With such a short ferry ride from mainland Tasmania and proximity to its capital, Hobart, Bruny Island makes for the perfect day trip. The island, split into a north and south side and joined by ‘the Neck’, is a nature lovers paradise. Penguins, white wallabies and seals are all to be found on this small and picturesque south-east corner of Tasmania. Rugged coastal walks invoke the inner adventurer while secluded beaches invite a moment’s rest. Oh, and let’s not forget the oysters, cheese and beer, because no good day trip is complete without some good fodder.
Bruny Island | Complete Day Trip Guide
It’s hard to cram the wealth of activities and sights that Bruny Island has to offer into one day. However, for most of us that’s all the time we have. Read on for our best 7 ways to enjoy this island escape. We include coastal walks, beautiful beaches, hill top lookouts and local produce you MUST sample.
1. The Neck- Bruny Island
Arrive early to beat the crowds: If you’ve come across images of Bruny Island before, no doubt The Neck will have been the defining shot. It’s one of the first images I saw of Bruny Island and was completely blown away. This thin stretch of land draped either side in golden sand, and wrapped around in the sapphire blue of the sea looks surely tropical. Like some remote island out in the Pacific. The lush green vegetation that’s threaded through the centre, before spanning out into rolling hills in the distance, is teeming with wildlife. Quite frankly, it’s a very special place to stand and take in the moment.
The Neck is an isthmus of land connecting the north and south parts of the island. Since the introduction of an elevated boardwalk, it offers the most stunning 360 views of Bruny.
Wildlife at The Neck
The boardwalk isn’t just for our pleasure. The Neck supports the habitat of some of the islands native wildlife- in particular Fairy Penguins (or Little Penguins). The boardwalk helps to protect the ground and consequently preserves the burrows. Sometimes, at dusk, it is possible to see the penguins returning to their homes after a day out at sea. Quite the spectacle! However, if you visit Bruny Island for a day trip, you’ll be unlikely to see this due to the ferry times heading to and from mainland Tasmania.
The Neck is also home to short-tailed shearwaters, Australia’s most common seabird. They’ll gather on the islands in the Bass Strait to breed, with Bruny Island being a prime residence. Septemeber-February are the best months for viewing both these birds.
Also situated at The Neck are picnic tables and public toilets for your convenience.
If you love Little Penguins, then you should consider a visit to Phillip Island, Victoria, which is home to a huge colony. It’s one of our favourite wildlife moments whilst travelling around Australia. Check out our post here.
2. Cape Queen Elizabeth Walk
- Type: Out & Back
- Distance: 12km
- Time: 3 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 340m
- Difficulty: Grade 3
- Trailhead: Car park just off the main road next to the airstrip. Look for road signs.
If you only hike one trail, make sure it’s this one: As with mainland Tasmania, there’s no shortage of beautiful trails to follow. Cape Queen Elizabeth is one of them. The walk is a 3 hour/ 12 km return trail that encompasses both bushland and beach. Its crown jewel is the epic natural rock arch on Miles Beach. Many people choose to hike only to this point, but the trail continues along the beach and up onto a coastal track to reach the headland of Cape Queen Elizabeth. It’s definitely worth completing the full route.
A spectacular little lookout. To begin the trail you’ll find the car park located off Bruny Island main road, next to the airstrip. It is about a 20km drive from the ferry port. The initial stage follows an old 4WD dirt road heading straight toward the coast and is easy to follow. We got our speed hiking heads on, keen to explore as much as possible. The trail soon turns sandy and so walking becomes a little trickier in the soft terrain. You know how it is. You’re working hard but don’t seem to be moving very far. The wide path soon narrows into a single person track, with vegetation closing in on the sand path. By this point, you’re nearing the beach.
STORY TIME: Dan had arranged this walk, and so he took the lead. And I’m glad he did. Although he didn’t tell me until we reached the beach, he gently informed me he’d seen a snake on the thin sand track. It had slithered into the bushes quickly as we approached (or rather Dan nearly stood on it), but as usual, they are more scared of us than we should be of them. Yeah, sure. Dan waited to tell me so as not to alarm me. However, I’m British, no matter what point you tell me, I will be alarmed. But Bruny is full of wildlife, and so there’s a chance of encountering all sorts. It’ll be rare to see snakes, but perhaps keep your eyes peeled all the same.
As you approach the beach you have two options: to take the beach path or the bluff path. The quickest route to the arch is to take the beach path. However, this all depends on tidal times. It is important to check them before you set out. You can check them here. We hit the beach just before official low tide and still found it too risky to climb or wade around. There would have been a lot of rock scrambling along the bottom of the cliff. Not a smart idea and certainly not safe.
A Cape Queen Elizabeth icon. Should you arrive at high tide, instead take the Mars Bluff path up and over. The views back towards The Neck and out to Cape Queen Elizabeth are easily worth the extra effort. In fact, we would recommend always taking this route purely because the views are so good. From here you’ll descend down through sand dunes and onto the wonderfully secluded Miles Beach. Head back right along the beach to find the arch.
Carved out by wind and crashing waves, the natural arch created is a beautiful solitary window view, out onto the ocean and beyond. The golden sand flows down from the surrounding dunes and through its opening. The enclosing cliffs offer secluded shade and a moments privacy, if you can time your visit well that is. Of course, such is the beauty of this little patch, it’ll be hard to pull yourself away. But the walk must go on.
The trail continues left along Miles Beach, heading back away from the arch. Walking on sand is arduous, especially when trying to keep a quick pace, but a coastal trail always feels better when there’s a beach walk involved. Toward the end of the beach, the trail will veer left and back up onto the dunes. From here you will start to climb into coastal bushland and begin the hike to the cape. Walking the length of Miles Beach in utter seclusion felt like a rare treat in itself. We saw just one other person on the whole of the cape section of the walk. For an island so popular, it was lovely to escape the crowds.
The trail leads into a densely covered tree section as you head away from the beach. The terrain is straightforward and the elevation hardly noticeable. You should be able to cover this part fairly quickly.
STORY TIME: Moving quickly is also helped when you come across a section of grassy track littered in crickets. And we mean LITTERED. We actually sprinted a good 20m as they started springing up around us. It was like a chain reaction of tiny little mouse traps going off one after the other. I’ve never seen anything like it. Let’s just say I wasn’t looking forward to that section on the return. Still, they’re harmless, and it makes us laugh now when we think back on it.
As you near the end of the cape, the landscape opens up again. Aside from the odd tree, and the bush scrub covering the headland, the views are fairly unimpeded. After viewing the cape from The Neck, it’s nice to see it from the other way around. Simply gorgeous.
Cape Queen Elizabeth Return
To return, follow the same path. Once you enter back onto Miles Beach, if the tide allows, you can either take the beach route back or if not, return via Mars Bluff again.
The Cape Queen Elizabeth hike turned out to be as eventful (wildlife-wise) as it was enjoyable. The views are wonderful, the scenery sublime and the quietness felt tranquil and peaceful. A truly excellent walk to take when visiting Bruny Island for a day trip.
WHAT IS SPEED HIKING? Covering a hike in a quicker time than normal in order to cover more distance rather than complete in a certain time. A speed hiker’s aim is to see more, not race.
3. Get Shucked Oyster Farm
Oysters are a must. If there’s one thing Bruny knows how to do, it’s fresh seafood. Get Shucked is the best place to experience the freshest oysters. Whether drizzled in lemon or cooked in an array of flavours, they must be tried during your day trip to Bruny Island. This stalwart oyster bar farms and serves up their own oysters- you really couldn’t ask for better. Such is the popularity you may be struggling for a seat at lunchtime. The bar is open from 9.30 am-4.30 pm with prices ranging from $2AUD ($1.20USD) for a single naked oyster to $17AUD ($11USD) for a more elaborate half a dozen Asian styled.
This was my first time trying an oyster, and so, if you’re an oyster novice like myself, you couldn’t be in better hands. Surprisingly (or unsurprisingly to seafood lovers), my first naked oyster was much nicer than I was anticipating. I put that down in part to Get Shucked serving up such fresh oysters, that are expertly crafted straight to the plate. We highly recommend a quick pit stop here with an order of Mother-in-laws Kilpatrick- now these I could get on board with.
You could easily get carried away splashing the cash at Get Shucked. Oysters do not come cheaply. In fact, we saw many patrons doing just such. I guess if you want to enjoy the best oysters though, you’d be hard pushed to find better elsewhere.
4. Bruny Island Cheese Co.
Say Cheese!: Whilst we’re on the food trail, let’s talk about Bruny Island Cheese Company– because who doesn’t like cheese. This small scale business farms their own organic cows to produce the milk that goes into their cheese. Love and care from start to finish. They also brew their own beer! So, with that in mind, visiting their cellar door and sampling the self-guided cheese board ($5AUD/$3USD) and beer paddle ($12AUD/$7.50USD) is an absolute must.
The plates come hand in hand with a menu of your selection, with information and recommendations on which beers you should drink with each cheese. All very fun and tasty, especially if you’re not designated driver for the day! Plus, after the hike to Cape Queen Elizabeth, you’ll certainly be ready for a light snack and cheese and beer works perfectly.
The food tasting at Get Shucked and The Bruny Island Cheese Co. is where you can really relax. It’s popular too. All those people missing from the hiking trail, yeah, you’ll find them here. Again, it can be quite busy over the lunchtime period, and so finding a spot inside, or outside if the weather permits, might be tricky. But it’s worth the wait. Your tasting plate is also refunded if you purchase a block of cheese from the shop.
5. Cape Bruny Lighthouse
Located at the southernmost tip of the island lies Cape Bruny Lighthouse. It’s Australia’s second oldest surviving lighthouse and the tower now sits proudly as part of the South Bruny National Park. It’s towering white facade stands clearly on the headland, having spent almost 200 years as an essential part of this coastline. And what a coastline it is too. The rugged clifftops are sublime, shaped and battered over time by the turbulent Southern Ocean. If you’re lucky, you may spot migrating whales out there.
On site you’ll also find a bijoux museum housed in an old workman’s cottage with a brief history on the lighthouse- it’s interesting and worth a quick read.
See More of South Bruny National Park
South Bruny National Park encompasses most of the southern island. It has numerous gems worth checking out too should you have time. Cloudy Bay is a popular surf beach as well as being known as an excellent walk. Adjacent to this, separated by a thin stretch of land, sits Cloudy Bay Lagoon. And should you decide to stay longer than a day, or skip our other recommendations listed, then you can, of course, complete the six hour circuit on Labillardiere Peninsula.
The lighthouse is one of the top places to visit on the island and consequently, parking can be a bit of an issue given the minimal number of spaces. Don’t be surprised if you end up parking back down on the roadside. Luckily the turnaround of visitors seems fairly quick. For more information on South Bruny Island National Park, be sure to visit Parks Tas.
6. Adventure Bay
A big hub of the south island. The final part of our day trip to Bruny Island was a quick stop at Adventure Bay. On the east side of the island, the expansive bay lies just before crossing back over The Neck. This area holds great historical significance as it was the first bay to be sighted by European explorers and consequently is named after one of the first ships to anchor here-‘The Adventure’.
The bay is relatively sheltered and so excellent for swimming and general relaxing water activities. As one of the main hubs on Bruny, you’ll find Adventure Bay to be busy with tourists. It feels more built up to, with numerous caravan sites and holiday villages skirting the coastline.
A popular spot to photograph is Two Tree Point. This picturesque outlook sits at the end of Resolution Creek at the northern end of Adventure Bay. A monument stands to mark the 1777 landing of Captain Cook. If you enjoy the outdoors AND history, this is the place for you.
7. Fluted Cape Walk
- Type: Loop
- Distance: 4km
- Time: 2 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 270m
- Difficulty: Grade 4
- Trailhead: East Cove Car Park
Leave enough time for this hike. We actually didn’t have a chance to complete this walk during our Bruny Island day trip. Clearly spending too much time devouring cheese and oysters. We regret nothing though. However, it is a shame to leave a trail unfinished. Even speed hiking wouldn’t have got us round in time to take the ferry back.
The 4 km walk begins from East Cove Car Park at the southern end of Adventure Bay. Taking around 2 hours to complete the loop, it is to be walked in a clockwise direction only. The walk hugs the coastline as you follow the trail towards Grass Point on the headland. From here you’ll have views across to Penguin Island. The trail ascends sharply as you make your way up to Fluted Cape. Up here you’ll be met with stunning views back down over Adventure Bay and The Neck to The north, and south over the splendour of South Bruny National Park. Please let us know in the comments if you have completed this trail, we’d love to hear the full details.
A shorter and easier walk would be to Grass Point and back, taking around 1.5 hours to complete.
Bruny Island Recap
Our day trip to Bruny Island was part of a week long adventure exploring Tasmania. We can honestly say Bruny Island was one of our favourite parts. The landscape is truly beautiful, the beaches as good as you’ll find in any of Australia. And then throw into the mix the excellent food produce and well, we can’t think of a better day out.
Getting to and from Bruny Island
Have a car: Bruny Island does not have bus links or taxis, so you’ll need to hire a car. We rented from Bargain Cars Rental via Rentalcars.com at Hobart International Airport for $556AUD ($357USD) for our weeks stay in Tasmania. Note this was Australian summer holidays, so more expensive than usual.
The drive to Kettering from Hobart takes around 40 minutes, and from here you board the Sealink ferry to Bruny. Arrive at least 20 minutes before the departure time of the ferry you wish to catch, this is especially important during peak season. Fares are paid as you board and automatically cover a return journey. Passengers travel free, the fare covers the vehicle. We travelled in January 2020 and the price for the car was $38AUD ($24USD). The journey time of the ferry is around 30 minutes.
Don’t leave the ferry too late…like for real: At around 4.30pm we were ready to head back to Hobart, hoping to either make the 5pm ferry or at the very worst 5.30pm. However, it turned out neither was going to be for us. We cannot stress enough how long the queue for the ferry gets. In all, we had to wait for 1.5 hrs and board the 6.30pm ferry. Although we have no idea whether all the cars behind us (and there were many) made it onto the 7.15pm and final ferry of the day, we can only suggest not leaving your departure too late.
A day trip from Hobart. We travelled to Bruny Island as part of a three night stay in Hobart. If you’re not planning to stay on Bruny Island, then accommodation in Hobart is probably the most straightforward choice, and ultimately cheapest.
Local supplies for a Bruny Island Day Trip
Shop on mainland Tasmania first. We shopped at the local Woolworths on mainland Tasmania before we left for Bruny Island itself. Alternatively, you will find groceries can be bought from the Adventure Bay, Alonnah and Oyster Cove general stores.
- Ferry ticket: $38AUD/person ($24USD) or $19AUD/person if splitting ($12USD)
- Oysters: $8AUD/person ($6USD)
- Cheese board & beer paddle: $8.50AUD/person ($5USD)
- Packed lunch: $3AUD/person ($2USD)
= $38.50AUD/person ($27.50USD) + fuel
Five Travel Accessories for a Bruny Island Day Trip
These are our five travel gear essentials for the Bruny Island day trip. For a more comprehensive packing list, please check out the Ultimate Packing Checklist. It’s a great general summary of everything you’d need for a trip. For even more information check out our 66 Travel Accessories That You Must Travel With. We go in-depth into what travel, hiking and camping gear we use. There, you’ll find specific recommendations for all the products we love.
- Osprey Skarab 30L Day Backpack – a good rucksack goes a long way, especially when packing all the essentials for a day trip to Bruny Island. I’ve been using this rucksack for a long time now and highly recommend it.
- Karrimor 1L Clear Water Bottle x 2 – these good quality water bottles fit perfectly into the side pockets of the Osprey rucksack. Ease of access is perfect.
- Nikon D3400 Digital SLR Camera – Bruny Island is so picturesque and so packing a good camera is a must. This is one of our go-to’s when able to pack a bit heavier having a car.
- Banana Boat Sport Sunscreen Lotion (SPF 50+) – if you’re going to be outdoors all day, be sun smart. Simple.
- Ray-Ban Polarised Clubmaster Square Sunglasses – by the same token as above, a good pair of sunglasses is an essential part of your trip gear.
To be fully prepared for getting around Bruny Island, consider downloading a GPS guided map before you set out. We recommend Wikiloc or AllTrails. For those not so prepared, if you’re needing navigation help during the hike and don’t have any phone reception, consider using Maps.me. Although you need to have at least downloaded the map of the general area beforehand.
- Arrive early at ‘The Neck’: A popular part of any Bruny Island day trip, head here first if you want uninterrupted views of the coastline and boardwalk before it gets too busy.
- Smart packing: If, like us, you’re trying to fit as much into your day trip as possible, you may not allocate much time to sit and soak up the beach life. However, we took a quick 20 minute pit stop at the Arch and found our microfibre towel worked a treat as we’re always keen to pack as lightly as possible.
- Fuel: There is only one fuel station on Bruny Island, located at Adventure Bay General Store.
- Drive carefully: there is a lot of wildlife activity around dusk and dawn. It is therefore imperative, especially between these hours, to drive carefully and responsibly. Animals are not in the habit of stopping and checking for cars before they dart across the road- which sadly is very common.
- White Wallaby: Bruny Island has wildlife not found anywhere else- namely the white wallaby, and you may have to be fairly lucky to see one…unless one decides to jump out into the road 20m ahead of you like it did for us.
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