Our Family’s Guide To Holidaying On Bruny Island, Tasmania
Where to stay, what to eat, our five must-do experiences, plus everything else in between!
We fell hard for mainland Tasmania the minute we met her, but then Bruny Island came along and our hearts were torn – she was such a stunner!
Located off the bottom south-east corner of Tasmania, Bruny Island is renowned as Tassie’s premier island, and it’s not hard to see why. She is a delightful tapestry of breathtaking and beautifully preserved landscape, an abundance of wildlife and stunning scenery, with a rich ribbon of history that laces from her tip to her toe.
Our family of five – two parents, and three boisterous children – embarked on a week long holiday to discover Bruny Island, hoping we’d see a few cool sites and eat some yummy tucker. It didn’t take us long to realise we’d set our expectations far too low!
This is our guide to visiting Bruny Island, from the places we stayed, the restaurants we loved, our top five must-do things, as well as the weather, wilderness tours, ferry times and everything else in between – we hope you enjoy!
Bruny Island is Tasmania’s fourth largest island, spanning a total of 362 square kilometres – which is about the same size as Singapore, but with a lot less people! Home to breathtaking scenery, awe-inspiring landscapes, and less than 1000 permanent residents, the island offers ample open space to roam and relax, plus a lot less pollution than it’s similar sized buddy.
The Bruny Island ferry is the only way on and off the island. It is a short 20 minute ferry ride from the town of Kettering, which is 40 minutes south of Hobart in Tasmania. The ferry runs almost every hour and there is no need to book. A real-time ferry timetable can be accessed here.
COST: A vehicle less than six metres costs $38 for a return trip and $85 with a trailer. Larger vehicles cost more. There are also discounts available for drivers holding a pension card. You can see the full list of ferry fares here.
We visited Bruny Island late December, early January, and the weather was reaching maximums in the low 20s – so it was pretty comfortable. Nights would drop to about 12 degrees which was perfect for us. December is supposedly the windiest month, but we didn’t find it too bad.
If you are planning on travelling in winter – firstly, hats off to you! – be sure to pack plenty of warm clothes as the weather rarely creeps into the double digits. Judging from our experience, we’d say summer is a pretty prime time to explore the island.
If you’re only going to remember one thing to bring to Bruny Island (whilst we’re sure you’ll remember more than just one thing, you see the point we’re getting at) make it water. There are not many places over there to get water, so be prepared. The water that is available is mainly tank water, which you probably won’t want to use.
For all other essentials, Adventure Bay has you covered. It is on the north-east coast of South Bruny Island and has food, fuel and all that jazz.
The fact Bruny Island can only be reached via ferry seems to reduce the amount of tourists who visit, and because it takes just an hour to reach from Hobart, it’s more frequently visited as a day trip. We however, wanted to sink our teeth into every thing the island had to offer, so decided to stay a week. This was the perfect amount of time to see and experience all that we wanted.
During our week long trip to Bruny Island we stayed at two different sites, both of which provided us a good base for travelling around the island. It does however, only take a little over an hour to drive the length of Bruny Island from the top of the north island to the bottom of the south, so you could setup camp at just one spot if you preferred.
The following two campgrounds we stayed at were only suitable for caravans and RVs.
Accommodation #1: Woodcutters
We have to thank WikiCamps for getting us onto this amazing spot! Woodcutters was the first place we stayed, and whilst it was a little further afield it was definitely our favourite – which is probably why we stayed four nights!
If you are a fully self-contained traveller (as there are no amenities here) then be sure to check out Woodcutters. It is on the west side of North Bruny Island, about a 30 minute drive from the ferry terminal at Roberts Point. Located smack bang on the water, this spot offers not only the best sunsets we’d ever seen, but delicious oysters too! At low tide we walked down to the water and picked from literally hundreds of oysters. We crumbed them with the kids and cooked them on the campfire in oil – they were the best panko oysters we’d ever eaten.
We enjoyed fires on the beach, there was a jetty there to fish off (which the kids loved!), and the sunsets were far too spectacular for words.
COST: Only $10 per night!
FULL REVIEW: Read our full Woodcutters RV review here.
Accommodation #2: Bruny Island Landscape Supplies
We stayed at Bruny Island Landscape Supplies for two nights. This campground is part of a timber yard, located on the west coast of North Bruny Island in Great Bay. This spot was further south than our first accommodation, making it a convenient base for exploring the island.
The hosts were really friendly and the comfortable grassy sites were situated right opposite the beach. This Bruny Island Landscape Supplies campsite – just like the first place we stayed – is only suitable for fully self-sufficient travellers, although if you want to bring Fido along for the ride, he’s more than welcome at this campsite.
COST: $20 per night.
If you’re looking for things to do on Bruny Island, these are our five not-to-be-missed, absolute must-have experiences for you to check out.
Experience #1: The Cape Bruny Lighthouse
We loved the walk up to the Cape Bruny Lighthouse, and the view was even better! The 13 metre, convict-built lighthouse towers 114 metres above dramatic cliff tops offering spectacular views of the rugged and wild Cape Bruny coastline.
When lit, the lighthouse can be seen for 26 nautical miles! It was the fourth lighthouse constructed in all of Australia and had the honour of being the longest continuously manned lighthouse in the country, until it was decommissioned in 1996.
The lighthouse is situated at the very southern end of Bruny Island along a corrugated gravel road accessible in the dry to 2WD vehicles – be warned though, the dirt road can get a little rough.
To book a Cape Bruny Lighthouse Tour click here.
Experience #2: Bruny Island Cruise
If towering cliff fronts, incredible sea life encounters, deep sea caves and amazing coastal scenery sounds like a good day out to you, then The Bruny Island Pennicott Wilderness Tour is an absolute must-do!
It is a three hour open-aired boat tour that leaves Adventure Bay on Bruny Island, travels to the very bottom of South Bruny Island, and then back up again. The tour offers a front row seat of Australia’s highest sea cliffs – we are talking sheer cliff fronts that emerge from turquoise blue waters and tower up towards the sky above! There are incredible rock formations that looked like they’ve been sculpted at the hands of an eccentric sea giant, and a ‘Breathing Rock’ that sucks in water and then spits it out (perhaps this is the mouth of that eccentric sea giant!).
Then there is the wildlife! Hundreds of seals simply lazing on rocks, dolphins jumping by, and rare seabirds quietly nesting along the coast. This wilderness cruise is a must for exploring the rugged and magnificent coastline of Bruny Island.
Experience #3: Cloudy Bay
Cloudy Bay is a lovely calm beach on the southern most end of Bruny Island, accessible via a combination of sealed and unsealed road.
The bay consists of a five kilometre long beach, which at one end offers waves for surfing, and at the other end boasts a peaceful camping location complete with toilet facilities. Whilst we didn’t get to camp there during our visit, it’s definitely a spot we’ll try and get back for.
If you’re interested in visiting the Cloudy Bay campsite, check out the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Services website here.
Experience #4: Cape Queens Elizabeth Track
Cape Queens Elizabeth Track is located on the south-east corner of North Bruny Island, and provides incredible views of The Neck, Adventure Bay, as well as amazing rock formations and stunning secluded beaches.
There are two walking tracks to choose from – depending on whether it is low or high tide – that both lead to the well-known arch at the end. We did the walk with five children in total, so opted for the quicker and more interesting low tide walk along the beach. This trail was quite easy and only took an hour each way (it would be even quicker without kids).
The inland track on the other hand is a steeper, longer hill climb that takes walkers up and around the coast. If you’re wanting to take the beach track (which we recommend), make sure you check the current tides.
The easiest way to find the track is to head to The Honey Pot, as it starts directly across the street from there. If you get the chance, make sure you check out this walking track – put simply, our hats go off to the amazing rock formations on the Cape Queen Elizabeth Track (sorry, we couldn’t help ourselves!).
Experience #5: The Bruny Island Neck Observation Deck
Bruny Island consists of a north and south island that are connected by The Bruny Island Neck, a narrow stretch of land that hosts a 30 metre wide road and coastal dunes. The Neck serves as an important habitat for the native wildlife on the island – and trust us when we say there is ample wildlife!
There are timber stairs that lead up from the dunes to The Bruny Island Neck Observation Deck (try saying that three times fast!). This is a picturesque setting that includes boardwalks and observations platforms that allow for 360 degree views of the impressive landscape and native wildlife – if you’re lucky you might even see little penguins, also known as fairy penguins from up there.
The climb to the top is quite steep, so may prove tough for the elderly or unfit, but if you can make it up there you’ll realise why it’s a favourite photo opportunity for so many tourists! Unfortunately there are no drone shots allowed in this location though.
Bruny Island Cheese and Beer Co.
Bruny Island Cheese and Beer Co. is amazing – to say we loved it is an understatement. They are about 15 minutes from the ferry terminal as you head towards Adventure Bay, and take sustainability to a whole new level! These guys make their own cheese, brew their own beer, bake their own bread, raise their own beef cattle, and even produce their own organic milk! We had breakfast there and it was delicious. Definitely worth a visit if you’re heading to Bruny Island.
If you love a good oyster then Get Shucked is the place for you – in fact we loved it so much we went there twice! Located in Great Bay on the west coast on North Bruny Island, this place sustainably cultivates its own oysters right there in Great Bay, which is perhaps why their oysters are so unbelievably fresh and tasty. Our pick off the menu (and trust us, we tried a few!) is the Asian-infused oysters – they were the best!
We hope you enjoyed reading the ins and outs that made up our fabulous week-long family trip to Bruny Island. It is a breathtakingly, beautiful piece of the world to explore, and served to give our family of five memories that will last a lifetime!
If you are planning a trip to Tasmania, Australia, make sure this spot is at the top of your list.
Until next time, safe travels!
The Wallace Family x