Across the D Entrecasteaux Channel a short drive south of Hobart, Bruny Island is effectively two quite different islands connected by a narrow neck of sand. With its wild seascapes and sweeping surf beaches, rich maritime history, abundant birdlife and wildlife, tall forests and historic lighthouse, Bruny is an island paradise in Australia's deep south.
The island has an abundance of indigenous birdlife, marsupials and marine life. Whales, seals, dolphins, penguins, sea lions, sea eagles, albatrosses, cormorants, gannets can be seen in their natural environments. A unique feature is its thousand-year old 'blackboy' rainforests and the spring months of September and October reveal spectacular native flowers.
Where Is it?: South of Hobart, by ferry from Kettering on the Channel Highway. Alonnah is the administrative capital of Bruny Island.
In terms of breathtaking majesty, few features on South Bruny Island compare to a series of sea caves found along its rocky coastline. 'Breathtaking' is an over-used word used to describe Australia's scenery, but when it comes to these amazing coastal caverns, it is totally appropriate. The only way to see these caves is by boat; Bruny Island Cruises take tourists close to the huge caves carved by the wind and surf out of the cliff face but if you prefer to see them at close range, then sea kayak is the only way to go.
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Adventure Bay, the large bay on the eastern side of the isthmus that joins North and South Bruny Island, could be called the birth place of Van Diemen s Land Tasmania. Its list of 17th and 18th century European visitors reads like a who s who of leading Pacific explorers from the golden age of world exploration. British navigators James Cook, Tobias Furneaux, Wiliam Bligh and Matthew Flinders all visited Adventure Bay during their exploatory voyages.
The bay was first sighted by Abel Tasman in 1642 when exploring for the great south land south of the then known world because of gale force winds, he was unable to make a landing. James Cook, Matthew Flinders, William Bligh and French explorer Nicolas Baudin all made landfalls at Bruny Island's Adventure Bay. The remains from whalers and loggers from 1820-1850 and timber bridges spanning gullies 30 metres deep are also on display and are part of the unique heritage from the pioneer settler period.
British explorer James Cook in HMS Resolution and Captain Tobias Furneaux in HMS Adventure left England in 1772 to explore the South Seas. Becoming separated, Furneaux followed Tasman's chart and in 1773 found the bay naming it Adventure Bay - replenished his water and wood supplies and sailed on to New Zealand. Cook landed at Adventure Bay in 1777 from HMS Resolution with William Bligh as sailing master.
Captain Bligh revisited Adventure Bay in 1788 with botanist Nelson planted a number of fruit trees on the east side of the bay which he brought from the Cape of Good Hope. When he returned in 1792 he found that one apple tree was still growing, the others having been consumed by fire. It is said this was the Tasmania's first apple tree. Tasmania was later to become known throughout the world as the Apple Isle of Australia. The bay became a centre of the whaling industry with whalers using the Bay as early as 1804. By 1829 the Bay supported some 80 to 90 men, two sloops and up to twenty whale boats.
As well as discovering, in 1798, that Tasmania was an island George Bass and Matthew Flinders again visited and explored Bruny Island and the D'Entrecasteaux Channel in December 1798 when they circumnavigated Tasmania in the sloop Norfolk. They first sailed to Preservation Island then across to the north west corner of Tasmania and down the west coast until they reached Fluted Cape on Bruny Island. Norfolk moored in Storm Bay and was then taken up the Derwent River and into the D'Entrecasteaux Channel, with Flinders doing his usual meticulous mapping as they went. Bass and Flinders spent four days in Oyster Cove sheltering from rough weather before heading back to Sydney in January 1799.
In 1801 an expedition to Bruny Island and the D'Entrecasteaux Channel was led by the Frenchman Captain Nicholas Baudin. This expedition, with two well equipped ships and a group of scientists, was the first purely scientific expedition to Tasmania and it focused primarily on the Bruny Island and D Entrecasteaux Channel region. The French met Tasmania s Aboriginal peoples and treated them with high respect.
The narrow isthmus joining North and South Bruny is called The Neck. On the east side is Adventure Bay, on the west side is Simpsons Bay, which is part of the larger isthmus Bay. At the top of the hummock on the sandbar is the Truganini Lookout - reached via a timber stepped boardwalk that affords 360 degree panoramic views of the Bruny Island coastline.
The Narrow Neck lookout honours Tuganini, who is probably the best known Tasmanian Aboriginal women of the colonial era. She was of the Nuenonne group, born on Bruny Island in about 1812, just nine years after British settlement was established further north on the mainland, close to what is now Hobart. By the time she had learned to collect food and make shell necklaces, the colonial presence became not only intrusive but dangerous. She had experienced and witnessed violence, rape and brutalities inflicted on her people. By the time she was 17 she had lost her mother, sister, uncle and would-be partner to violent incidents involving sailors, sealers, soldiers and wood cutters. At this time, in 1829, the Black War was under way and Truganini was detained at the Missionary Bay station on Bruny Island.
Placed in the custody of Augustus Robinson, a government-backed conciliator who set out to capture all independently living Tasmanian Aborigines, she remained for the rest of her life under the supervision of colonial officers. Except for a short interlude, accompanying Robinson in his travels to Port Phillip (now part of Melbourne), she spent 20 years imprisoned, with other Aboriginal Tasmanians, on Flinders Island, and another 17 years in the Oyster Cove camp, south of Hobart. Details of her biography are sketchy, predominantly drawn from the journals and papers of Robinson, with whom she was associated for ten turbulent years until her long detention on Flinders Island. She was bright, intelligent and energetic, known as one of the few Aboriginal Tasmanians rooted in pre-contact language and culture, who survived beyond the middle of the 19th century.
When the number of detained Aboriginal Tasmanians fell below 20 in 1854, there was growing appreciation that Tasmanians were a unique human group, distinctly different from mainland Australian Aborigines. Soon this interest expanded beyond paintings and photographs. Scientists and entrepreneurs attempted to obtain human bodies for research and exhibitions. From the position of her Aboriginal beliefs and spirituality, Truganini feared that, when she died, her body would be cut into pieces for scientific or pseudo-scientific purposes as it had already happened to another Aboriginal Tasmanian William Lenne in 1869. She also feared that her remains would be displayed in a museum for public viewing. Truganini pleaded to colonial authorities for a respectful burial. Despite her pleas, she was buried at the former Female Factory at Cascades, a suburb of Hobart. Within two years, her skeleton was exhumed by the Royal Society of Tasmania and later placed on display.
On 30th April 1976, seven days short of the centenary of her death, Trugernanner's remains were finally cremated and scattered according to her wishes - in the D'Entrecasteaux Channel, close to her birthplace and homeland. In 1997 the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter, England, returned Truganini's necklace and bracelet to Tasmania. In 2002, some of her hair and skin were found in the collection of the Royal College of Surgeons of England and returned to Tasmania for burial.
Alonnah is one of the main townships of Bruny Island. It is approximately 35 minutes drive from Roberts Point, and faces D'Entrecasteaux Channel. Alonnah is home to Hotel Bruny - Australia's southern-most pub. The Bruny Island District School, Online Access Centre, Police Station and Health Service are also located at Alonnah.
Alonnah is the main location in Bruny Island for government facilities, including post office, police station, primary school, internet centre, community library, pharmacy, and health centre with nurses, a visiting doctor, physiotherapist, and other health practitioners. There is also a museum located in the court house, Bruny Hotel, and a small general store.
The Alonnah Dray track is an easy walking track of historical value, beginning at Alonnah jetty.
Originally named Mill's Reef, it was renamed in the early 1900s after part of the Tasmanian aboriginal name for Bruny Island, Lunawanna-alonnah (a nearby township a little to its south being named Lunawanna. Mill's Reef Post Office opened on 1 February 1905 and was renamed Alonnah in 1909.
In the early 1900s, Alonnah jetty was used by many vessels traversing the d'Entrecasteaux Channel with cargo and passengers. On Thursdays a weekly trip to Hobart took passengers shopping for the day. The pontoon that takes the place of the jetty today is the last surviving section of the Hobart Floating Arch Bridge that was in use to cross the Derwent River from October 1943 to August 1964. This section was towed to Alonnah on 27th June 1972.
Dennes Point is both a geographical feature and a small township at the northern tip of Bruny Island. It is named after the Denne family who first settled the area as farmers around the 1830s, although it was known as Kelly's Point up to the 1840s, being named after pioneer shipmaster and harbour pilot James Kelly (Australian explorer). Kelly gained fame for circumnavigating Tasmania in a whaling-boat, he was also known as being the father and founder of whaling in Tasmania.
Kelly's Point was the gateway to North Bruny from before the turn of the century, until the event of the vehicular ferry in 1954. Anthony Smith Denne commenced a regular ferry service in 1847 across the D'Entrecasteaux Channel between Tinderbox and "Kelly's" Point, although the island is now serviced by a vehicular ferry between Kettering and Roberts Point.
Over the years Dennes Point has seen mixed agricultural activity, mostly orcharding and light grazing.
A 25 minute drive from Roberts Point where the ferry arrives, Dennes Point is a great boating and fishing spot, a safe swimming-beach and picnic-area, it boasts spectacular views of the channel and Derwent estuary. Fishing is available from the jetty. Close by, Bull Bay was a major whaling station in the 1820's.
South Bruny National Park lies at the southern tip of Bruny Island off the southeast coast of Tasmania. The park encompasses all of the coastline and some of the hinterland between Fluted Cape and the southern part of Great Taylors Bay. South Bruny National Park is renowned for its varied wildlife, including fairy penguins and many species of reptile. Cape Bruny Lighthouse at the southern end of the Park offers panoramic views of the Southern Ocean and the island s spectacular coastline from this 'bottom of Australia' lookout. Fairy penguins come ashore at dusk at The Neck Reserve; mutton birds also nest in the sand dunes of the narrow isthmus.
Much of the coast is comprised of towering cliffs, muttonbird rookeries, gardens of kelp seaweed and long sandy beaches. In some areas the park extends several kilometres back from the coastline, where lush rainforest may be found containing several endemic plant species (plants unique to Tasmania). The popularity of South Bruny National Park as a tourist destination is enhanced by its abundant birdlife, coastal heathland and its prominent place in the history of Tasmania.
Wildlife: Most animals in the park are nocturnal, however short-beaked echidnas are active in daytime, making them easier to see. One of earliest echidna specimens was collected in 1792 at Adventure Bay. Captain Bligh both drew and described this pecular animal. In the evening brushtail possums, Tasmanian pademelons and Bennetts wallabies are often seen. Around the Fluted Cape entrance to the park a small and unusual population of white Bennetts wallabies may be seen feeding in the open paddocks at dusk.
The surrounding marine environment is home to seals and whales. The Australian fur seal, the most common seal in Tasmanian waters, can be seen around The Friars. If you are lucky enough you may encounter a rare visitor to the park, a leopard seal that has come ashore to rest. Leopard seals are the only seal to regularly prey on warm-blooded animals such as penguins, birds and other seals. Two whale species, the humpback and the threatened southern right whale, also frequent the Adventure Bay area. They are attracted to this area because it is shallow and protected.
Camping: Camping areas are located at Cloudy Bay (the Pines and Cloudy Corner), and Jetty Beach. All have pit toilets, limited water and fireplaces.
Swimming: Adventure Bay and Jetty Beach provide safe, sheltered areas for swimming, while Cloudy Bay is a popular spot for experienced surfers.
Boating: As there are no ramps in the park, boats can be launched from the beaches when necessary. The jetty on Partridge Island should only be used for landing and disembarking - no mooring is permitted. Please avoid birds on the beach, especially between September and March when they are breeding.
Walks: A variety of walking tracks within South Bruny National Park provide breathtaking views of the spectacular coastline with its towering cliffs. Walks vary from pleasant strolls along Cloudy Bay beach to the longer and more demanding Labillardiere Peninsula circuit.
Cape Bruny and Cloudy Bay lie at the far south of Bruny Island. Each year, Cloudy Bay plays host to the Bruny Island Surf Classic - a Tasmanian surfing championship held on the island. Cape Bruny is home to Cape Bruny Lighthouse. An iconic Australian lighthouse, it was the oldest continuous lighthouse under operation by the Commonwealth. Now out of service, it has been transferred to the Tasmanian Government and is part of the South Bruny National Park. It is Australia's second oldest and longest continually staffed lighthouse lies at the end of Lighthouse Road. The lighthouse grounds are open for inspection.
Following a series of mishaps and shipwrecks south of Bruny Island, including the catastrophic wreck of the convict transport, George III, in 1835, Governor George Arthur agreed to erect a lighthouse to guide vessels past Bruny Island. When first lit in March 1838 Cape Bruny was Tasmania s third lighthouse, and Australia s fourth. It is now the country s second oldest and longest continually staffed extant lighthouse.
Life for Cape Bruny s nineteenth century lightkeepers harsh and the nightly task of maintaining the light was unremitting. Despite their long hours on duty, Tasmanian lightkeepers were poorly paid and many toiled for years without leave. Technological advances in the 1980s and 1990s permanently altered the operation of Australia s lighthouses. When Cape Bruny light was lit for the last time on 6 August 1996 and replaced by a solar powered light nearby one of Australia s last remaining staffed light towers was decommissioned.
For an intimate encounter with the coastline of Bruny Island,Bruny Island Cruises coastal tour is highly recommended. The tour commences in Hobart for a full day cruise (8am - 5.30pm) via Kettering and the Bruny Island ferry, and then to Adventure Bay, or it can be joined at Adventure Bay for the 3-hour 50km journey along the coast. Small cruise boats, especially designed for eco-cruising with an open design and excellence in manoeuvrability, take passengers close to sea and coastal wildlife (coastal wildlife such as seals, dolphins, whales, albatross and other seabirds), cliff faces, sea-caves, as well as passing between the narrow gap between the coast and The Monument, a tall and slender sea stack. Sitting at the bottom of Bruny Island s towering sea cliffs, it is not unusual to be surrounded by thousands of seals or watch dolphins surf on the bow wave of the boat.
Take the short trip by bicycle from Hobart to Kettering, then catch the Bruny Island ferry and you are there, ready to explore one of Tasmania s most interesting islands. Cyclists pay a small surcharge to take their bicycle with them on the 15-minute trip and ferries go throughout the day. You need as little as 3 days in total to cycle south from the city to the island, do a bit of exploring and return, although a week would be better to see more and take things at a more relaxed pace.
Located within the South Bruny National Park to the south of Hobart, the Fluted Cape Walk departs from East Cove at the estern end og Adventure Bay and provides walkers with a circuit route offering truly impressive cliff and ocean views. The first half of the walk follows the picturesque coastline from the East Cove car park where Adventure Bay Road leaves the shoreline. The track follows the eastern side of Adventure Bay, until reaching Grass Point, an open grassland area where you can view the structural remains of the whaling industry.
The path climbs steeply towards the summit of Fluted Cape where you can enjoy truly spectacular views towards the distant Tasman Peninsula. The cliffs of Fluted Cape rise to 272 metres - they are the country's second-highest sea cliffs after those on the Tasman Peninsula, across Storm Bay from Bruny Island. Keep an eye out on the track for the famous Adventure Bay white wallabies. The walk is approximately 10.8km's return and walkers should allow at least 5 hours return for this trip.
Unfortunately there are no facilities on the track, however, public toilets are located in the Adventure Bay township area (passed prior to reaching the track start).
North Bruny is drier than the south and is mostly comprised of open pastures and light bushland. It is home to the townships of Dennes Point and Great Bay. The Bruny Island car ferry departs from Roberts Point which is on North Bruny. In contrast to the north, South Bruny is hilly, heavily timbered and includes large rainforest areas. It is home to South Bruny National Park and large areas of State Forest Reserve. The townships of Adventure Bay, Alonnah and Lunawanna are also located on South Bruny. Here, too, the iconic Cape Bruny Lighthouse (1838) that stands on cliffs over 260 metres above the ocean below.
Outside its settlements the island is covered in grazing fields and large tracts of dry eucalyptus forest. Inland forests continue to be logged, but other large sections - mostly along the southeastern coast - are preserved as the South Bruny National Park. While the seaward side of the island features two long beaches - Adventure Bay and Cloudy Bay - the south is for the most part extremely rugged, with cliffs of dolerite that tower over 200 metres above sea level, and which are amongst the highest sea cliffs in Australia. Bruny s channel side is far more sheltered and a favourite fishing and recreational boating area for local and interstate visitors.
One of the natural wonders to be found here is Breathing Rock, a cavern in the rock face near water level that fills with air as the waves wash out and then as the waves washed back up into it, the air is forced back out with a huge spray. Those who travelled the south and south eastern coast of Tasmania by kayak agree that Bruny Island's Breathing Rock is impressive but is small in comparison to the huge Breathing Rock on DeWitt Island in the Maatsuyker Group on the south coast of Tasmania.
The island is home to Australia's southernmost licensed pub, Bruny Island Hotel, and Bruny Island Premium Wines located at Lunawanna is Australia s most southern vineyard. The narrow isthmus joining the two parts of the island is called The Neck. This is home to the Truganini Lookout - a timber stepped boardwalk that takes you to some of the most spectacular 360° panoramic views of the Bruny Island coastline. The sleepy township of Great Bay in the north is home to Bruny Island Cheese Company. The Get Shucked Oyster Farm is also found at Great Bay, just outside the township.