A day on, and around, Bruny Island

Warning: May contain an excess of seals.

Having two vessels operating the Bruny run made it possible to get this shot of the larger of the two, the double-decker Mirambeena
Having two vessels operating the Bruny run made it possible to get this shot of the larger of the two, the double-decker Mirambeena

Yesterday I made an all-to-infrequent visit to Bruny Island. I’ve always had a soft spot for Adventure Bay going back to when I was a small child, when my grandparents had a shack there at which we would spend most school holidays. My grandfather used to take his little boat out and catch all sorts of fish and crays, on which the family would be fed. I recall being fed crayfish sandwiches regularly for lunch, and to this day my mother can’t bear to eat them, having had a surfeit as a girl.

Adventure Bay, Bruny Island

Back then Adventure Bay and Bruny in general was all very low key, with self-built shacks and dirt roads all the way. There were no cafes – when we needed milk, we took the billy down to the kiosk at the nearby camping ground where the proprietor would pop out the back and see the cow. Now Bruny is a hot destination it’s much busier and the houses are big and modern, but in the midst of all that there’s still plenty of the old seaside charm that made, and still makes it, a special place for me.

Creek at Adventure Bay

Yesterday’s trip was an Instameet, with around three dozen mostly local instagrammers being hosted by Pennicott Wilderness Journeys, Tourism Tasmania and regional tourism organisation Destination Southern Tasmania.

After coaching from Hobart and crossing to Bruny on the short ferry trip, we made a stop at The Neck, where so many vehicles had stopped, there was almost a traffic jam in the parking area at the side of the narrow main road. Most visitors climb straight to the top and take selfies and panoramic views back down the steep staircase and on to South Bruny – one of the most frequently instagrammed views of Tasmania.

Rush hour at Chichen Itza (the ascent to the lookout at The Neck, Bruny Island)

The challenge then, for any self-respecting instagrammer, is to try and find views that are less well-known and shared. For this reason, many of us eschewed the climb to the lookout and went straight to the beach, which most tourists ignore, so it’s generally pretty deserted. I’ll let the reader decide whether I managed to achieve my objective, but there’s no denying the majesty of the views.

Muted marine palette as waves pumped into the beach
Deserted beach
Dunes at The Neck, Bruny Island
Catching a wave – Adventure Bay, Bruny
A photograph of a photographer photographing a photographer taking a photograph – Ben and Dietmar
Jared checking that all the penguins were accounted for
Allan being ladylike at lunch

After lunch at their base at Adventure Bay, it was time to board one of Rob Pennicott’s yellow boats for the Bruny Island Cruise.  It’s almost a decade since I last went on what has become Tasmania’s (and one of Australia’s) most acclaimed and awarded tourism experiences, and it’s a credit to Rob and his team that it’s every bit as fresh, enjoyable and thrilling today as it was back then. We were skippered by Mick and looked after by guide Suzy, who did a wonderful job of looking after everyone on board.

The cruise begins

In all the time I spent at Adventure Bay as a child, I don’t recall ever going around the corner of Grass Point and Penguin Island to see the eastern coastline, so the Bruny Island cruise is something of a revelation. Huge sea cliffs of columnular dolerite soar up from the sea bed, pierced by caves and blowholes and capped by forest. It’s all national park, so inaccessible to all but the most intrepid of bushwalkers, but it would be difficult to appreciate the power of the ocean and the scale of the scenery from land.

Through the gap
Sea Cave
Lichen on dolorite
Bull kelp clinging to dolorite
Fluted Cape
Sea cliffs and bull kelp
Cove on Bruny Island’s east coast
The eye of the needle – sea cave off the coast of Bruny Island

Dolphins, albatoss, shearwaters, cormorants (known locally as shags) and other wildlife are in abundance.

Shades of green
Suddenly the dolorite is gone, replaced by sedimentary sandstone
An albatross
A pod of dolphins
South Bruny’s wild and treacherous coastline

A few miles down the coast, of the corner of South Bruny, the Tasman Sea meets the Great Southern Ocean and the sea begins to boil, even on a calm day. Seals congregate on the edges of a set of rocky off-shore islands known as The Friars, basking in the afternoon sun.

The coast is wilder, as are the seas
Spot the odd one out
Seals make the hardest of rocks look irresistably comfortable

I’m not sure of the origin of the phrase ‘the bee’s knees’ to describe something that is very fine; I’m going to start using the phrase ‘the seal’s whiskers’ in its place!

It’s the seal’s whiskers
Shags on a rock
Boiling seas, south Bruny

It was a brilliant day out, but it has whetted my appetite to return and spend some time exploring Bruny’s many other attractions and picturesque corners.

Dunes at The Neck, Bruny Island
kunanyi / Mount Wellington from Adventure Bay
Looking north west from The Neck towards kunanyi and the Wellington Range
The master at work – Dietmar Kales
The southern coast of Bruny Island
Boiling seas hide reefs off South Bruny Island
South Bruny’s wild and treacherous coastline

16 Comments Add yours

  1. Simply stupendous story and photos. Would you believe I have never been to Bruny – now your photos will pull me there. Hopefully sometime soon. Many thanks.

    1. Thanks Helen. Could it be your next epic walk?

  2. stewart Ross says:

    Some great photographs there Andrew – dad

  3. Mappie Pyper says:

    Wonderful photos again Andrew, love seeing your photography, always an unusual angle.

  4. lifecatchme says:

    I loved your write up & pics. The cliffs sure are something to behold from the water.

    1. Thanks Theresa, really appreciate that.

  5. Czeching Out says:

    Fantastic post Andrew, great shots!

  6. Fantastic photographs! Until I got my own boat this trip was something of an annual pilgrimage out to the Friars. Lovely insights into what Bruny was once like… I camped there under the stars about three weeks ago so still regard it as a laid back place with lots of basic shacks – very appealing!

    1. Thanks so much for that. Must be amazing down there in your own boat.

  7. RuthsArc says:

    Delightful photos. We’ve been to Bruny a few times and explored but I love your recollections of the island back in your grandparents day. We must do the Pennicott tour though, it sounds amazing.

    1. Thank you Ruth, yes it’s changed a bit, but still retains plenty of charm. I’d thoroughly recommend any of Rob Pennicott’s experiences – they are all wonderful, but the Bruny cruise was his first.

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