A freelance writer living and loving in the northern beaches of Sydney...travelling, writing, outdoor activities, gardens, and Pilates are a few of my favourite things. Visit me www.potpourritravels.wordpress.com or www.facebook.com/potpourritravels/
A special birthday late in the year deserved a special venue. As we didn't have the time for an overseas trip, we decide on a long weekend on Bruny Island - an island off the south-east coast of Tasmania. Flying from Sydney to Hobart takes about 2 hours. We pick up a hire-car and the drive through the orchard-dotted Huon Valley is easy and takes about 40 minutes to reach the car ferry that transports us across the D'Entrecasteaux Channel to the mainland of Bruny Island. It is then just a 20-minute drive from the ferry to our self-contained cottage on the northern end of the island. Our lodgings sit high on a ridge overlooking the channel north towards Hobart. We settle in and unpack the provisions we've brought from Hobart, as there are no stores on North Bruny. The paddocks around us are dotted with cattle and sheep. There are no generic resorts, just cottages, homes and self-contained rental accommodation.
The island has north and south ends connected by a long narrow isthmus called 'the Neck'. We climb up the 280 steps to a viewing platform and raised boardwalk and soak up the endless views across the southern ocean. Underneath us is a major colony of breeding Little Penguins. Albatross, Shearwaters and other seabirds swoop past to their nesting sites.
the 'neck' isthmus connecting north and south Bruny Island
We spend the next day exploring South Bruny National Park. We visit Cape Bruny Lighthouse, first lit in 1838, and Australia's second-oldest lighthouse. We walk through unspoilt bushland and spot birds and wildlife. We find waterfalls and secluded beaches. Rugged coastline hems us in.
On our final day, we join a Bruny Island Cruise. Departing from Adventure Bay, we're strapped into life-jackets and board bright yellow boats with about 20 others. Our safety talk tells us not to worry about sharks if we fall overboard as the cold water would kill us first. At high speed, we head south into the endless southern ocean. Bumping over the swell it's both exhilarating and terrifying. Dolphins and whales break the water around us and eventually we settle into a cruising pace close to the cliffs to spy on the colonies of seals, venturing into sea caves. The three hours at sea passes quickly, and with the swell of the massive Southern Ocean buffeting us the whole time, I'm sure glad I took those motion-sickness pills.
Back on land, we stop at the small township of Adventure Bay. The Dutch first arrived here in 1642, then Captain Bligh in 1788 and 1792. Records show Bligh's crew planted some apple trees where they landed at Adventure Bay and the descendants of those trees is said to still be there today. We pick up supplies of milk and bread, there's an ATM and a petrol station. We get oysters, still fresh and dripping seawater from the local co-op, berries from Bruny Island Berry Farm, and a hunk of camembert from Bruny Island Cheese Co.
It's easy to visit Tasmania and miss Bruny Island, tucked away down the coast. But it's overflowing with interesting geography, history, wildlife and outdoor activities. It is possible to do a day-trip from Hobart, by why would you? Stay a while and be enchanted by this historical and natural gem of a place, this little-known corner of Australia.