The Best Things to do on Bruny Island

The Best Things to do on Bruny Island

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.

A Bruny Island trip is a highlight of Tasmania
The Fields of Bruny Island

I have many favourites in Tasmania but Bruny Island is now at the top. Why? Bruny Island is wild, beautiful, diverse and exciting.

Where and What is Bruny Island?

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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.

Visit Bruny Island for a diverse and exciting adventure
Peaceful Bruny Island

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. 

Visit Bruny Island for some charming sights like this little blue church
Blue Church at Bruny Island

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.

Don't miss Adventure Bay on your Bruny Island visit
Adventure Bay

Furthermore, the township of Adventure Bay was named after his ship. In 1777, Captain Cook landed there and even carved his named 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.

Driving around and spotting old farmhouses is one of the things to do on Bruny Island
Old Farmhouse on Bruny Island

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 Dennes Point. 

To get to the island, you must take the Bruny Island ferry from Kettering to Dennes Point
The Bruny Island Ferry

The Neck

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.

When you visit Bruny Island, you must climb up to the Neck Lookout
The Neck

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.

A Bruny Island day trip will take you to the Neck and Truganini Lookout
Truganini Lookout

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.

If you are looking for Bruny Island wildlife, head to the Penguin Rookery at the Neck
The Penguin Rookery at the Neck

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.

Try and catch some Bruny Island wildlife at the Penguin Rookery
Penguins landing on the beach

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.

Penguins are a sought after part of Bruny Island wildlife
Penguins in the dunes at the Neck

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.

The Pennicott Cruise must be on your list even if you are only doing a Bruny Island day trip
Bruny Island Wilderness Cruise

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.

Racing past the Mangana Bluff on the Pennicott Cruise is a fun thing to do on Bruny Island
Mangana Bluff

Adventure Bay

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.

Don't miss the Pennicott Cruise on your Bruny Island trip
Bruny Island Cliffs

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 Pennicott Cruise is one of the Bruny Island highlights
Around the Fluted Cape

Fluted Cape

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.

If you visit Bruny Island, don't miss the Pennicott Cruise
The Fluted Cape

Breathing Rock

Breathing Rock

Arched Island

The Arched Island is a sight to behold when you visit Bruny Island
Arched Island

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 seal colonies of Boreel Head are a great example of Bruny Island wildlife
Seal Colonies at Boreel Head

The seals sit on the rocks to avoid predators. Typically, a colony is made of one male, several females and a number of pups.

Visit Bruny Island for some unique wildlife experiences
Seals at Boreel Head

When a large male holds his head straight up, he has 360-degree vision and is looking out for predators.

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. 

Getting to the edge of Southern Ocean is one of the most exciting things to do on Bruny Island
The Southern Ocean at Bruny Island

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.

Taking a Pennicott Cruise will give a fantastic Bruny Island wildlife adventure
Bruny Island Wilderness Cruise

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 Fluted Cape is one of the best Bruny Island walks
Fluted Cape Walk

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.

The Fluted Cape Walk is a highlight when you visit Bruny Island
South Bruny National Park

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.

Don't miss the Fluted Cape Walk on your Bruny Island trip
Top of the Fluted Cape

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.

The Fluted Cape walk is one of the best things to do on Bruny Island
Fluted Cape from the top

We saw a very precarious looking rockpile off the edge of the cliff, with little rocks on its ledges, seemingly thrown by hikers.

The eucalyptus forest is one of the things to see on Bruny Island
Oceanic Forest at the Fluted Cape

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. 

The painted wallaby is a striking example of Bruny Island wildlife
The Painted Wallaby of Bruny Island

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 mns return
  • Grass Point – 1 hour return
  • Luggaboine Circuit – 1.5 hour circuit
  • Mount Mangana – 1.5 hours return
  • Cape Queen Elizabeth – 2.5 hours return
  • East Cloudy Head – 4 hours return
  • Labillardiere Peninsula – 5 hour circuit
  • Slide Track – 3.5 hours one way
  • Alonnah Sheepwash Track – 1 hour retur

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?

Cloudy Bay is the most beautiful beaches we saw on our Bruny Island visit
Cloudy Bay on Bruny Island

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. 

The drive to the Bruny Island lighthouse is very beautiful
Drive to Cape Bruny Lighthouse

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. 

The Bruny Island Lighthouse is out of commission but still functional today
Cape Bruny Lighthouse

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.

There is a small museum at the Bruny Island Lighthouse keeper's house
Light Keeper Quarters at Cape Bruny Lighthouse

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.

The Bruny Lighthouse tours are one of the best things to do on Bruny Island
Cape Bruny Lighthouse

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!

Take the view from the top of the Bruny Island Lighthouse
View from Bruny Island Lighthouse

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 low coastal shrub.

The Convict Garden at Cape Bruny Lighthouse

This is where you will find the tombs of two young children who died at the lighthouse and the location of the convict garden.

The Children's Tombs at Cape Bruny Lighthouse were discovered a few decades ago
Children’s Tombs at Cape Bruny Lighthouse

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.

Experiencing Bruny Island food and drink is a great highlight of your trip
Oysters and Champagne on Bruny Island

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.

Get Shucked!

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, otherwise you can drive through and take away oysters, including ones to shuck yourself.

The oyster farm is where you can find some great Bruny Island food
Get Shucked Oysters

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.

If you are interested in Bruny Island food, you can include a visit at the Chocolate Factory
Chocolate Factory on Bruny Island

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.

Tasting Bruny Island food can include a stop at the Berry Farm
Berry Farm at Bruny Island

Hotel Bruny

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 Bruny Hotel is a Bruny Island food institution
The Bruny Hotel

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.

The Bruny Island Premium Wines is where you can experience the best Bruny Island food
Bruny Island Premium Wines

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 Dennes Point or last stop before you leave Bruny Island. The Bruny Island House of Whisky has a huge selection of gin and whisky. 

When you visit Bruny Island, you can visit the House of Whisky and do some tasting
House of Whisky

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.

Beyond Tasmania

Tasmania is often combined with a visit of Victoria. For some ideas on what to do, read here about Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road, the Grampians National Park and Sovereign Hill.

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!

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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.
#lesterlost #tasmania #brunyisland #travelblog

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