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When it comes to Tasmania, it’s hard for me not to get lost in superlatives… The most beautiful, the best, the wildest… But it’s true, Tasmania is all these things, which is why I keep going back. My exploration of Tasmania has taken many places and recently, I discovered the wild and wonderful Bruny Island. While I was there, I discovered there are many things to do on Bruny Island.
I have many favourites in Tasmania but a road trip on Bruny Island is now at the top. Why? Bruny Island is wild, beautiful, diverse and exciting.
Where and What is Bruny Island?
Bruny Island is one of Tasmania’s southernmost islands. Only 45 minutes from Hobart, it’s a popular destination for day trips, but there is so many things to do on Bruny Island, we dedicated 4 days to it and you could easily spend up to a week.
Bruny Island is really made of two land masses, connected by an isthmus called the Neck. The island is connected to the mainland of Tasmania by a ferry.
The length of Bruny Island is about 100 km so it’s quite significant so you really need a vehicle to get around. Its size and location at the south-east tip of Tasmania, as well as its proximity to the Southern Ocean, have made Bruny Island an important landmark for seafarers and explorers.
In fact, Bruny Island bears the legacy of many historical explorers of Australia. The island was named after French explorer Bruni d’Entrecasteaux. Abel Tasman tried to land there in 1642 and Tobias Furneaux was the first European to land on Bruny Island.
Furthermore, the township of Adventure Bay was named after his ship. In 1777, Captain Cook landed there and even carved his name into a tree trunk, which was lost in a bushfire in 1905. Finally, William Bligh and Matthew Flinders also visited the island.
The north and south of Bruny Island are quite different, which is what makes this destination so diverse. The north is rural, with pastures and farms. On the other hand, the south is wild, covered in eucalyptus forests and rugged coastline.
In my four days on the island, I explored actively, drove long distances and defined the best and many things to do in Bruny Island.
Take a Ferry
Bruny Island is connected to mainland Tasmania by a ferry, leaving from Kettering, only 45 minutes from Hobart. Leaving every half hour, the ferry to Bruny Island is an easy crossing to
The Neck is the isthmus that links the north and the south of the island, and it’s probably the most iconic view of Bruny Island. There is a car park at the foothill, and you can climb the wooden steps to the Neck Lookout, also known as Truganini Lookout.
Truganini deserves a mention as she was considered one of the last full-blooded Tasmanian Aboriginals. She and her family also suffered terrible cruelty at the hands of colonial settlers.
The Neck is a spectacular lookout, offering 360 degree views over Bruny Island. It is especially beautiful during sunset.
The Penguin Rookery
One of the best things to do in Bruny Island is to observe the local wildlife and there are plenty of opportunities to do so. There is a small penguin colony at Bruny Island and the boardwalk at the Neck extends into a viewing platform so you can watch the parade of the charming little creatures coming back onshore to nest at sundown.
The penguins come out of the surf at sundown, there is really no action until it’s quite dark. The deck is quite close to the beach and the penguin burrows are visible along the sides.
There is a ranger giving a talk on penguins and mutton birds.
Unlike the penguin parade at Phillip Island in Victoria, this one is much smaller. Photography is allowed with certain conditions. Indeed, it’s important to disable your flash or use the red plastic sheets handed down by the ranger.
This ensures that the penguins are not disoriented by any kind of white, harsh light. If you have a torch, which is quite a good idea because it’s quite dark by the time the penguins appear, you will need to cover it with the red plastic.
It seemed to me that the penguin colony was a lot smaller than Phillip Island but I was only there one night. The good thing is that photography is allowed, but I found it difficult to get good photos of the penguins. Also, there is no bus parking at the Neck, so you are not overwhelmed by large groups and the viewing from the deck is for a relatively small group.
The penguin rookery is not a commercial operation, it’s only the local ranger giving a talk. However, I didn’t find the experience enthralling. Maybe trying to view little penguins in the dark is a little too hard… Nonetheless, the ones you do get to see are adorable…
The Bruny Island Wilderness Cruise
The Wilderness Cruise is one of the best things to do when you visit Bruny Island. As a Bruny Island day tour, it really captures the sense of adventure and remoteness of the place. I took the tour as a paying customer and I can thoroughly recommend it.
The Bruny Island Wilderness Cruise is very popular with visitors and it’s important to book ahead. The high powered speedboats take you south of the island, around Fluted Cape and Boreel Head.
There are a number of things to see along the way, including seal colonies and various sea birds. In my opinion, the most incredible experience is to venture into the Southern Ocean. So here is how it goes to go on the Bruny Island Wilderness Cruise.
The boats depart from Adventure Bay. Three or four boats may depart at the same time. As this is a speed boat ride, you need to be dressed comfortably and warmly. There is no meal included in the cruise but you can purchase something at the café before or after.
There is a thorough yet brief security brief when you get on board. Also, they hand out big red ponchos to protect you from the spray. Yes, you do get wet on this cruise but not too much. Finally, the crew offers ginger pills in order to avoid sea sickness but that’s totally up to you.
Where to sit on the boat?
The boat fills the front first but I don’t think that’s where the best seats are, as you get quite wet. I was sitting on the “aisle” seat which was really handy when the boat stopped. I could get out of my seat and take photos quite freely.
The cliffs around Fluted Cape are very impressive, falling vertically in the ocean. The perfection of the rocks is fascinating and a rare phenomenon. Interestingly, the cliffs only stretch for 8 meters under the ocean surface, which is quite a unique geological feature.
Boreel Head & the Seal Colonies
Around Boreel Head, there are some colonies of Australian seals and New Zealand fur seals. The boat gets quite close to the rocks so you can observe them well.
The seals sit on the rocks to avoid predators. Typically, a colony is made of one male, several females and a number of pups.
When a large male holds his head straight up, he has
The Southern Ocean
My favourite part of the cruise was to enter the Southern Ocean. I found it fascinating to experience the Roaring Forties: the swell is broader, the wind is stronger and most of all, the noise is louder.
The conditions were really choppy but it was fantastic to experience the Southern Ocean.
The Way Back
On the way back, the boats really powered up all the way to Adventure Bay, without stopping. We saw some common dolphins on the way and they did engage with the boats a little bit, but they are really difficult to photograph properly.
It is possible to see whales occasionally however the Bruny Island Wilderness Cruise doesn’t make a point of seeking them out.
The birdlife is quite plentiful around these waters. We saw some albatross, Southern Ocean petrels and shearwaters.
Book your Bruny Island Wilderness Cruise
Overall, I thought the Wilderness Cruise was one of the best things to do on Bruny Island. It’s a fun and interesting experience. Also, the crew was friendly and attentive, most of them being local to Bruny Island.
If you are interested in booking the Bruny Island Wilderness Cruise, check out the additional information and current tour prices.
The Fluted Cape Walk
Bruny Island is a great place for a bush walk. We chose to do the Fluted Cape Walk but there are many others.
The road to Adventure Bay is enjoyable, with various viewpoints by the side of the road. We parked near the beach and started walking on the sand. Then there was a gentle climb through the woods.
There was lots of bird life in the woods: blue wrens, kookaburras…
The path takes you through the location of the former whaling station. There isn’t much left to see, apart from a plaque.
We then took a left turn towards Fluted Cape and enjoyed the beautiful smells of the eucalyptus forest. Then, the climb gets pretty steep through the dry forest or Oceanic scrub.
At times, the path is very close to the cliff edge and it’s not always obvious, so I recommend extreme caution. I actually thought this walk wouldn’t be suitable for young children. The view from the cliffs is stunning though.
We saw a very precarious looking rockpile off the edge of the cliff, with little rocks on its ledges, seemingly thrown by hikers.
After you get the top, the trail meanders down through the forest, which gradually changes. The descent is less steep, through long grass.
The Painted Wallaby
One of the best things to do on Bruny Island is to watch the wildlife and the end section of the Fluted Cape Walk is where you can spot some white wallabies. The painted wallaby is also known as Bennett’s Wallaby and a rare genetic mutation gives it its white fur.
We weren’t really looking for them and stumbled upon one on the footpath. We approached very gently and quietly. The wallaby didn’t move and we were able to get really close. The white fur is quite striking compared to the colours of the forest and other wallabies around.
Eventually, as we progressed very gently along the path, he hopped away… But what a lovely Bruny Island wildlife encounter!
Bruny Island Walks
You have many options for Bruny Island Walks and I really recommend spending some time in nature…
- Mavista Nature Walk – 45
- Grass Point –
1 hourreturn LuggaboineCircuit – 1.5 hourcircuit
- Mount Mangana – 1.5 hours return
- Cape Queen Elizabeth – 2.5 hours return
- East Cloudy Head – 4 hours return
- Labillardiere Peninsula –
- Slide Track – 3.5 hours one way
- Alonnah Sheepwash Track –
Go to the Beach
In Tasmania, the sky is often “angry”, with grey clouds and rain not far away… However, if you get a sunny day and can brave the cold water temperatures, why not take a break at the beach?
Visit the Cape Bruny Lighthouse
With no less than 100km to travel from north to south, the distances on Bruny Island are quite significant. However, travelling all the way to the South Bruny National Park is well worth it. In my view, visiting the cape and the lighthouse is one of the best things to do on Bruny Island.
It is a long drive to the cape, partially on a dirt road but there are some lookouts along the way.
Cape Bruny Lighthouse
The lighthouse at Cape Bruny was built in 1836, after a series of devastating shipwrecks and first lit in 1838. The build took eighteen months, with twelve convicts doing the work.
Cape Bruny Lighthouse is the second oldest lighthouse in Australia and light keepers let an isolated and hard life on the rugged cliffs of Tasmania.
The lighthouse was boarded up until recently, when a local tour company decided to run tours of the lighthouse.
Light Keepers Quarters
There are three buildings near the lighthouse, all for light keeper use. Indeed, there had to be three keepers on site at any time: the lighthouse keeper, an assistant and a relief keeper.
One of the light keepers quarters is now a museum with some artefacts, machinery, marine flags, as well as some information on the local flora and fauna.
The Lighthouse Tours
The company that operates the lighthouse tours is owned by the son of one of the last light keepers at Cape Bruny Lighthouse. Therefore, there are lots of stories and small details being told in the visit, which makes it really fun.
For example, a telephone line was first installed in 1902. The old phone on the wall inside the lighthouse is circa 1911 and the line is still connected!
If it’s not too windy, the guide might take you onto the outside balcony and you can look over to Antarctica… Isn’t that a romantic idea?
I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the Cape Bruny Lighthouse and, for a small price, I was more than happy to contribute to the upkeep of such an interesting piece of history.
If you are interested in booking the Lighthouse tour, check out the additional information and current tour prices.
The Convict Garden & Cemetery
In order to complete your visit to the Cape Bruny Lighthouse, there is a path descending towards the beach, in
This is where you will find the tombs of two young children who died at the lighthouse and the location of the convict garden.
Enjoy the Food & Drink of Bruny Island
True to the tradition of Tasmania, Bruny Island is a fantastic repository of delicious locally sourced food and drink. Most of the food places are on North Bruny and you can stock up on supplies before crossing the isthmus. However, even if you are staying on South Bruny, I recommend dedicating a day to the wonderful Bruny Island food and drink.
You can combine the Lighthouse tour and a gourmet food tour in one day. If you are interested in booking this tour, check out the additional information and current tour prices.
The oyster farm is probably one of the best food things to do on Bruny Island. If you love oysters, you will be in heaven! You can dine on site in the licensed cafe,
Bruny Island Cheese Co
The Bruny Island Cheese Company is another stop on the Bruny Island food trail. The cheese selection is fairly limited but good quality. The cheese making process is visible through the windows and they also have a selection of locally crafted beers.
You can enjoy cheese plates and a beer selection on the tables outside.
Bruny Island Chocolate Factory
The Bruny Island Chocolate Factory is in South Bruny, close to Adventure Bay. The chocolates are nice however they are not made onsite, so the term “factory” is a little misleading.
Bruny Island Berry Farm
The Bruny Island Berry Farm is a small operation with nice views over Adventure Bay. The range of products is limited but you can wander around the berry farm.
Hotel Bruny is in Alonnah, South Bruny and a Bruny Island classic! We stayed in Alonnah almost within walking distance of the pub so we had to try it!
The food is quite decent and there is a very good selection of wines and beers. As this is the only restaurant in Alonnah, the crowd was quite diverse but overall it was quite a family atmosphere.
Bruny Island Café
The Bruny Island Café has some basic food options available and limited drinks, however the view over the rolling hills is very beautiful.
Bruny Island Premium Wines
In Lunawanna, on South Bruny, lies a very bucolic landscape, with rolling fields and farm animals. The Bruny Island winery has a restaurant that offers the best food on Bruny Island, which you can enjoy while overlooking the vineyards.
There is also a cellar door. There is a very good but limited selection of wines, however the prices are quite high.
Bruny Island House of Whisky
This could be your first stop after the ferry terminal at
Tasmania makes some very good whisky, some of them have quite a unique taste and one was even voted best whisky in the world. You can buy a selected tasting and enjoy a fine drop with water views.
If you are interested in buying whisky, there is plenty to choose from, however, the prices start at around $200-300 for a bottle. The reason for this is that the taxes are very high (twice as much as they are in Scotland) and the production isn’t large enough to spread the cost.
Where Else in Tasmania?
As Bruny Island is “an island off an island”, you are bound to visit other places in Tasmania. I have a comprehensive list of places to visit in Tasmania to inspire you and also more detail on Tasmania’s East Coast. Also, I recommend Cradle Mountain as a hiking destination.
Has this list of things to do on Bruny Island managed to tempt you to visit? Tell me about your plans in the comments below!