A guide to Bruny Island

By Tim Dub 14 June 2021
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Bruny is a wildlife and coastal paradise.

BUFFETED BY south-easterly winds, I trudged up the wooden steps to Big Hummock lookout on Bruny Island Neck, the 5km isthmus of dunes connecting north and south Bruny Island. I lost count of the steps after 87, distracted by tracks and burrows – signs of a nesting colony shared by little penguins and short-tailed shearwaters – in the sand on either side. 

I turned and looked across Neck Beach, a sweeping 10km crescent of magnificent white sand, constantly cleansed and replenished by the relentless pounding of breakers. Bruny Island is 20 minutes by ferry from Kettering, an easy 30km drive south from Hobart. On a fine day, crowds of daytrippers leave little doubt that Bruny has been ‘discovered’. Another sign of its increasing popularity is rising property prices and the appearance of shiny new holiday homes. But for generations, Bruny’s shack owners have been an important component of the island’s social mix, many arriving from the mainland for weekends and school holidays.

I saw the 24km crescent of Adventure Bay while on a cruise down Bruny’s east coast with Rob Pennicott, one of several operators conducting tours around the island. At the southern end of the bay, spectacular, weather-polished dolerite cliffs recede in diminishing semicircles into the deep blue of the sky. At Fluted Cape, they rise to 272m, the country’s second-highest sea cliffs.

From here, it’s a 20-minute drive up a narrow, winding dirt road to a walking track that leads to the top of Bruny’s highest mountain, 571m Mt Mangana, part of a range that runs north–south for almost the entire length of south Bruny. 

Rainforest trees on the upper slopes give way to more common white and blue gums nearer the mountain’s base. Beyond that are the deep-green paddocks of small farms extending to the wetlands around Cloudy Bay Lagoon. Further on lies the V-shaped headland of Cape Bruny, with its historic lighthouse.

Just before Cape Bruny, a sign points to the Peninsula Walking Track, a six-hour circuit of the Labillardiere Peninsula. The walk is noted for its views and its snakes – tiger, copperhead and white-lipped. 

At least 45 threatened animal and plant species have been recorded on the island. Dennes Hill Nature Reserve on North Bruny was established to protect the largest known breeding colony of the rare and endangered
forty-spotted pardalote. The pardalote is one of 12 bird species found exclusively in Tassie; all of them have been recorded on Bruny. 

The island’s full wildlife list contains at least 140 bird species: the live-bearing seastar; the spotted hand fish, a bizarre fish that ‘walks’ on its fins; the southern elephant seal; and the masked owl. The whole island is a treasure house of species, many of which exist nowhere else.

Explore Bruny…

By foot

Bruny Island has some amazing walking tracks that take you up close to the island’s stunning landscapes and local wildlife. These include the 14km Labillardiere Peninsula walk with stunning views of the Southern Ranges. If you are short of time there’s the 15-minute scenic walk to Truganini Lookout at The Neck (above) and accessible via a boardwalk, or the Cape Queen Elizabeth three-hour return walk that starts just north of the Bruny Island airstrip. For more ideas for a daytrip to the island visit:

Visit Brilliant Travels.

By car

Bruny Island is the perfect destination if you’re looking to pack up the car, caravan or 4WD. Make sure your road trip includes Australia’s second-oldest lighthouse at Cape Bruny (right). The heritage-listed 1836 lighthouse (first lit in 1838) towers 114m above dramatic cliff tops, providing eagle-eye views of the breathtaking coastline. Explore lush inland rainforests, relax on picturesque beaches and spot abundant birdlife. You’ll have the chance to sample produce made with care by the local community. To book a short break, visit:

Visit Brilliant Travels.