Beauty and the Beasts: Bruny Island Cruises

Last Updated on May 5, 2021 by Red Nomad OZ

Sea Cave Bruny Island
Sea Cave on Bruny Island

Bruny Island

As far as I could tell, the fashion police hadn’t made it down to Bruny Island’s Adventure Bay.

Just as well.

If they had, they’d have been handing out infringement notices left, right and centre on board our purpose-built Naiad.   We were donning the Bruny Island Cruises complimentary waterproof onesies – our only protection from the winds and open waters of the Great Southern Ocean.

Fashion Statement on Bruny
The Fashionistas enter the Sea Cave, Bruny Island

It was my first time on Bruny Island, off the Tasmanian east coast.

The first time I’d ever worn a cross between a hooded sleeping bag with no feet and a straitjacket.

And it was the furthest south I’d been. Anywhere, ever.

The Monument

Bruny Island Cliffs
2nd Highest Cliffs in the Southern Hemisphere, Bruny Island

On an island the same size as Singapore, but with 0.1 of 1% of their 6 million population, there’s a lot of room to move. There should have been a lot more room in the open sea – but we were hurtling straight towards The Monument, a rocky sea stack parallel to the perpendicular cliffs of South Bruny National Park. At 270+ metres high (~900 feet), they’re the second highest in the Southern Hemisphere.

The swell heaved and sucked against the wet rocks between The Monument and the cliffs.  Instead of holding back, our guide turned the boat, gunned the motor and expertly rode that surging current through the gap like a seasoned surfer!

Praise be we’d lucked out with a CALM day!

Rock Caves

Sea Kelp on Bruny

The flat sea didn’t stop Breathing Rock – aka the Back End of Bruny – from backfiring to spew its salty sea spray towards the boat.

Or the kelp at the entrance to the sea cave – with walls so close we could touch them – from swirling its trailing tentacles through the shifting seas towards the boat.

Bruny's Back End Backfires!
The Back End of Bruny Backfires! Tasmania

Or the heavy sea spray drenching my straitjacket, but NOT the camera beneath.  That alone proved the worth of this all-protective neck to knee suit WAY beyond reasonable doubt. Then, with a blast of the horn, we reached the Tasman Sea limits and officially entered the Southern Ocean.

Friar Islands

But what did I expect? The tourist brochure had promised a ‘close connection with the wildlife and natural environment’. Now it wasn’t just the sea spray delivering a dose of natural drama. As we neared the Friar Islands we caught a whiff of the unmistakeable aroma of the thousands of seals which call them home. The wildlife part of the tour was about to kick in.

Big time.

Seals near Bruny Island
A Hunk of Burning Love, Friar Island Seals, via Bruny Island, Tasmania

360 kg love machine probably isn’t the obvious word association result for ‘male Australian Fur Seal’.  This description, presented by our (ironically male) guide is apparently accurate during mating season! Call me crazy, but is ‘love machines’ the collective noun for ANY heaving throng of overweight males grunting, fronting up to each other and jockeying for position in a competitive hierarchy?

I guess it depends on who’s doing the calling 😀

How NOT to take a Dolphin Shot!
What? NO Dolphins??

FAR less confronting (and controversial!) was the pod of dolphins.

‘It’s around about now that a lot of people get nice shots of the water,’ our guide announced as the cameras aimed towards those speedy shapes clicked, in some most cases pointlessly. She was right. See what I mean?

Cruising the Southern Ocean

As the first gusts of wind preceding the approaching storm front blew in, the sea spray hits ratcheted up a notch.  We turned for the open sea – a VERY clever way to monitor the effects of seasickness.  It was also a good tactical manoeuvre to bring the twitchers* on board, and the rest of us face to beak with the original riders of the storm.

Sea Cave Wall Patterns!
Sea Cave Wall, Bruny Island, Tasmania

It worked.  Even though I have no photos to prove it.

An amazing experience for non-birdwatchers and bird-watchers alike, a flock of Bullers Albatross (Thalassarche bulleri) riding the storm front swooped around us, gliding in the currents while feeding all around. Spending most of a 30-odd year life span on the wing over a 16,000,000 km² range, these Albatross land to mate and nest in a 4 km² range in New Zealand.  Thank you Wikipedia!

I never met a piece of dolerite I didn't like!
Jurassic Dolerite Cliff detail, Bruny Island

A rarity near mainland Australia, it’s a piece of extraordinary luck – or maybe karma – that we actually saw the albatross. If this awesome tour hadn’t already received multiple awards including Tasmania’s best tourist attraction and best in Australia, AND rave reviews on TripAdvisor I’d be nominating it for EVERYTHING!

The Return Trip

As the sky turned to lead above, we returned to the relative shelter of the coastline – Jurassic Dolerite never looked so good! After another thunder ride thrill between the rocky spire of The Monument and the cliffs we left the drenching sea spray behind and headed for harbour. Had our 2½ hours already passed? Unbelievable!!

Yes, we really DID go through that gap!
The Monument, South Bruny National Park, Tasmania

No, 10 days in Tassie wasn’t nearly long enough. In retrospect, I could’ve spent the whole 10 days on Bruny Island – and ‘doing’ this FAAAAABULOUS wilderness/wildlife cruise over again. And again. But for now it was over.

Return to Adventure Bay!
Adventure Bay, Bruny Island, Tasmania

Giving up my own personal fashion statement of the seas was like parting with an old friend as I emerged dry and warm from the wet outer layer.  With a DRY camera!  Fashion police be damned!

When being so unfashionable is THIS rewarding, whatever I have to wear I’m sure I’ll be trying it again. SOON!

Get started with the best flights for your own Bruny Island Adventure!

Want MORE?

*Twitcher = Bird watcher! Who knew?!

Waiting for the Ferry back to Mainland Tasmania, Bruny Island
Waiting for the Ferry back to Mainland Tasmania, Bruny Island
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  1. Great post !
    Why would eroding coastlines create caves? Wouldn’t the whole coastline erode, not just holes? More likely, eroding coast lines exposed the caves!
    Great thanks for this wonderful post !

  2. Interesting and VERY funny story! I also never manage to capture dolphins during such expeditions, like the pink dolphins we have in Hong Kong… I had actually never heard of Bruny Island before, is it really the size of Singapore? I would, however, like to go to Tasmania one day (for at least 10 days as well) and will keep Bruny Island on my bucket list for when that day comes. Thanks for this eye-opener!

    1. Maybe we should set up a support group for failed dolphin photographers, Dennis!! It’s mind-blowing that Bruny is the same size as Singapore (according to the info I read) – it’s hard to imagine 6 million people on it! Hope you make it to Tassie one day, it really is worth the effort!!

  3. I am not sure if i would be able to take that boat ride without getting sea sick. But I really like the fact that you not only made it there but also liked the place. The monument is totally worth a visit.

  4. I felt nauseous just reading the descriptions of your boat ride. I’m unfortunately one that suffers from seasickness a wee bit too often, so not sure if I’d survive this tour, which truly sucks, cuz it sounds INCREDIBLE. Isn’t it wonderful when you take a tour and it more than delivers?

    1. I’m so lucky I don’t get seasick – the only thing making me nauseous was our boiler suits, haha! There might be days when it’s calm, but not too many I don’t think 😀

  5. Ha-ha! I loved your thorough and comedic description of your tour to Bruny Island! What a fantastic experience — both exciting and awe-inspiring. It’s no wonder you want to return!

  6. totally enjoyed your write-up, photos and your humor along the way even about the clothes!! Spent a day in Tasmania on a cruise stop in 2006, lovely island, thoroughly enjoyed it even though it poured during the morning. Would not mind visiting there for a week!

    1. Thank you Marga – I’m glad you enjoyed it!! I thought 10 days in Tassie wasn’t enough time, but just ONE day? I wouldn’t know where to start! Hope you’re planning a return visit – just like I am!

  7. Great images, its a wonderful coastline and trip which I have done a couple times. Not sure how constructive your comments about the protective gear were??? I found them extremely practical, kept the wind, rain and spray out and fitted over whatever anyone was wearing. I cant imagine what they could give customers that would do the job more effectively. It is better to be part of the solution than the problem, maybe some constructive suggestions for improvements would hep?

    1. Hi Phil! Please forgive my (misguided) attempts at humour! No offence to the jackets – I’d do the trip again in a heartbeat no matter what I had to wear to do it, as I thought I’d pointed out at the end of the post! However, I’ve made some slight modifications to the wording to avoid future misunderstanding – and who knows? Perhaps we’ll see each other down there again sometime!! Thanks for your comment – I’ve got a LOT more of awesome Australia to show you!

  8. Fabulous photos Red! a ferry trip like that would be right up my alley, except for the cold.
    I’d have to do it in the height of summer and probably still be rugged up like an Eskimo in winter.

    1. Haha, you wouldn’t need to be rugged up in anything but the neck to knee fashion atrocity we were given to wear!!! And the clothes you had on underneath, of course!!! It’s SO worth the trip – it was actually the highlight of our Tassie adventure!

  9. A smart looking new blog. I wish I had visited Bruni when we were in Tassie but the weather was bad and we were advised against it. Thanks to you Now I’ve seen it.

  10. I’d love to do that, though unfortunately it couldn’t be less conveniently placed geographically! I’ll probably have to make do with trips nearer to home.

    1. Haha, I SO get that – it’s actually not that conveniently located for me either! But I’m a LOT closer than you!! I guess vicarious travel has its own rewards 😀

  11. Great photos. great commentary. Great island.
    I loved Bruny, stayed in a round B&B and on the ferry met people from where I live (nowhere near and of the route to Bruny). Did you see the Bligh Museum?

    1. An updated comment is worth 2 on the blog?? My pleasure and privilege to get them both! Tragically, our 10 day stay was too short to do all the things we wanted. I see a MUCH longer stay in our future 😀

  12. correction: “nowhere near any of the routes to Bruny” and how clever to get 2 comments for the effort of 1.
    All of Tasmania is magical touring, eating and drinking, except for the excessive roadkill. If there was zero roadkill, the place would be crammed with furry creatures.
    Kettering dock was just like the marina at Cannes full of glamorous ocean-going yachts.
    Wonderful cartoonists Kudelka and FirstDog both biked around Tassie and blogged it hilariously – hope you enjoy their pictures too.

    1. Welcome to my new blog Ms O’Dyne!! SO great to hear from you and thank you so much for the hilarious link! I LOVED the Kettering marina – just as well, we missed the ferry we had come to catch and had a 90 minute wait for the next one. SO agree about the roadkill – bad roads + appalling driving = disasters-waiting-to-happen! Have a great week!

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