[Australia] Tasmania Road Trip Part 5 – Bruny Island

4 days in Bruny Island, the last stretch of our 3 week campervan lap around Tasmania. This was my second time to Bruny Island but the first time staying on the island. We made the most of our last days in the campervan by camping out at unpowered campsites for the next 3 nights and heading to some of the most remote corners of Bruny Island where our little van could still manage. Lots of fun and amazing nature in Bruny Island!

With the little mishap at Lake St Clair, we had to shift our initial plans slightly. After wrapping our adventures down south on the Tasmania mainland, we made a detour back to Hobart to get the rear window replaced before heading to Bruny Island. The repairs went smoothly and while that was going on, we checked out the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens. Pretty cool and interesting place and it did help us take our mind off the potential cost of the rear window replacement. We picked up the van about 3 hours later and it was good as new. On the way to Kettering, we did a major restock at Woolies as we weren’t sure if there would be supplies on Bruny. And we were all set to spend the next 4 days on Bruny Island! Check out the video summary here:

Bruny Island 3-4 Day Itinerary

  • Day 1 (half day)
    • Get Shucked
    • Bruny Island Honey
    • Truganini Lookout
    • Mabel Bay Lookout
    • Cape Bruny Lookout
    • Jetty Beach campsite
    • Jetty Beach
  • Day 2
    • Labillardiere Peninsula
    • Cape Bruny Lighthouse
    • Inala Jurassic Garden
    • Hotel Bruny
    • Neck Reserve campsite
    • Neck Beach
    • Short-tailed shearwaters and little penguins viewing
  • Day 3
    • Two Tree Point
    • Adventure Bay
    • Bruny Island Cruises
    • Fluted Cape Walk
    • The Pines Campsite
    • Cloudy Bay
  • Day 4 (half day)
    • Cloudy Bay
    • Bruny Island History Room
    • Bruny Island Cheese Company
    • Get Shucked Round 2
    • Bruny Island Quarantine Station

Bruny Island Day 1

Day 1 was a short day for us at Bruny Island. It was around 1 by the time we arrived at Kettering and about 3 that we reached Bruny. We made a few stops in north Bruny before continuing all the way down south for our campsite for the night.

Bruny Island Ferry

There was a pretty long queue when we arrived at Kettering that took about an hour to clear. If you have a tight schedule a potential queue might be something to factor in. Thankfully everything was very orderly and staff were stationed throughout to ensure everyone gets to the right place. The ferries run fairly frequently throughout the day (6am to 7pm) with reduced services on days such as Christmas.

Fares paid at Kettering are for the return trip and fares are applied on vehicles only. The number of passengers do not affect the fare. Vehicle sizes do affect the fare though. If you’re driving a campervan like ours (Toyota Hiace) or smaller, it should fit under the smallest vehicle tier excluding bikes (under 6m). There may also be saver fares available for the earliest and latest ferries of the day. More details on Bruny Island Ferry fares here and Bruny Island Ferry timetables here.

Get Shucked

First order of business, the freshest, juiciest oysters at Get Shucked! We read on Google that they run out of oysters on some days and were not very hopeful since we had arrived late and it was during the peak season. We decided to try our luck at the drive thru and were excited when we found out they still available! Went with a dozen freshly shucked oysters and enjoyed them from the comfort of our van. As long as you don’t hate or can’t take oysters, I think this is a must do in Bruny Island. As of 2023 they are $26 per dozen.

Bruny Island Honey

Another 5 minutes down the road is Bruny Island Honey. It was near closing time but we managed to have a look and try out some of the different honeys available. I think the range was not as extensive as the range at Melita Honey Farm but quality at both are great. There was also a cool display at Bruny Island Honey where you can see live bees up close in their hive, with an opening outside the building so the bees can enter and exit freely. I got a large jar of Manuka honey and a couple of small jars of honeys from different native plants at Bruny Island Honey.

The Neck/ Truganini Lookout

North and South Bruny are joined by a narrow strip of land known as The Neck. On the northern end of the Neck, there is a lookout on top of a hill (accessible from the carpark via a long flight of stairs) with a spectacular 360 degree view of Bruny Island. There is a monument at the lookout dedicated to Truganini, an Aboriginal woman from Bruny Island who witness and experienced the horrors of European colonisation of Tasmania.

As the road through the Neck is the only way in and out of the rest of Bruny Island (South Bruny), the lookout is a great way to start and end adventures to Bruny Island. The great thing about being on a self-drive itinerary versus being on a tour like I was on my first visit to Bruny is having all the time we wanted at each of these spots. In the end we still had to make a move too as the sun was about to set.

Mabel Bay Lookout

We then drove all the way down to the south eastern corner of Bruny Island. Along the way we stopped at Mabel Bay Lookout. It was a nice spot to take a break with some benches there but views weren’t as good as the trees were tall here and obscured the coastal views. Mabel Bay Lookout is also approximately where South Bruny National Park begins (on the western arm) up till Cape Bruny and Labillardiere Peninsula, so a valid Tasmania parks pass is required beyond this.

Cape Bruny Lookout

Just 2km down the road from Mabel Bay Lookout is Cape Bruny Lookout. Here the weren’t benches available (just a sandy stretch of road to stop) but views were better as there were fewer trees in view.

Jetty Beach campsite

The last part of the drive to Jetty Beach was unpaved, rough and looked deserted so we proceeded very cautiously. Just when it looked like there couldn’t be anyone else around, we arrived at a small clearing in the forest that was the Jetty Beach campsite. The campsite was pretty full that day but we were fortunate to find a spot. Made our payment at the self-registration booth and set up for the night.

  • Cost: AUD$10 per vehicle per night for 2 persons. $5 for each additional adult (18+) or $2.50 for each additional child (5-17). $15 for 1 vehicle with 2 adults and 3 children. Valid parks pass required.
  • Reservations: No reservations taken
  • Payment: Register and pay at self-registration booth on-site. Cash and card accepted
  • Amenities: Toilets (no running water) and picnic benches.
  • Surface and layout: Unpaved, no clear lot demarcation

Jetty Beach

Jetty Beach campsite is situated next to Jetty Beach. The beach is partially obscured by vegetation which hides the sea view but also provides shelter from the elements. We walked down to the beach after dinner. It was not a very large beach, but very calm and serene. Waves were gentle and there were yachts anchored in the bay slightly off shore. It was a great way to end the somewhat hectic day.

Bruny Island Day 2

On this first full day on Bruny Island, we checked out a couple of sights and attractions along the western side of South Bruny before ending up back at the Neck for the night.

Labillardiere Peninsula Walk

Jetty Beach campsite is also where the Labillardiere Peninsula Walk begins. The Labillardiere Peninsula Walk is one of the 60 Great Short Walks in Tasmania. The route traces around the Labillardiere Peninsula. Itcrosses a range of landscapes ranging from coastal cliffs, open grassland, coastal forests and a short stretch on a beach. The full loop (18km) would probably take a full day for us, so we opted to do the shorter 4.5km loop, starting and ending at Jetty Beach campsite.

There’s a logbook available at the start of the walk. Given the length of the walk and the exposed terrain relative to how wild weather can get there, it’s a good idea to leave your names before embarking on the walk.

From the start of the trail, the forest landscape that surrounds Jetty Beach campsite quickly gave way to more open views and soon we could see the sea and the Tasmanian mainland across it. There were some pretty plants and flowers that covered the landscape, reminiscent of our encounters on the Three Cape Track. After crossing some fields and forests we found ourselves at a secluded beach, one of the few small bays along the way leading back to Jetty Beach. Pretty manageable and comfortable morning walk (on the small loop).

Cape Bruny Lighthouse

Next stop, Cape Bruny Lighthouse. Getting there was a little tricky in peak season as the carpark was really small. There was a queue of cars waiting to enter and parking had overflowed to the road outside. Fortunately, we were relatively early as the queues got longer over the hour we were there. On the drive in, this was probably the furthest down south we’ve reached or driven on this trip, and likely the furthest down south on earth we’ll ever be for quite some time.

Near the carpark there is a free small museum with some information on the lighthouse. From the carpark there is long uphill path to get up to the lighthouse, but the walk is worth it. Cape Bruny Lighthouse was built in 1836 and is the only southern Tasmanian lighthouse open for tours. We didn’t go for a tour though, as the sweeping coastal views were sufficient for us.

On the way out we stopped once more at Cape Bruny Lookout and Mabel Bay Lookout to admire the views in a different weather.

Inala Jurassic Garden

On the way back to the Neck, we made a slight detour to Inala Jurassic Garden. Inala Jurassic Garden is a privately run nature reserve and botanic garden. It is curated and managed by Dr Tonia Cochran to demonstrate the Gondwana story through living plants. The gardens were a fascinating take on the topic. There is also a museum on site that has a rich collection of shells and fossils, in line with the theme of the Jurassic garden. Entry: AUD$10 per adult

Hotel Bruny

We stopped at Hotel Bruny for a break but found it too crowded and ended up taking a short walk on the beach in front of it. It was pretty crowded there too so we didn’t stay for long.

Neck Reserve campsite

We arrived at The Neck c​ampsite early in the afternoon to rest for a couple of hours before heading to the other end of the Neck for our final penguin viewing of the trip. The Neck campsite was the largest and also the most crowded campsite of the 3 we visited in Bruny Island. Despite having arrived early, we had trouble finding an empty spot. Some vehicles were parked while other lots were “reserved” with field chairs and tables. There were noticeably more kids here too so we were extra careful from our high seat in the van.

Nonetheless, we managed to find a relatively level gap to squeeze our van in. Setting the van up for a lazy afternoon eating under the trees had almost become routine by then. We had lunch and a short nap. Details for the Neck campsite are similar as that for Jetty Beach. Road conditions are the similar too (unpaved and unlevelled).

Neck Beach

The Neck Beach connects the campsite on the southern end of the Neck to Truganini Lookout on the northern end. As we were not keen on taking our van out of the precious lot, we decided to walk down the beach to the lookout, where penguins and shearwaters return to nest daily at dusk. The plan was to walk back on the road to get back to the campsite after that, as walking on the beach is not allowed after dark due to the wildlife activity. The walk was beautiful, as waves gently lapped onto the wide beach, against the backdrop of tall sand dunes. We slightly underestimated the distance though, and had to pick up pace to make sure we were off the beach well before dusk.

Truganini Lookout round 2

As there was some time between the sun starting to set and the birds starting to return home, we went back up Truganini Lookout to enjoy the evening views.

Viewing short-tailed shearwaters and little penguins

As darkness approached we went back down and on to the viewing platform next to the beach. The short-tailed shearwaters were first to come in. At first just a handful, but in minutes, there were probably hundreds of them circling and darting all over the sky just over the viewing platform area. It was a fascinating sight. When the auspicious hour arrived, they finally landed back in their nests and called it a day. The penguins however, were less forthcoming. Apparently tourism had cause penguin numbers at the Neck to decline, and the Neck was where we saw the least penguins of the places in Tasmania we had visited to see penguins (Lilico and Stanley). We managed to spot a grand total of 2 that day. Hope the rest are fine, and that more can be done to ensure the colony recovers. It was a great night out.

After that we began our precarious walk back to the campsite. It was probably not a good idea on hindsight, as there were no streetlights and cars were going by quickly. We tried to remain visible by holding out our camping lamp. We were extremely relieved to finally see sign for the Neck Campsite, though it was also a little tricky finding our van in the dark. Did it in the end and had a great night’s rest.

Bruny Island Day 3

Day 3 was all about Adventure Bay and the Bruny Island Cruise!

Two Tree Point

It was another rainy morning as we drove back down south Bruny, this time on the eastern side of south Bruny. Our first stop along Adventure Bay was at Two Tree Point. This is a historic landmark of 2 trees at the mouth of Resolution Creek. European explorers in the 18th century stopped by this spot to refill their freshwater supplies, and paintings made in 1792 of this spot depict the 2 trees still standing at this point. It was as though time had stopped here.

Adventure Bay

We then stopped by the small town of Adventure Bay for a look. With only one major store and a long stretch of beach, Adventure Bay didn’t look like much at first, but as we explored and read notice boards there appears to be quite a bit of community activity going on, the sort of small community activities that I wish I could have more of back home.

Bruny Island Cruises

Next it was time for our 3 hour wilderness cruise trip with Pennicott Wilderness Journeys. Pennicott Wilderness Journeys runs various renowned wilderness cruise itineraries along the east coast of Tasmania. We had a little taster at the start of the Three Capes Track, as Pennicott Wilderness Journeys runs the first part of the Three Capes Track experience, a fast cruise ride in the vicinity of Port Arthur en route to the starting point at Denmans Cove. We were looking forward to a full itinerary on the Bruny Island Cruise, with promises of isolated, rugged landscapes and wildlife sightings far from civilisation.

A detailed email from Pennicott Wilderness Journeys provided all the information required about getting there and what to bring to make the most of the cruise. The Bruny Island Cruise visitor center is a short 3km drive from the Adventure Bay General Store. We were provided with heavy-duty waterproof overalls to keep dry, which set the stage for a rough ride. The boats were powerful and count accelerate very quickly and execute sharp turns. However, the first part was nice and comfortable as we sailed out of Adventure Bay.

Dolerite Cliffs and Coastal Formations

We stopped at many rock formations and points of interest along the way, where the guides would let us know that it was safe to stand and take pictures as they shared humorous stories and scientific bits about all the amazing sights in front of us. One of the first highlights was when the boat dove straight between narrow, towering pillars of rock at speed. It happened so quickly and suddenly it caught many of us off guard to fully appreciate the awesome moment we had just experienced. The crew brought us on a second round through the gap, and while it was still magical something was missing now that we were expecting it. Right after the gap are towering dolerite sea cliffs, among the tallest in the southern hemisphere.

After that there were plenty more cliffs, rocks, caves, cormorants and seagulls as we traversed the coast to the remote ends of Bruny Island. There was also a really cool blowhole where we could see seawater getting sucked in and then blown out in a huge puff. Didn’t catch many pictures of these amazing sights but most of them were caught on video and added to my Bruny Island video above.

Wildlife sightings on the Bruny Island Cruise

In the second half of the cruise the cruise parted from the shore towards the open seas where waves were increasingly rougher. We saw a bunch of rocky outcrops in the distance but I didn’t think much of them, until we approached the small islands and realised there were seals all along the water’s edge. Most were basking in the sun or hobbling about the rocks. We had seen a handful of seals on the last day of the Three Capes Track but this was the first time seeing so many wild seals (must have been hundreds) and being able to get so up close to them in their natural habitat. There was an incredible sense of awe just being able to witness that sight. There were colonies of different seal species at different spots, and we visited a couple of them.

Just when we thought we were done and were to start on our way back to Adventure Bay, a huge pod of dolphins appeared and had us all excited again. This pod was way larger than the pod we encountered on the Port Arthur cruise, and appeared more active. Many were leaping high in the air and swimming close to the boats. It was an exhilarating sight from the boat watching dolphins swim alongside it in the open ocean. Unfortunately, again no pictures of these amazing sights but most of it in the video.

Concluding the Bruny Island Cruise

The boats and dolphins hung around for awhile and it was finally time for us to return to Adventure Bay. Although we did not see some of the other occasionally observed animals such as the whales, it was a very memorable trip that we enjoyed very much. This tour may not be so suitable for those with severe sea-sickness, as the boat is small and seas are rough further out in the ocean. Back on shore, we got out of the raincoats and hid in the comfort of our van for a quick and convenient lunch of canned fish and vegetable wrap.

Fluted Cape Walk

There was one last thing for us to do at Adventure Bay that day, the Fluted Cape Walk. The Fluted Cap Walk, a 4km, 2.5 hour long walk is also one of Tasmania’s 60 Great Short Walks. Terrain is noticeable more difficult and potentially dangerous compared to the Labillardiere Peninsula Walk. There is a steep uphill climb and the trail goes along the cliffs’ edge at points. All that makes for more spectacular views! The Fluted Cape Walk is within the eastern end of South Bruny National Park and a valid parks pass is required too.

Start of Fluted Cape Walk

The walk started near the Bruny Island Cruise visitor center. The initial part of the Fluted Cape Walk overlaps with the Grass Point Walk, as Grass Point is also along the way. We first crossed a section of beach and passed a cool looking house with a stuffed koala stuffed up a eucalyptus tree. From there the was a right turn as the trail followed the coastline and into the forests. The incline on the initial parts were nice and easy. Whaling was once a common activity in this area and there were some signs of activities from those days. Things are quieter these days, fortunately.

Grass Point and Penguin Island

We then arrived at Grass Point and Penguin Island. There used to be some whaling buildings where Grass Point is today. The view is nice but the main draw is the historical context of this place. Next to Grass Point is Penguin Island. I’m not sure if there are penguins here, but we did spot other birds.

From Grass Point, the trail climbed at a much greater incline over increasingly rough terrain as we started our approach towards Fluted Cape. The trail was not very clear at some parts and I think we strayed a little too near the edge for comfort at some points. We spotted a pademelon (or was it a wallaby?) here. It hopped away as soon as it spotted us.

Fluted Cape

Finally, the trail levelled out as we approached the top of Fluted Cape. Looking down, it was a straight drop all the way down to the trees and rocks at the foot of the cliffs. We could see the whole of Penguin Island, where we were next to just moments ago. Looking straight ahead, we could see all the way to the Neck and beyond. Thankfully, the weather was nice and calm that afternoon, else being at the top of these sea cliffs would not have been enjoyable.

We took awhile to enjoy the amazing views before starting the descent through the forests to get back to the starting point in a loop.

The sun was starting to set as we arrived back at the van. Time to be on our way to our final campsite on Bruny Island, near Cloudy Bay.

The Pines Campsite

Our final campsite on Bruny Island and of our 3 week long campervan trip in Tasmania was at The Pines campsite near Cloudy Bay. The Pines campsite is a small clearing in the forest within a couple minutes walk of Cloudy Bay. There is another larger campsite at Cloudy Bay, Cloudy Corner campsite. However this campsite requires driving 3km across the beach at low tide. That wasn’t a challenge we were up for and we were happy to stick with The Pines campsite. This is located in a far flung corner or South Bruny National Park. I’d imagine Cloudy Corner’s more far flung, but even at The Pines the crowd wasn’t the typical tourist crowd that we encountered at Jetty Beach or the Neck.

This campsite was the most rugged of the 3 we stayed in Bruny, probably a mix of being so far out and also because there are no fees charged for using this campsite. There wasn’t much level ground and we took awhile to get the van level, but other than that everything else was fine. There was a small drop/pit toilet which was sufficient most of the time. The Pines campsite is the only campsite on Bruny Island managed by Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service that is free. The remoteness and proximity to Cloudy Bay was perfect.

Cloudy Bay

Stepping out of The Pines campsite, I went for a walk on the deserted dirt road towards Cloudy Bay. Within minutes I arrived at Cloudy Bay, a huge and remote looking beach and bay stretching across the horizon. With no man made structure in sight for as far as I could see, this could have passed off as the boundaries of civilisation. It’s hard finding the words that would accurately capture my awe as I walked up to a viewing point that capture the rawness and expansiveness of the landscape. I stood there as the sun slowly set, adding dramatic colours to the already dramatic landscape. Huge flocks of birds frolicked by the edge of the water. I wonder if they thought the view was beautiful too, or was it something that had became second nature to them that they could not imagine any sight less beautiful than this.

This long stretch of beach was also the beach that had to be driven across in low tide to get to Cloudy Bay. We did see a couple of rugged 4wd making the journey across, hauling caravans with them, and can’t imagine having to try the same.

Bruny Island Day 4

Our last day on Bruny Island and of our campervan adventure. We checked out a couple of attractions on the way up north Bruny before crossing back over to Kettering by ferry, stopping by Margate, then back to Mornington to clean up the van before returning it.

Cloudy Bay

With that unforgettable sight at Cloudy Bay and the relatively subdued view at The Pines campsite, we drove back down to Cloudy Bay the next morning for a breakfast with a view. It was probably the best breakfast view yet. Clearly, there were others with similar ideas. From Cloudy Bay there were a few possible trails but we decided that time might be a little tight for those. And so from Cloudy Bay, we had to return to civilisation.

Bruny Island History Room

Along the way, we popped by Alonnah to check out the Bruny Island History Room. We were actually too early for the opening hours but a kind lady opened the place for us. Bruny Island History Room is a collection of resources on the history of Bruny Island. There was so much information available there, we could barely scratch the surface with our short visit. Nonetheless, we enjoyed the quick look around and were amazed by the extensive collection.

Bruny Island Cheese Company

After the Neck, we made a short stop at Bruny Island Honey to get a few more souvenirs, then continued to Bruny Island Cheese Company. Bruny Island Cheese Company is an interesting place that produces its own milk, cheese, alcoholic products and baked goods. We sampled some of the cheese available and thought these cheese were interesting, but had even more interesting names. It was cool seeing cheese being produced in the room next to where we had our samples and could see the finished product.

Get Shucked Round 2

We couldn’t pass up the chance for another round of oysters and got another dozen freshly shucked oysters. As it was earlier in the day we could see the crowd this time, especially at the indoor seating area. We had to wait just a little bit longer this time but soon had the fresh juicy oysters secured. We kept them till the next stop and tried to make it last as long as possible. All good things have to come to an end and so did the final oyster.

Bruny Island Quarantine Station

Last stop on Bruny Island, Bruny Island Quarantine Station. Given its isolated position, Bruny Island was found to be an ideal spot as a quarantine station. It was developed in the mid 19th century to prevent the spread of contagious diseases and witness many important events in Tasmania’s history. Only a few buildings remain standing but they do provide an eye-opening perspective on how contagious diseases were viewed and managed in the past, a timely comparison with how countries were managing the covid crisis in 2020.

Back on the ferry to Kettering

Finally, it was time for us to leave. We drove back to the boat ramp at Roberts Point to take the car ferry back to Kettering on mainland Tasmania. It was a great adventure getting up close with nature while still enjoying the comforts of the campervan. We didn’t see any white wallabies this time, but that’s a great reason to come back again some day!

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