Heidi Sze's journey to an island off an island off an island took in bees, cheese and oysters – along with a sprinkling of cheeky seals and speedy dolphins.
Holidays are for relinquishing routine and making it your full-time job to delight in all the things you fancy. Before leaving the Huon Valley and heading to Bruny Island on our Tasmanian getaway, my husband and I thought it most appropriate to delight in croissants and coffee in our cosy bed at Woodbridge Hill Hideaway. The perfect way to start your day, don’t you think?
The fact that one must catch a ferry to reach Bruny Island is both charming and paramount to keeping the island special, untamed and uncluttered. Venture across the D’Entrecasteaux Channel and you begin to feel like you’re in a whole new world, an old world. There’s space here, space to breathe and wander and swim and snooze, all without seeing another soul. Well, you might come across a wallaby.
My husband and I spent three glorious days on Bruny Island. And despite the spacious landscape there are many great spots to tour. Beyond the nature walks and swimming spots, which you may correctly assume are stunning, there’s an abundance of foodie destinations. Just down the road from the ferry terminal is the Bruny Island House of Whisky, which has a spectacular collection of Tasmanian whiskies as well as award-winning spreads, chutneys and smoked fish – all of which you can taste! I suggest you stock up on goods here for a picnic or eat in and enjoy a platter with a view.
We purposefully got lost on the way to our next destination and in doing so stumbled across some bees and their keepers from Tasiliquid Gold honey, as well as some hidden rocky coves. I encourage you to get lost once in a while, you’ll never know what gems you might find.
The dedicated cheese master and team at Bruny Island Cheese churn out divine cheese to sample and purchase, as well as Leatherwood honey ice-cream, breads and preserves. My particular favourite was the raw milk C2 cheese, though we enjoyed debating this at leisure over our delicious platter. A word of warning, you might also like to share one of their super delicious wood fired sourdough pizzas. Trust me, if you see a neighbouring table receive theirs without ordering one yourself you’ll instinctively lunge at them to claim your pizza territory and things will end badly. Nobody likes a fight in a cheesery.
Full of calcium, we headed for a hike at Mount Mangana and had ourselves the most peaceful and invigorating afternoon, treading and talking amongst the leaves and moss.
Afterwards we headed to Alonnah and checked into Curlew Villa, a modern, self-contained cottage. Abiding by the holiday loafing law, we spent the evening lazing on the deck drinking Tasmanian cider. Though we did manage to muster the energy to assemble a meal with goodies collected over the course of our travels, including Bruny Island Smokehouse pomegranate quail. Mid-way through dinner on the deck overlooking Daniel’s Bay, I turned to my husband and proclaimed that I wouldn’t be mad if the ferry workers took a break for a week. He agreed. We were quite happy on Bruny Island, thanks.
The next day we woke with the sun for a morning date with a couple of oysters.
Get Shucked is a Bruny Island business run by a young entrepreneur and his partner. In the twelve years since purchase, their oyster farm has grown from a humble roadside caravan to a thriving wholesale business. The oyster bar gives everyday folk the opportunity to taste their farm fresh oysters natural and dressed (or in wontons!). These guys are passionate about encouraging Australians to eat oysters, good oysters, and boy are these babies good. My husband and I felt very lucky to have the chance to participate in the morning oyster farming rounds for a sneak peek into the world of Get Shucked. Tasting oysters straight from the ocean was shucking unreal. We were “living the dream”, as the owner says.
Our next stop was the Bruny Island Berry Farm, to pick some little beauties for snacking. I grew up with berry-stained fingers from our bush at home, so was tickled pink by their 13 different varieties. Though we couldn’t stay long on this raspberry jam-packed day – we were off on a cruise around Bruny Island!
What a fun way to spend a day, zooming around the bay, greeting cheeky seals and speedy dolphins and marvelling at the phenomenal rock faces and caves, the colours and contours of which were overwhelmingly beautiful. I am thankful this corner of Tasmania is protected and celebrated. During the cruise our guides gave fascinating insights into the history and science of these natural wonders. They also handed out ginger tablets to keep nausea at bay and ended with celebratory Tim Tams. Bravo boys, we had a ball on the Bruny Island Cruise.
All that boating excitement left us ravenous. Bruny Island Premium Wines Bar and Grill was the perfect spot for lunch, satisfying our keen craving for a hearty steak and giving us the chance to linger in the vines. The owners were warm and attentive, prioritising good service and homegrown produce. We adored our Bruny Island Beef Steak and Huon Salmon Fillet and treated ourselves with a house made Cheesecake served with Bruny Pinot Cherry compote and ice-cream to finish. They also serve platters, tapas and gourmet burgers with wines to match.
Dinner was at Hotel Bruny. The cheerful and hardworking owner of this much-loved pub, has created an ace spot where diners can feast on local produce while taking in the view of the great bay. What sets these Tasmanian pubs apart is the opportunity for their chefs to play with supremely fresh, local produce. I mean, where else can you get a chicken parmigiana made from local free-range chicken and Bruny Island cheese? I’m so pleased to see how popular this pub is, to know the patrons are not only having a lovely meal and getting a real taste of Bruny Island, but that they’re also supporting local producers. That’s something to toast your glass of Tasmanian wine to. Cheers!
Not wanting to miss out on another beautiful Bruny morning, we woke early and headed to the northern tip of the island, Dennes Point. Strolling the pier and cove, chatting with a flock of local birds and playing “˜which holiday house would you buy? was a lovely way to ease into our last day on the island.
Come 10 o’clock when the Jetty Café and General Store opened, we devoured a delicious breakfast of kale and tarragon pancakes with a fried egg, bacon, preserved lemon and dukkah. This café has a small menu but outstanding options, skillfully crafted with beautiful local produce. The prune and brandy brownie, which I begrudgingly shared with my husband, had me swooning. I am going on the record here to say that this is why chocolate wins the dessert game. Because of food like that brownie.
If you only have time for one activity on Bruny Island, make sure you get out of your car and walk or climb stairs and hike to a high point and gaze at the mountains and water before you leave. Feel like an explorer and savour that moment, take it with you when you leave. You’ll find stellar views at both The Neck and Cape Bruny Lighthouse. Then, if you’re lucky and blessed with loud sunshine or if you’re ballsy and don’t care, go for a swim. Get dunked by waves and celebrate the fact that you’re here, in the ocean, at the very edge of the world. It’s a special place, Bruny Island.
Dinner on our last night on Bruny was a celebration of Tasmanian produce. We baked Bruny Island “˜Otto’ cheese (wrapped in prosciutto) and served it with roadside plucked asparagus and nectarines grilled to sweetness, alongside a pile of toasted Summer Kitchen Bakery Bread from Ranelagh in the Huon Valley and washed down with Bruny Island wine, amid frequent sighs of appreciation. It was a meal replete with local flavour, the perfect way to celebrate our visit to this abundant region of Tasmania.
Holidays are for indulging, restoring your reserves and exploring the land before you. Tasmania ticks all those boxes and then passes you a cider.
Recipe: Bruny Island Produce Platter
Bake your Bruny Island “˜Otto’ cheese (or alternatively find a nice soft, fudgy, pungent cheese and wrap it in prosciutto yourself) in a hot 200 degrees Celsius oven until oozing and bubbling (about 20 minutes). Meanwhile cook thin slices of nectarine in a bit of butter in a non-stick pan until golden and caramelised. Steam or grill your asparagus spears and toast thin slices of bread then plate it all up and dive in. Olives, fresh tomato, caramelized onions and the Bruny Island House of Whisky hot smoked salmon would be splendid accompaniments.