Guide at a glance: Bruny Island
Wild beauty ... Bruny Island's dramatic coastal scenery. Photo: Getty Images
Wildlife and scenery are the main drawcards to this remote hideaway south of Hobart, writes Lee Atkinson.
It's wild, lonely, beautiful and remote, the type of place you go to hide from the world in a cliff-top house and spend your days staring out to sea.
What it's known for
Wild scenery and wildlife are the two main drawcards on Bruny. The island is home to one of the largest colonies of the endangered forty-spotted pardalote, as well as penguins and shearwaters, rare white wallabies, seals, dolphins and whales in season, and the three-hour wildlife cruise is one of the most popular things to do on the island. It's also the best way to see some of Australia's highest and most dramatic sea cliffs, and the cruise takes you past sea caves and tall rock stacks. Cruises cost $110 for adults, $65 for kids or $340 for a family (two adults, three children). brunycruises.com.au.
What you didn't know ...
The first European to discover the island was Abel Tasman in 1642, and the first to set foot on it was Tobias Furneaux in 1773, who named Adventure Bay after his ship, but one of its most famous visitors was William Bligh. In 1788 and again in 1792 and 1809, Bligh anchored in Adventure Bay; the first time on the Bounty (before the famous mutiny), the last while virtually a prisoner aboard his ship, the Porpoise, awaiting trial after he was deposed as governor of NSW during the Rum Rebellion. Legend has it Bligh planted the first apple tree in Australia on his first visit, perhaps a hint of Tasmania's later "Apple Isle" fame. Learn about it at the Bligh Museum of Pacific Exploration.
Adventure Bay Retreat is a new luxury getaway set in 13 hectares of bushland in Adventure Bay, the main township on the island. The three-bedroom lodge accommodates eight; the adjacent cottage is set up for couples; and it's a stone's throw from the beach. Rates start at $240 a night a couple with a minimum two-night stay. adventurebayretreat.com.au.
Bruny Island is really two islands, joined by a narrow sandy isthmus called The Neck. Climb the 180 or so steps to the top of the dune for great views of the long curve of white sandy beaches that stretches south on both sides. There's a viewing platform at the bottom of the steps where you can see little penguins come back to their burrows at dusk. At the southern end of Adventure Bay, the 2½-hour Fluted Cape walk offers dramatic coastal scenery; drive to the southernmost point of the island and climb the hill to the lighthouse for views across the cliffs to the southern edge of Australia. Built in 1838, it's the third-oldest lighthouse in Australia.
Where to eat
Beyond a couple of cafes that aren't always open for dinner, there's not a lot of dining options on the island, but there's plenty of great food and most accommodation is self-catering, so touring the island to secure supplies is half the fun of staying there. Bruny Island Smokehouse (BISH) does great smoked meat and fish (360 Lennon Road, Roberts Point, open daily, 11am until late); the handmade cheeses from Bruny Island Cheese (1807 Bruny Island Main Road, daily, 9.30am-5pm) have a cult following; and the oysters from Get Shucked Oyster Farm (1650 Bruny Island Main Road, daily, 10am-5pm) are some of the best you'll find anywhere. Pick up some home-made fudge from HIBA (53 Adventure Bay Road, daily, 10am-4pm) and a bottle of wine at Australia's southernmost winery (Bruny Island Premium Wines, 4391 Main Road, Lunawanna, daily, 11am-4pm).
Where to stay
Perched in the treetops 70 metres above the beach on the northern tip of the island, the three-bedroom Bruny Shore has fantastic ocean views. Rates start at $300 a couple a night. There are large wraparound decks, a fully equipped kitchen, fully loaded iPod, and views from every room, including the main bathroom. (03) 6294 6854, brunyshore.com.au.
How to get there
Access to Bruny Island is by vehicle ferry from Kettering, about a 40-minute drive south of Hobart. It takes 20 minutes to cross the D'Entrecasteaux Channel to North Bruny Island, and ferries depart regularly between 6.35am and 7pm. Return fares for a standard car cost $30 during the week, $35 on public holidays and weekends. For timetable information, see brunyislandferry.com.au.