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Bruny Island: Walkers’ Paradise, Birdwatchers’ Haven
Bruny Island, 100km southeast of mainland Tasmania, is a little-known, though progressively up-and-coming, holiday destination. The well-kept secret is composed of two land masses connected by a narrow sand isthmus, which you can cross on foot. Most of Bruny Island is covered by forests and lined by beaches broken up by rocky cliffs. You are extremely like to get up close and personal with the island’s furry or feathery inhabitants, some of which are rare or endangered. Just look out the windows of your holiday rental and you could spot a white wallaby or the threatened forty-spotted pardalote. And if you’re an avid walker, you can spend your entire break discovering the island’s extensive network of trails, from leisurely strolls to more demanding, day-long hikes. To refuel, indulge in fresh berries or local oysters at the island’s farms.
Bruny Island Walks & Hikes
One of Bruny Island’s distinguishing features is its sheer number of walking trails. There are paths to suit every fitness level, leading to panoramic lookouts, along sandy beaches that time seemingly forgot and beneath rainforest canopies. South Bruny National Park harbours a network of trails, as do the State Forest Reserves. If you’d just like to go for a short scenic stroll, you can venture over to the timber boardwalk leading to Truganini Lookout at ‘The Neck’, the strip of sand connecting the North and South Parts of the island. A flat, 15-minute round-trip, you’ll be privy to some of the island’s most breathtaking 360 degree views. To soak up rainforest tranquility, try the 20-minute return Mavista Nature Walk at Discovery Park. For a more challenging trek, there’s the 10km Slide Track, which follows a defunct tram line for part of the way, descending steeply and providing quite a workout. Meanwhile, a path entrenched in local history, Alonnah Sheepwash Track, follows the foreshore at Alonnah, passing by what’s left of the island’s early European settlements.
Bruny Island Beaches
White or gold sand; take your pick. Bruny Island’s beaches are as diverse as the scenery. There are numerous quiet, virtually untouched beaches fronting calm waters, just as there are turbulent surf beaches. If you’re travelling with the kids, head to sheltered Adventure Bay Beach, close to many of the island’s tourist attractions. South Bruny National Park is home to Jetty Beach, favoured by swimmers and boating enthusiasts, whereas Cloudy Beach and The Neck boast some of the best surfing conditions in Tasmania. Every February, Bruny Island hosts the Surf Classic state championship competition, so make sure to take that into consideration if you’re an avid surfer. If you want to get further out onto the water, there are ample opportunities to rent paddle boats and kayaks or even hire a fishing charter on Bruny Island.
Wildlife Observation on Bruny Island
Bruny Island is considered an Important Bird Area by Birdlife International, as it is home to multiple endangered species, including the forty-spotted pardalote and the swift parrot. The island also acts as an important breeding ground for the Tasmanian muttonbird. Unsurprisingly, birdwatchers from around Australia come to observe Bruny Island’s unique species, so bring your binoculars! Beyond birdlife, travellers are likely to spot white wallabies, quolls or even golden brushtail possums right from their holiday rentals, since so much of the island is covered by the forests and cliffs which represent these species’ natural habitats. As the sun sets, head to The Neck to see fairy penguins returning home after a day out at sea. To get to know Bruny Island’s coastal fauna better, take part in a wilderness cruise hosted by award-winning Bruny Island Cruises, where your guide will point out various aquatic species, such as fur seals lounging on the seafront cliffs, dolphins frolicking in the waters near shore and migrating whales passing through the channel.
Food & Wine on Bruny Island
Beyond natural attractions, Bruny Island boasts a thriving culinary scene, with bountiful opportunities to buy local produce right from the source. Sample Tasmanian Single Malt Whisky as part of a tasting at Bruny Island House of Whisky or bring home local, European-inspired cheese from Bruny Island Cheese Co. Take the whole family to Bruny Island Berry Farm and pick your own strawberries or purchase homemade jams and other treats, such as berry ice cream. The farm is set in the bush, with plenty of space for picnics and barbecues. Alternately, spend some time at Get Shucked Oyster Farm’s oyster bar, where you’ll be able to try freshly harvested oysters paired with Tasmanian wine, beer or spirits. Meanwhile, the settlement of Alonnah harbours several acclaimed pubs and restaurants, including the waterfront Hotel Bruny Bistro, which serves Modern Australian cuisine.
Getting to Bruny Island
To access Bruny Island from mainland Tasmania, there is a ferry which operates daily, leaving from Kettering. The ferry completes approximately 8 round trips a day and you can bring your car, 4WD or caravan onboard (cost varies). The journey takes roughly 40 minutes.