Off the south coast of Tasmania, Bruny Island is home to uncrowded and unspoilt natural beauty, lots of wildlife and some fresh gastronomic delights. It also has a surprising amount of historical significance for a small island. Despite only having a population of about 650, Bruny is becoming increasingly known for the quality of its local produce, from cheese and oysters to whiskey and wine. The food alone is worth the trip.

Bruny Island is generally divided into North Bruny and South Bruny, for quite obvious reasons; only a thin strip of land, known as the ‘Neck’ connects the two.

Getting to Bruny Island

Bruny Island is a place that feels far away from it all without actually being far at all. The car ferry leaves from Kettering, roughly 40 minutes drive from Hobart. The ferry takes about 20 minutes and costs A$38 return.

I got an early flight from Melbourne to Hobart with my girlfriend. We arrived at Hobart airport at 10:30am, picked up our hire car and were enjoying the sights on Bruny Island by 1 o’clock. A lot of car rental companies don’t allow you to take their cars onto Bruny Island, so it’s important to check the fine print. Bargain Car Rentals are one of the few that definitely do and that’s who we decided to go with.

Pennicott Wilderness Journeys have a day tour from Hobart but there is no public transport and driving is by far the best and most convenient way to visit the island.

Bruny Island ferry

Why the name ‘Bruny’?

Bruny was traditionally called Lunawanna-Alonnah by the indigenous Nuenone people. This name is preserved in the placenames of the small townships of Lunawanna and Alonnah, both of which are on the western shore of South Bruny.

Bruny Island gets its modern name from the French explorer and naval officer Antoine Bruni d’Entrecasteaux. He explored this part of Australia in 1793 while leading a voyage in search of a previous expedition party, led by Comte (the French version of Count) de La Pérouse, that had mysteriously disappeared. The ships of the La Pérouse voyage had actually been shipwrecked in the Solomon Islands, but that wasn’t known at the time. La Pérouse and his crew had last been seen by fellow Europeans when they left Botany Bay in March 1788, only 6 weeks after the arrival of the first fleet. According to the State Library of New South Wales, the disappearance caught the popular imagination in France and songs, stories and plays were written about the disappearance and the possible fate of the disappeared.

The primary goal of Bruni d’Entrecasteaux’s voyage was to find out what had happened to La Pérouse and his crew, but he also had a secondary aim. As with the La Pérouse voyage, he was instructed to find out as much as possible about these new lands and the people that inhabited them. In the process of this, he discovered something that the previous explorers who had visited Bruny Island missed, namely that it was an island. At least this was the reason I was given for the name by the friendly man who runs the small but fascinating Bligh Museum in Adventure Bay. The body of water you cross to get to Bruny Island, d’Entrecasteaux Channel, is also named for Antoine Bruni d’Entrecasteaux.

1. Pennicott Wilderness Journeys boat cruise

The highlight of our trip to Bruny Island was the boat trip with Pennicott Wilderness Journeys. The 3 hour trip leaves from Adventure bay and goes south alongside the amazing South Bruny National Park. It was spectacular to see the cliffs, caves and other scenery, as well as seals and lots of different species of birds.

3 hour wilderness cruise (11am to 2pm): A$135 per person 

Pennicott Wilderness Tours, Bruny Island Pennicott Wilderness Tours, Bruny Island Pennicott Wilderness Tours, Bruny Island

Breathing Rock (below) is a kind of blowhole. It fills with air as the waves go out. Subsequent waves then rush into it, forcing the air out with a huge spray.

Breathing rock, Bruny Island

2. Whisky tasting at the Tasmanian House of Whisky

One of the first places you will come across on Bruny Island as it is only 3 kilometres from the ferry terminal. They specialise in whisky tastings and flights. Unfortunately, the tastings are not cheap but they do have a good range of interesting single malt whiskies (I’ll stick with their spelling here, but in Ireland we spell it ‘whiskey’) from around Tasmania. The setting is nice too, with a verandah overlooking the sea and some beautiful views. I didn’t buy any bottles but according to reviews online, the prices for some are more expensive than other places in Tasmania.

Hours: 9:30am – 5:30pm
Flight of four whisky tastings: A$35

Tasmanian House of Whisky

3. Seriously fresh oysters at Get Shucked

The delicious oysters served here are from the bay just across the road so couldn’t be much fresher. You can choose between sitting on the deck or getting your oysters from the drive through. That’s right, drive through oyster sales!

Hours: 9:30am – 5:00pm
A dozen oysters: A$18 (with three sauces on the side A$21)

Get Shucked, Bruny Island

4. Artisanal cheese and craft beer at the combined Bruny Island Cheese Co. & Bruny Island Beer Co.

Perfect for cheese and beer lovers like me. The cheeses from the Bruny Island Cheese Company are so good that tasting some of them a few years before was actually the reason I wanted to visit Bruny in the first place. We shared a cheese platter and a tasting flight of beers. My favourite of their cheeses was a soft cheese called Saint, but they were all full of flavour and delicious. The Whey Stout was my favourite of the beers. The Smokey Tea Tree Ale was interesting; but, as my girlfriend pointed out, interesting is not always what you want from a drink.

Hours: 9:30am – 5:00pm
Cheese platter: A$20
Beer tasting paddle (with 4 beers): A$12

Bruny Island Cheese Co.Bruny Island Cheese Company

5. The stunning and remote-feeling Cape Queen Elizabeth Track

The Cape Queen Elizabeth Track starts in between the Bruny Island Cheese Company and the Neck. It is located here. The track leads to some pristine beaches and a natural rock arch. The sign claims that the return trip takes 3 hours, but it actually only took us 2 hours and 15 minutes, and that included plenty of time to take photos.

Cape Queen Elizabeth Track, Bruny Island Cape Queen Elizabeth Track, Bruny Island Cape Queen Elizabeth Track, Bruny Island Cape Queen Elizabeth Track, Bruny Island

6. The views from The Neck Lookout

The lookout on The Neck, the small strip of land connecting North and South Bruny, provides some of the best views of the island.

The Neck, Bruny IslandBruny Island

The lookout is also a memorial to Truganini, who was sadly one of the last full-blooded Tasmanian Aboriginal people. Her father was an elder of the local Nuenone people of Bruny Island. After European invasion, Truganini’s life became one tragedy after another. According to the Australian Museum “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.” She was then captured and “placed in the custody of Augustus Robinson, a government-backed conciliator who set out to capture all independently living Tasmanian Aborigines” and “she remained for the rest of her life under the supervision of colonial officers.”

Truganini memorial

7. Penguins at the Neck after dark

Right beside the Neck Lookout is also the place to see fairy penguins after the sun goes down. There are no lights though, so it is best to bring a dim torch and cover it with red cellophane because penguins are less sensitive to red light. It is also important to wear dark colours, stay quiet and still, and not use camera flashes or any white lights. Penguins can become easily lost and confused by light and noise. Peak viewing times are from September to February, but the penguins can still be seen at other times.

Bruny Island penguins

 8. Fudge from the Bruny Island Chocolate Company

This place doesn’t have a whole lot going on but it is worth a quick stop to pick up some of their amazing fudge, which comes in a range of flavours. The dark chocolate fudge was very tasty.

Hours: 10am – 5:00pm
Bag of fudge off-cuts: A$6 

Bruny Island Chocolate Company

9. The Bruny Island Berry Farm

The Bruny Island Berry Farm has a small cafe with a big range of berry-based sweet treats including berry coulis, berry muffins, berry cakes, fresh berries with ice cream and fresh berries with pancakes. They grow 7 different types of berries on the farm but what’s available varies depending on the season. It’s also possible to pick your own berries.

Hours: 10am – 5:00pm
Fresh berries & ice cream: A$8.50 

Bruny Island Berry Farm

10. The Bligh Museum of Pacific Exploration

The small Bligh Museum in Adventure Bay is well worth the minimal entrance fee. It is a must for anyone with an interest in Australian history. It has a great collection of historical maps, coins and documents relating to famous explorers who have passed through the area, including some of the best known in modern Australia. Abel Tasman, James Cook, William Bligh, Antoine Bruni D’Entrecasteaux and Matthew Flinders were just some of those who visited Adventure Bay.

Hours: 10am – 4:00pm
Entrance fee: A$4 

Bligh Museum, Adventure Bay

11. Rare white wallabies in Adventure Bay

Having seen photos of the white wallabies before we got to Bruny, we were very keen to find one. We asked some locals about the best place to see them and the answer was unanimous: drive up Lockley’s Road and keep an eye out. We found one alongside about 6 brown wallabies. The white wallabies are actually albino; the result of a genetic mutation. It is thought that the lack of predators on Bruny Island means that they survive better than they would elsewhere and there are an estimated 200 albino wallabies on Bruny altogether.

White wallaby on Bruny Island White wallaby on Bruny Island

12. Wine tasting at Australia’s southernmost vineyard

Bruny Island Premium Wines, south of Alonnah, is set on top of a hill with a nice panoramic view over the vineyard. The tasting also included some of their ciders. The food has a very good reputation but the kitchen was closed when we visited.

Hours: 10am – 4:00pm
Wine tasting: A$5 per person

Bruny Island Premium Wines

13. The views of and from the Bruny Island Lighthouse

Built in 1836 by convict labour, Bruny Island Lighthouse was Australia’s longest continually staffed lighthouse. It was used up until 1996 when it was replaced by a solar-powered tower. The lighthouse is located in the beautiful South Bruny National Park. The road to the lighthouse is unpaved, although it didn’t cause any major trouble for our hire car.

National Park entrance fee: A$24
Lighthouse tour: A$10
Lighthouse tour hours: 10am – 3:30pm

Bruny Island Lighthouse Bruny Island Lighthouse

We also saw an echidna on our walk up to the lighthouse!

Echidna at Bruny Island Lighthouse

14. Bruny’s deserted beaches

Not having to share Bruny’s natural beauty with too many other people is one of the best things about it. Nowhere is this more apparent than walking across beautiful sweeping beaches that are deserted other than the odd seabird.

Bruny Island beach Bruny Island beach

15. Dinner at Australia’s southernmost pub

Hotel Bruny is one of the best (and one of the only) places to eat dinner in south Bruny. It has friendly staff, decent service and good food. Beware though that the kitchen often closes quite early. It was closed when we went at 8:30pm on a Saturday night, but luckily the staff were very accomodating and made us a few pizzas.

Hotel Bruny offers limited motel-style accomodation.

Hotel Bruny

They also serve the Bruny Island Beer Company’s Whey Stout.

Whey Stout at Hotel Bruny

Where to stay

There are quite a few places to stay on Bruny Island, but most are quite expensive. We stayed in one of the caravans at the Captain Cook Holiday Park, one of the cheaper options and a very convenient place to stay if you intend to go on the boat tour from Adventure Bay.

Make sure to book in advance as Bruny is a small island and accomodation can fill up quickly. If this post has helped you plan your trip, then booking through this affiliate link gives me a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only ever recommend sites I use myself.

Some things to be aware of

Opening hours can be very short
I have tried to list the opening hours where applicable as they can be limited and many places close quite early. With a little bit of planning it shouldn’t affect your visit too much, but it is definitely something to consider.

Wallabies are everywhere at night
Driving on Bruny Island after dark almost guarantees you will see a lot of wildlife, mainly wallabies, often crossing the road in front of you at speed. While it can be nice to see them, you will need to drive cautiously to avoid any harm coming to both them and you. They can leap out in front of cars very suddenly.

The last ferry leaves Bruny Island at 7:15pm
Make sure to check the ferry timetable, especially on the day you are leaving.