Take a walk around beguiling Bruny

By Cathy Finch 20 December 2021
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Forest bathing is a thing, and there’s nowhere better to indulge than Bruny Island.

Humans have been seeking out the healing powers of the forest for thousands of years. The Japanese even have a name for it – shinrin-yoku. “Shinrin” means forest, “yoku” means bath. Mix this with the therapeutic qualities of seawater, and you can skip the trip to the doctor, and instead, head for a long weekend to Bruny Island, off Tasmania’s southeast coast.

I recently spent a long weekend exploring the island with guide Sam Barnett. He meets my small group in Hobart for our private boat transfer to Bruny. The air is fresh, cool and crisp as we throw the ropes and sail from the harbour, making our way along the Derwent River, stopping briefly to admire the surrounding craggy cliffs before arriving at Dennes Point, North Bruny.  

Bruny Island is approximately 50km long and appears to be two islands, with North and South Bruny joined by a narrow strip of land called The Neck. This morning we make our way to the trail head of the Cape Queen Elizabeth coastline where we’re met by sprawling views over Moorina Bay. Waves crash against jagged walls of dolerite; birds soar freely and golden sea grasses glow on the dunes, giving the scene both tranquillity and drama.    

It’s low tide, so we begin our walk along the sweeping shoreline, exploring natural rock formations at Mars Bluff and The Arch, turning inland to scramble through low forest heath, dunes of bracken fern, and a white gum forest, home to one of Australia’s rarest birds, the forty-spotted pardalote. We pass through a muttonbird (short-tailed shearwater) rookery and arrive at a perfect vista to admire Cape Queen Elizabeth. It’s a 14km return walk – smelling the eucalypts, brushing past wildflowers, watching the shifting patterns of light and sea spray, and even stopping for a dip (not unlike an ice bath) on the way home.

Before making our way to camp, Sam takes us to the Great Bay area where we stop at an oyster farm to gather a fresh catch, sitting beside the ocean to drizzle lemon juice and shuck the plumpest, freshest of fare.    

Camp is nestled within a secluded forest at the base of Mount Mangana, on 100 acres of private land, entirely off the grid, but managing to deliver all creature comforts. I take a giant leap onto my king-sized bed, drinking in the view of towering eucalypts and listening to the little pademelons munching grass outside my window. All I need now is to take a hot shower with a wide-open forest view, and nestle down on the wooden deck with a nice glass of Tassie red. I’m forest bathing. I couldn’t be happier.  

Day two dawns and Simon, our camp host, has the morning fire crackling and the smell of coffee drawing me from under my doona. Last night we enjoyed the rumbles of thunder and a brief hailstorm before dinner, but this morning we’ve woken to a perfect day, excited for our 14km walk to East Cloudy Head. 

Yet another expansive horizon draws us close, where eagles soar, plump pacific gulls lay eggs, hooded plovers breed and seagulls dip and glide. The first 3km of our walk is along Cloudy Bay beach, a pristine and lonely stretch of sand within South Bruny National Park. Continuing onto the East Cloudy Head walking track, we meander through coastal heathland and impressive sprays of wildflowers, viewing the powerful Southern Ocean – next stop Antarctica. While the ocean is calm and inviting on the way there, the wind has now whipped up a change of mood.  Nature is putting on some theatre.    

Before leaving on day three we have one last hike to do through moss and ancient Gondwanan rainforest to reach the summit of Mount Mangana, Bruny Island’s highest peak at 571m. 

Bruny Island has lived up to its reputation of being the best of all of Tasmania, rolled into one. Rugged coastlines, beautiful beaches, lush rainforest, rolling green hills, sheep grazing and a haven for birds and wildlife.       

There’s no disputing – spending time in nature is good for us. 

For more on Bruny Island’s spectacular walking/forest bathing visit Tasmanian Walking Company and discover more about the many adventures to be had in Tasmania here.