Words: Winsor Dobbin
If you really want to get away from it all, Bruny Island has a lot to offer, travel editor Winsor Dobbin reports.
Whether you enjoy hiking, camping, wildlife or gourmet goodies, Bruny Island is an ideal spot to kick back for a few days.
The first thing that hits you is the silence.
Bruny is the same size as Singapore but has a permanent population of around 1000 rather than 4.5 million. Tasmania’s fourth-largest island is just a 30-minute drive and 15-minute car ferry ride from Hobart, a service which operates year-round. It’s close to 100 kilometres from tip to tail and can be almost deserted midweek, making it the perfect escape from city hustle and bustle with limited mobile reception, beautiful beaches and dramatic scenery.
Then there’s the local critters. From white wallabies to quolls and pademelons, a colony of fairy penguins and all manner of birds, from parrots to perky little red-breasted creatures, the island is alive with them. Fur seals inhabit rocky outcrops and can be seen on adventure cruises operated by Rob Pennicott’s Bruny Island Cruises. Also keep an eye out for sea eagles, albatrosses and – during the season – dolphins and whales. There are also echidnas.
Bruny Island was first sighted by Abel Tasman in 1642 and named after Rear Admiral Bruny d’Entrecasteaux, who visited the island in 1792-93. Captains Furneaux, Flinders, Cook and Bligh all anchored in Adventure Bay, which takes its name from Furneaux’s ship.
The tiny Bligh Museum of Pacific Exploration at Adventure Bay and the Alonnah History Rooms are both open to the public.
There are a handful of cafes on what are effectively two islands joined by a narrow isthmus and gourmets will be in their element here with a selection of artisan cheeses and wood-fired breads from Bruny Island Cheese, fresh oysters from Get Shucked and wine tastings at Bruny Island Premium Wines, Australia’s southern-most vineyard.
In summer, enjoy fresh berries from the Bruny Island Berry Farm – pick your own if you enjoy working for your supper. Also check out the chocolate factory and sample some of the island’s smoked goods.
There’s just one pub, and only one petrol station, so it pays to plan ahead if you need a beer or to fill the tank.
Most of the accommodation here is self-catering, or camping. There are no five-star resorts or big brand hotels.
The newest accommodation option is two eco-luxe pods – Free Spirit Pods – that overlook beautiful Quarantine Bay. A perfect escape from the everyday grind. The luxury pods – Blue Wren and Flying Duck – were handcrafted from sustainable Tasmania timbers and fitted out with quality inclusions on eight acres of waterfront bushland that comes alive with wildlife at night.
Get Shucked Oyster Bar and the Bruny Island Cheesery are just a short drive away and there is a two-seater kayak and fishing rods available for guests. While you are miles from anywhere, the pods offer all modern luxuries including Smeg appliances, a De Longhi cooktop, free wifi, Netflix and Bose sound system, along with gourmet treats left by the very hospitable owners.
There are little luxuries like heated bathroom floors and surprises in the fridge that make this somewhere special to stay. Throw in spectacular views from the deck and the fact it is just a short stroll to the beach.
Continental breakfast with a selection of local produce is provided and Garry and Chris are extremely welcoming hosts who are very knowledgeable about the island. Each pod has a queen-sized bed with a view, as well as a sofa bed to accommodate children if required.
Bifold glass doors open onto a large private timber deck with barbecue, providing an al fresco dining option.Each pod features an equipped kitchenette with gas cooktop, microwave and refrigerator; en-suite bathroom with walk-in shower, ceiling fans and free-standing cosy wood-fired pellet heaters.
Should you be seeking a luxury experience, you can arrange to fly in from Hobart by seaplane with Above & Beyond.
For details and bookings see www.alluxia.com/accommodation/bruny-island/free-spirit-pods