Top things to do on Bruny Island

Tasmania, our only island state, has its own island getaway nestled east of the tongue-twisting D’Entrecasteaux Channel. Bruny Island is a slice of unspoilt Australian wilderness, just small enough to cover on a day trip from Hobart. Barry Johnson checks in following a day spent unpacking Bruny's best...

Top things to do on Bruny Island

Top things to do on Bruny Island: Historic Cape Bruny Lighthouse

Top things to do on Bruny Island

A sure-fire way to embark on an adventure is to grab a map of Australia, close your eyes, then randomly reach out for a destination.

After doing this dozens of times and having the lifelong memories, scars and friendships to show for it, I finally landed on Bruny Island, located two hours’ drive south of the Tasmanian capital Hobart.

At the time I imagined a modern-day Robinson Crusoe scenario, surviving adrenalin-fuelled encounters in one of our most southern wildernesses. Fortunately British and French explorers had previously charted the landscape, recording the highlights for a perfect day of discovery.

Here’s a guide to some of the top things to do on Bruny Island.

Top things to do on Bruny Island

Top things to do on Bruny Island: The Neck

Taking the short car-ferry ride from Hobart, we arrive near ‘The Neck’ isthmus, which joins North and South Bruny. The Neck is the best place to begin hiking through the rainforest and along the beaches on South Bruny. There are few places in the world where you can walk with the ocean gently lapping toward your left and right simultaneously.

Our shoes softly thud on the timber steps leading to Truganini Lookout. Reaching the peak we’re serenaded by singing fairy penguins as we gaze over the 360° views of Adventure Bay and Fluted Cape.

A short drive on unsealed roads takes us south to the start of Luggaboine Circuit. It’s 90 minutes of easy hiking through the South Bruny National Park.

The landscape continually changes, from tight hinterland to towering cliffs, broad heathland and sweeping beaches. The circuit is one of many walking trails on the island, so we often have the views to ourselves. It’s here we encounter more of the island’s residents – including sea snakes tamely slithering under a toppled tree after sunning themselves on the warm sand. Wildlife spotting is absolutely one of the top things to do on Bruny Island.

Top things to do on Bruny Island

Top things to do on Bruny Island: Meet the locals. Image: Bigstock

We’re starving by the time we reach Hotel Bruny. The menu is filled with tasty pub grub using fresh local produce. I tuck into the Bruny Island salmon with smashed pink eye potatoes, greens and salsa verde. The scotch fillet steak with Huon Valley mushrooms becomes another reason for a return visit.

Top things to do on Bruny Island

Top things to do on Bruny Island. Image courtesy of Hotel Bruny

Continuing our island exploration, we’re struck by the graphic shopfront at Art at the Point. Margaret Vandenberg, a local artist, creates period waistcoats blending Aboriginal portraits with ocean blues, outback greens and browns over a Union Jack. Her work now tells a story from our lounge room wall.

Top things to do on Bruny Island

Top things to do on Bruny Island

Entering the Inala Reserve, we spot a sign pointing to Jurassic Garden. I quickly brake, knowing dinosaur damage isn’t covered by our hire-car insurance. The attendant reassures us that large carnivores aren’t roaming the grounds.

As we stroll through the garden, we’re overwhelmed by the hundreds of flower and fossil species, millions of years in the making. In the nature reserve, we’re quickly outnumbered by the soaring and gliding eagles, parrots and hooting owls. This is definitely another of the top things to see and do on Bruny Island.

Eager to see sunset without the wind chill, we make Cape Bruny Lighthouse our final stop. Footsteps echoing over the wrought-iron spiral steps, we reach the top, enjoying our second 360° view of the day.

Top things to do on Bruny Island

Top things to do on Bruny Island: Cape Bruny Lighthouse. Image: Patricia Maunder

With the vista stretching to the horizon from this 180-year-old monument, we catch sight of more eagles majestically carried by the roaring winds, screaming at the rare blue whales playing in the bay.

For those staying on the island, it’s possible to do a guided sunset tour of the lighthouse. For us though, darkening skies and heavy Tasman waves crashing against the island’s steep cliffs urge us to the last ferry for the day. We wave to the lighthouse keeper as the tower fades into darkness; a modern solar powered lamp nearby now lights the way for passing ships.

Do you have any tips for top things to do on Bruny Island? We would love to hear from you. Please leave us a comment.

Additional images: Bigstock


About the writer

Barry Johnson is a freelance writer living in Sydney, but with a trail of Aussie souvenirs scattered throughout previous homes in Europe, America, Asia and the Middle East. Barry believes travelling is an adventure where the highlights push you onto the next trip and the lowlights can be laughed at with hindsight. Without a passport, he’d have missed getting lost in the Californian forest a week after the Blair Witch Project went viral, building a giant Buddha on a Cambodian mountain, camel racing in an Egyptian desert and teaching English to Peruvian children as they taught him Quechua, the language of the Incas.

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