As with the rest of mainland Tasmania, there’s no shortage of beautiful trails to follow on dinky Bruny Island. But, if like us, you only really have time for one walk on Bruny Island, then make sure it’s the Cape Queen Elizabeth Track. This beautiful coastal walk is surely Bruny Island’s finest walk. The Cape Queen Elizabeth Walk encompasses both beach and bushland, with a visit to its crown jewel – the epic Bruny Island natural rock arch. Found on Miles Beach, this incredibly secluded attraction is a big ticket item on Bruny Island. As well as the Bruny Island arch, the Cape Queen Elizabeth Track passes the beautiful Mars Bluff as you make your way to one of the finest viewpoints on Bruny Island – Cape Queen Elizabeth.
In this guide, we’ll provide information on how to get to Bruny Island and where to park for the Cape Queen Elizabeth Walk. We’ll also provide a brief trail description, answer some FAQs and look at what to pack and bring with you.
For more wonderful walks in Tasmania, check out our guide on Cradle Mountain. Alternatively, for other fantastic things to do on Bruny Island, check out our guide on the Top 7 Things to do on Bruny Island.
Table of Contents
How to Get to Cape Queen Elizabeth
Dan and I visited Bruny Island and the Cape Queen Elizabeth Walk as part of a day trip from mainland Tasmania. You’ll likely be doing something similar.
This wonderful Bruny Island walk is found on the northern half of the island, just a short distance from The Neck, which is possibly Bruny Island’s most famous attraction. Reaching the trailhead for the Cape Queen Elizabeth Track, Mars Bluff and the Bruny Island Arch is very straightforward. It involves a short ferry crossing from Kettering on mainland Tasmania. The easiest way to do the trip is to drive there yourself.
Car Rental Bruny Island
Dan and I rented a car from Hobart Airport. It was the most convenient option. But, you can hire a car from downtown Hobart too.
If you don’t have access to your own vehicle, then we recommend hiring something. When hiring a car, we always get the ball rolling with a search on RentalCars.com. Booking a car with Rentalcars.com is easy and stress-free, plus they offer an unbeatable free cancellation policy too.
For more information on how to get to Bruny Island from Tasmania, click here.
Cape Queen Elizabeth Track Overview
The Cape Queen Elizabeth Track is a must-do when visiting Bruny Island. It’s a fantastic way to see and experience some of the incredible natural sights and wildlife on this lovely island, as well as a way to step away from the hustle and bustle of the usual tourist hotspots. Although, of course, they are absolutely worth a visit too. Below, we’ll take a look at some quick stats to help you plan the day.
Cape Queen Elizabeth Walk Difficulty
Tasmania National Parks rate this Bruny Island walk as Grade 3. This means the Cape Queen Elizabeth Track is suitable for most ages and levels of fitness. You’ll encounter some bush, where some level of bushwalking experience is required, and there’ll be some short and steep sections. We found this Bruny Island walk to be nothing too challenging though. The hardest part was generally walking over soft sand!
Total Walking Time & Distance
The Cape Queen Elizabeth Track time is around 3 hours, with a distance of 12 km.
There are elements of the Cape Queen Elizabeth Walk that require you to check the tides. Don’t worry, if the tidal times are not on your side, there’s an alternative route, which we used when we visited. But, access to Mars Bluff and Miles Beach can only be made along the beach if at low tide. Otherwise, you’ll take the coastal bush trail to access the arch at Bruny Island.
Amenities on the Cape Queen Elizabeth Track
There are no toilets or food or drink to be found on this Bruny Island walk. The nearest toilets can be found at The Neck Car Park. Make sure to bring plenty of water with you before the start of the walk.
Parking For Cape Queen Elizabeth Bruny Island
You’ll find the car park for the Cape Queen Elizabeth Track located off Bruny Island’s main road, next to the airstrip. It’s about a 20km drive from the ferry port.
Cape Queen Elizabeth Track Map & Preview
- Trail Type: Out & Back
- Distance: 12km
- Time: 3 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 340m
- Difficulty: Grade 3
- Trailhead: Unnamed Road, Great Bay TAS 7150, Australia (input to Google Maps)
- Map: Wikiloc
Cape Queen Elizabeth Walk
To begin the trail, the initial stages of the Bruny Island walk follow an old 4WD dirt road. It heads straight toward the coast and is easy to follow. We got our speed hiking heads on for the walk, keen to explore as much as possible on our Bruny Island day trip. 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’ll be nearing the beach.
What’s speed hiking? It’s pushing the pace, covering that trail quicker without losing any of the joy of soaking in your surroundings. Find out more here.
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, and so 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.
Neck Beach & Big Lagoon Bruny Island
The Cape Queen Elizabeth Track passes between Big Lagoon to your right and Little Lagoon to your left. On the shores of Big Lagoon is Neck Beach. Bruny Island’s Neck Beach is a tiny picturesque patch of golden sand, separated by a sliver of bush from the coast. From here, you’ll continue along the trail toward the beach.
As you approach the beach, you have two options: either you can take the beach path or the bluff path. The quickest route to the arch on Bruny Island is to take the beach path. Essentially, this trail leads down to the sand and you walk up the beach to reach the Bruny Island Arch. That being said, it all depends on tidal times.
It’s important to check the Bruny Island tidal times before you set out. You can check them here.
Dan and I arrived at the beach just before the official low tide so thought our luck might be in. It wasn’t. We found it too risky to climb or wade around the headland to access the arch on Bruny Island this way. There would have been a lot of rock scrambling along the bottom of the cliff. Certainly not the safest way to get to the arch, especially when there’s a very simple alternative over Bruny Island’s Mars Bluff.
Mars Bluff Bruny Island
Should you arrive at high tide too, you’ll instead take the Mars Bluff path up and over the headland to reach the arch on Bruny Island. 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. You’ll need to head right and back along the beach to find the Bruny Island Arch.
Bruny Island Arch
The Bruny Island Arch is a wonderful natural attraction on the Cape Queen Elizabeth Track. Carved out by wind and crashing waves, the natural arch is a beautiful solitary window view, looking out onto the ocean and beyond. Golden sand flows down from the surrounding dunes and through its opening. The enclosing cliffs offer secluded shade and a moment’s privacy if you can time your visit well. Of course, such is the beauty of this little arch on Bruny Island, it’ll be hard to pull yourself away, but the walk must go on.
Miles Beach Bruny Island
The trail continues to the left, along Miles Beach, heading away from the arch on Bruny Island with the ocean on your right. 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 Miles Beach, the trail veers left and back up onto the dunes. From here, you’ll start to climb into coastal bushland and begin the walk to Cape Queen Elizabeth.
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 Queen Elizabeth section of the walk. For an island so popular, it was lovely to escape the crowds. But, we suppose most people only visit the Bruny Island Arch and return. Still, you’ll be missing one incredible walk if you do so.
The Cape Queen Elizabeth Track leads into a densely covered tree section as you head away from the beach. The terrain is straightforward and the elevation is hardly noticeable. You should be able to cover this part fairly quickly.
Cape Queen Elizabeth
As you near the end of Cape Queen Elizabeth, the landscape opens up again. Aside from the odd tree, and the bush scrub covering the headland, the views are fairly unimpeded. The views from Cape Queen Elizabeth looking toward The Neck, are truly beautiful. Once you’ve soaked in what feels like a truly hidden gem on Bruny Island, it’s time to retrace your steps and walk back.
Cape Queen Elizabeth Return Walk
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 past the arch on Bruny Island, or if not, return via Mars Bluff again.
Cape Queen Elizabeth Track Recap
Bruny Island’s Cape Queen Elizabeth Track turned out to be one of the most enjoyable walks we did on our wider Tasmania trip. The views are wonderful, the scenery sublime and the quietness felt tranquil and peaceful. A truly excellent walk, if not the best walk, when visiting Bruny Island.
Below, we’ll answer some of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to the Cape Queen Elizabeth Track and finding Mars Bluff and the Bruny Island Arch.
How Long Is the Cape Queen Elizabeth Walk?
The Cape Queen Elizabeth Walk is 12km and takes around 3 hours to complete. If only heading to the Bruny Island Arch, then expect the walk to take around 45 minutes and is 3km one-way.
How Do You Get to the Arch on Bruny Island?
The arch on Bruny Island is accessed via the Cape Queen Elizabeth Track. You can complete the full Cape Queen Elizabeth Walk, as we did. Or, you can simply walk to the arch and back on Bruny Island as mentioned above. Many people choose to do so, but we recommend the full Cape Queen Elizabeth Track.
How Do I Get to Mars Bluff?
Mars Bluff is found at the intersection of the Cape Queen Elizabeth Track with the beach path to access Bruny Island’s arch. The coastal path that leads over the headland down to Miles Beach is Mars Bluff, and the views along this section of the coastal track are beautiful, helping make the Cape Queen Elizabeth Track Bruny Island’s best walk.
Five Walking Essentials For Bruny Island
These are our five walking essentials for the Cape Queen Elizabeth Track in Bruny Island! For a more extensive hiking gear list, check out our 66 Travel Accessories That You Must Travel With. Alternatively, for a general summary of everything you’d need for a hiking trip to Tasmania, visit our Ultimate Packing Checklist.
- Merrell Moab Mid Gore-Tex Hiking Boots: these hiking boots are super comfortable and lightweight.
- The North Face Venture Jacket: a fantastic windproof/waterproof jacket.
- Osprey Skarab 30L Day Backpack: a great backpack for hiking, which has plenty of space to store your gear.
- The North Face TKA Glacier Fleece Jacket: an excellent warmth:weight ratio fleece jacket that’ll help keep you warm.
- Columbia Convertible Trousers: a value for money pair of water-resistant convertible trousers.
You should also pack water and snacks. If the weather is good, consider a picnic and maybe your swimmers!
- Other Bruny Island coastal walks: for more coastal walks on Bruny Island, consider the Fluted Cape Walk and the East Cloudy Head Track.
- Drive carefully: there is a lot of wildlife activity around dusk and dawn. It’s 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.
- Where to eat: Get Shucked Oyster Farm and The Bruny Island Cheese Co. have to be the go-to food options. Certainly, we loved them both!
- Bruny Island Tours: if you want the hassle taken out of your trip planning, Get Your Guide offer some pretty great tour options to Bruny Island.