats Collection. I opted for the smallest of the retreats, the rustic Saintys Creek Cottage. Nestled amongst stunning private forests, fringed with lush ferns and frequented by adorable wildlife, Saintys Creek is an idyllic escape – a log fire, stone floors, and the cosy ambience of a tranquil woodland retreat make for a warm welcome at the end of a long day exploring the island. A dinner on the deck, consisting of my foraged gourmet treasures, was the most wonderful way to watch the sun drift off into the evening.
Paul Fleming Finds Charm in the Channel
Shipwrecks, Whaling and a Quarantine Station: Shining a Light on Bruny’s History
Hidden Gems: Seven Stunning Walks in the Channel
Bruny’s Crowning Jewel: Four Reasons to Visit The Neck
The Brilliant Bounty of Beautiful Bruny Island
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