Beauty and the Beasts: Bruny Island Cruises
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 as we donned the Bruny Island Cruises complimentary waterproof onesies – our only protection from the winds and open waters of the Great Southern Ocean.
It was my first time on Bruny Island, off the Tasmanian east coast.
The first time (but certainly not the last!) I’d 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.
On an island the same size as Singapore, but with 0.1 of 1% of Singapore’s 6,000,000 population, there’s a lot of room to move. And there should have been a lot more room in the open sea – but we hurtled straight towards The Monument, a rocky sea stack parallel to the perpendicular cliffs of South Bruny National Park, at 270+ metres high (~900 feet) the second highest in the Southern Hemisphere.
But, as the swell heaved and sucked against the wet rocks between The Monument and the cliffs, 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!
Although 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 reach out and touch them – from swirling its trailing tentacles through the shifting seas towards the boat.
Or the heavy sea spray drenching my straitjacket (but NOT the camera beneath) thereby proving the worth of this all-protective neck to knee suit WAY beyond reasonable doubt as with a blast of the horn we reached the Tasman Sea limits and officially entered the Southern Ocean.
But what did I expect? The tourist brochure had promised a ‘close connection with the wildlife and natural environment’ – and it wasn’t just the sea spray delivering a dose of natural drama. Now, as we neared the Friar Islands and the unmistakeable aroma of the thousands of seals which call them home, the wildlife part of the tour was about to kick in.
360 kg love machine probably isn’t the obvious word association result for ‘male Australian Fur Seal’, but 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 😀
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?
As the first gusts of wind preceding the approaching storm front blew in, the sea spray hits ratcheted up a notch as we turned for the open sea in a tactical manoeuvre (AND a clever way to monitor the effects of seasickness) to bring the twitchers* on board AND the rest of us face to beak with the original riders of the storm.
It worked. Even though I have no photos to prove it.
In a ‘lifer’ thrill for twitcher Pilchard (although an amazing experience for us non-birdwatchers too) 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 its 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!).
A rarity near mainland Australia, it’s a piece of extraordinary luck – or maybe karma – that we actually saw them! 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!
As the sky turned to lead above, we returned to the relative shelter of the coastline (Jurassic Dolerite never looked so good!) and another thunder ride thrill between the rocky spire of The Monument and the cliffs before leaving the drenching sea spray behind and heading to the harbour. Had our 2½ hours already passed? Unbelievable!!
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.
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!
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*Twitcher = Bird watcher! Who knew?!