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Take the best of Tasmania’s gourmet producers and landscapes, then place them on an idyllic island, and you have a winning combination that delights, nourishes and rejuvenates; welcome to southern Tasmania’s Bruny Island. Within cooee of Hobart, yet far enough away to allow you to escape the shackles of city life, Bruny has been a long-loved playground for locals for generations; and now we’re enjoying sharing its charms and beauty with visitors from around the world.

The urges for exploration and adventure are hard to escape on Bruny; and that’s not just about the landscapes, as you’ll find that discovering and foraging for gourmet treats is like your own modern treasure hunt. Named after French explorer Bruni d’Entrecasteaux for his voyage in 1792 (although Abel Tasman had been there earlier in 1642) the island is deceptively large at 363 square kilometers. The island has a rich aboriginal history reaching far earlier still, with its aboriginal name lunawanna-alonnah now enduring as names of two settlements on the island.

For a meander down to the path of history, I called by the Bligh Museum of Pacific Exploration in Adventure Bay. This small museum, constructed from bricks made by convicts on the island, tells the stories of some of the regions early explorers and gives informative context to what you see now around the island, such as place names like Cooktown. Nearby, the Captain Cook monument recalls his visit to Bruny Island in 1777, while the whimsically intricate globe sculpture near the Adventure Bay Store cleverly holds a mother whale and her calf inside it – well worth a look.

Continuing my island meanderings, I stopped for a spot of brunch at the lovely light-filled Café Bruny. The ladies welcomed me with a warm smile and hearty hello – the type you get from an old friend – and I savoured a perfectly brewed latte and generously filled fresh croissant. Inside, the café was a hub of island happenings as locals popped in for their morning fix, while outside birds feasted on the garden under the warm sunshine.

Reading about intrepid explorers – and now with a full belly – I was excited to head out and explore more of the island for myself, in particular the walk to Cape Queen Elizabeth and the elusive Mars Bluff. Unfortunately for me, the weather wasn’t on my side to do the full 12km trek out to the cape, so I opted for the shorter walk to Mars Bluff – a natural arch that stretches out of the sands of Miles Beach. At lower tides the arch can be reached via the coast, with some intriguing rocky crevices to explore along the way. If the tide is in, take the higher track over the headland. Either way is spectacular. The initial walk follows flat marshlands beside Big Lagoon, which is a haven for birdlife, so keep your binoculars handy.

Working up more of an appetite from my trek – and scrambling over rocks to have a look around at the northern end of Neck Beach – I headed to Bruny Island Premium Wines at Lunawanna for a late lunch. Holding the title of Australia’s most southern vineyard, this family run business produces a fine selection of wines, including chardonnay, Riesling and pinot noir. However, it’s their much-loved menu I have come to sample – open seven days for lunch, this is a popular spot on the island. The tasting and share platters of cheeses, oysters, salmon, pork and olives – all produce from the island – looked tantalizing, but it was the seafood chowder with Huon salmon, Bruny Island oysters and Tassie scallops that got me salivating. And as I devoured the flavoursome bowl of Bruny bounty, I let the warmth of the log fire warm my back. A sneaky local pear cider cleansed my palate, as I watched the resident sheep graze amongst the vines.

The accommodation options through Bruny Island Coastal Retreats are nothing short of impressive; choosing just one to stay in will be difficult. The Cloudy Bay Villa has a commanding view south over the wild and rugged Cloudy Bay, with all the comforts inside you expect from a modern holiday home. Falling asleep while listening to the pounding surf is music to the ears of any city dweller, but if you’re a night owl you’ll want to keep an eye on the sky – because with no more man-made light south until Antarctica, the villa is in perfect position for viewing the night sky – and perhaps, if you’re very lucky, a glimpse of the majestic southern lights, the Aurora Australis.

Related posts:
Eat (Then Walk) Your Way Around Bruny Island with Paul Fleming
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

Words and images:
Paul Fleming