Bruny Island, is as close to the most southern point of Australia, as you can get, without stepping onto the Antarctic. Almost two islands but for a narrow strip of land known as The Neck, North and South Bruny are unique habitats. Much of South Bruny is Heritage listed or National Park and home to the only wild, White Wallabies on the planet. The south is rugged and weather beaten. The southern coastline is sheer cliffs with spectacular drops to the Southern Ocean. The north, though more sheltered, is still exposed to some wild weather. Travelling to Bruny is invariably done by a trip on the island's ferry. Rain hail or shine this boat sails with collection of visitors and island residents. Catering for caravans, truck and campers it is a well used service. Arriving on North Bruny, the road south passes by many of Bruny's gourmet food establishments. The Bruny Island Cheese makers and BISH (the Bruny Island Smoke House). There are also Chocolatiers, Oyster farmers and wine makers here. From the gourmet offerings in the north, many then head for Nature's attractions in the south. Heading across The Neck, the Truganni lookout and Fairy Penguin rockery, offers spectacular views north and south and offers a great insight to how Bruny's weather plays such a major part in shaping its eco system. One side sits in relative calm whilst waters and winds can be tearing the other side apart. Sat high above them both, exposed to those same elements it adds another dimension to the scene.
Across The Neck, Adventure Bay offers the opportunity to visit the South Bruny National Park, by boat or on foot. The famous yellow boats operate from here, providing a chance to see the rugged coastal scenery and gain a comprehensive education about the geology, flora, fauna and history of this remarkable coastline. Additionally, you get to experience first hand, the formidable Southern Ocean.
Views along the coast vary from towering cliffs to vast caves to wave ravaged rocky outcrops that provide rest stops for the incredibly tough Australian Fur Seal that resides in these chilly but nutrient rich waters. The food chain runs from plankton to Whales.
Also found in these waters are Whales, Dolphins, Abalone, Oysters and a spectacular variety of fish from sardines to tuna. Around the cliffs are vast kelp forests that provide sanctuary for many smaller marine animals.
Above, in the forests of the National Park, lives the White Wallaby, the only place in Australia where it can be found. I am guessing unlike me, they chose the smart option to stay indoors that day, as it rained relentlessly. Two walks offer access to the Grassy Point or the Fluted Walk a challenging climb to the peak. Both take in the magnificent gum forests and button grass carpets that lie beneath.
A contrast to the forest of the South Bruny National Park, is the Coolangatta track up through the luscious Mangana Rain Forest. Mt Mangana rises to 571m and the track offers some breathtaking views north as you near the crest. Dropping down the other side of Mt Mangana, a choice of destinations lie before you; Cloudy Bay, Cape Bruny National Park or Alonah.
Cloudy Bay is an exposed and majestic seascape, with heavy rolling seas and surf breaking over black ragged rocks, before arriving on a sandy beach. Above the surf, hangs a cloud of spray, whipped off the wave tops, by the winds of the Roaring Forties. Cape Bruny which skirts its northern side provides further views over the bay whilst leading out to the Cape Bruny Lighthouse built in 1836, now superseded by an unmanned lighthouse at a point further south. The lighthouse sits above a field of weather beaten shrubs, that somehow survive the howling and often bone chilling winds off the Southern Ocean. In turn these lead to precipitous cliffs overlooking the D'Entrecastreaux Channel on the northern side. It would have been a hardy soul that looked after this lighthouse.
Heading back north, there is the opportunity to wet your whistle, and fill your stomach at the Alonah Hotel, or alternatively just dry out and get out of the wind, or both. Meals for the hungry and the discerning are both available. There is also the chance for a more gentle walk along the beach in front, prior to the trip north and the return ferry to Tasmania.
Tours are available to Bruny Island via the usual channels, or you can self drive. Either way it is well worth the effort. Be prepared for all four seasons in a day and as the locals will tell you, take off your watch and throw away your mobile phone; you wont need either here.
For more images of Bruny Island: click here
© Robert Oates | BALLANTYNE Photography