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Traipsing Around Tasmania: Episode 2


AE5F2FE6-730A-4466-99B5-BC01D4ECAF19.jpegWe had heard lots about Bruny Island, just off the south coast of Tasmania from Jim’s family, who camped there and from others, so it was on our list of Tassie places to see. There are other islands, Maria Island off the east coast, all national park and a reserve for threatened species, and King and Flinders Islands in the Bass Strait that we would also have liked to visit but Bruny Island was all we had time for and a chance encounter in the Melbourne airport introduced us to a new novel by a Tasmanian writer, called Bruny, set on Bruny Island so Bruny it would be.


Bruny is a mainly holiday homes and camping island so finding accommodation at short notice in peak season just for 3 days was difficult and when Orchard Suite popped up on Air BnB, located in the small coastal community of Woodbridge, just a short drive to the ferry to Bruny, we thought that seemed like a good compromise and we would just do a day trip to Bruny.

We drove south from Launceston and back through Hobart to Woodbridge on the south coast. Orchard Suite and Woodbridge, like our Launceston accommodation and neighbourhood was a total delight. The landscape got progressively greener - more rain falls here - and the rolling hills with small farms, orchards and vineyards were so lovely.


Orchard Suite turned out to be a pristine, modern self-contained studio suite connected to the beautiful main house by a glassed-over deck. In addition to the lovely interior, the view from the deck and the big windows was breathtaking. We overlooked a stunning garden and lawn that sloped down to an orchard and ponds of the big, rural property and then sloped up to green rolling hills with the turquoise waters of the ocean in the distance.


The landscape also included a constantly shifting ensemble of domestic animals and wildlife - chickens, ducks and a goose; native Tasmanian bush hens that are hilariously similar to roadrunners (and very noisy), wallabies and parrots. We settled in with appies and drinks on our little deck to watch the entertainment. We were so glad we borrowed our nephew’s binoculars!


Breakfast provisions were also included - eggs, cheese, yogurt, muesli, a loaf of homemade bread, butter, jam - and chocolate. Happy campers we!

The next day we caught the first ferry from nearby Kettering for the 1/2 hour trip to Bruny. As we now spend so much time on our own BC ferries, it’s always interesting to ride others. This one was similar to Saltspring’s Skeena Queen, designed to carry as many cars as possible but with a second car deck.


It was a direct shot to the ferry terminal on North Bruny - nothing else really there except a small cafe and a guy selling bags of local cherries in a landscape of dry golden fields with gum trees. Bruny is basically two islands, North and South Bruny connected by a long sandy isthmus, 89,000 acres. We headed to South Bruny and drove around almost everywhere.


Cloudy Bay is a stunning curve of sand about 7 km long and national park. We were surprised that you can actually drive on the sand and people camp on the beach at the far end. We encountered a couple who biked the whole beach. Nice! And the loo there had a lovely window with a view to the beach.


Bruny has a population of about 600. Even with a ferry that scoots back and forth about every half hour, development is limited we were told by the fact that the island has no water. Everyone has tanks for catchment and I guess water delivery when no rain falls. There is a lot of grazing land and dry eucalyptus forest with some inland logging. The island was inhabited by aborigines until European arrival but there is apparently a large community there that identify as aboriginal. There were a number of whaling stations there up until 1850 and along with logging, whaling was the main industry. It would likely not have looked as pretty then as it did when we visited.

We came upon an interesting historical site along one road, Two Tree Point where Cook and his two ships stayed in a bay in Jan 1777 and 1788 and again in 1792, William Bligh was also there to take on water from the creek. Bligh’s shipboard artist painted the site and it apparently looks much as it did then with the original two trees.


Now a holiday location with beautiful surfing and swimming beaches, tourism is a growing industry on Bruny and there are some interesting local businesses to visit. We had a fabulous oyster lunch at Get Shucked, which claims to have the only drive-thru oyster bar and visited the Bruny cheese factory, restaurant and wine bar.


Back at our little Orchard Suite, I went for a long walk in the hills around our neighbourhood.


Coming back along the coastal road, I passed a sign for “Doughboy Pizza” pointing into the little waterfront park. I discovered a tent setup with a wood fired pizza oven and a regular Friday night community event. As we had no dinner plans, we headed down and joined the throng of locals sitting at picnic tables or on the lawn and had a great pizza gazing out to Bruny Island where we had just spent our day.


Our second day was spend driving west along the D’Entrecasteaux Channel on the Channel Highway (highway being a big exaggeration) to the delightful town of Cygnet, in the heart of the fruit-growing region. This was the most alternative colourful little enclave we have seen on our trip and was filled with old and young hipsters and back-to-the-landers and probably tech geeks. Lots of cafes and art galleries on its one main street and knitted installation art everywhere. Tasmania’s main folk, world and roots a festival happens here each year in early January. We just missed it.


Heading further north along the Huon River, we drove through Huonville, an unimpressive town, in apple country and circled back through Kingston, sadly missing the village of Franklin on the other side of the river which sounds worth a visit.

To the south and west of us was a vast area of wilderness and national parks full of rivers, lakes and mountains with only a few roads bisecting them. Our guide book says “Few places on earth are as untamed as the glaciated scenery of the west and southwest. It has one of the world’s great temperate rainforests, in places more impenetrable than the Amazon and probably never visited by man. It has some of the tallest hardwood trees on earth - giant swamp gums nearly 90 m high and Huon pines on one of the last wild rivers in Australia, the Franklin, one estimated to be 10,000 years old. After an epic battle over damming a river here in the 1980’s, nearly all of the west and southwest is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.” This includes Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park and Southwest National Park. We would love to have seen some of this area too, staying in Strahan on the Macquarie Harbour but alas, we were out of time.

We had one more mission before we left Woodbridge and that was to eat at the highly recommended Peppermint Bay Restaurant, considered one of Tasmania’s culinary highlights, just down the hill from our AirBnB. We had a beautiful lunch, visually and taste-wise sitting outside in the sun looking across to Bruny Island. Jim had octopus with a sea urchin foam and I had a very delicious fave, pea and white bean salad and a lovely tart.


We wandered around Woodbridge for awhile before and after lunch, reluctant to leave this sweet, friendly and picturesque little community. Woodbridge has some lovely buildings dating from the late 1800’s and was named after an Englishman’s home town in Suffolk. One such well-preserved building is the community hall and across from that is the Woodbridge Corner Store with a great little cafe (with scones of course!) that we had already investigated. Run by a lovely couple who relocated from Brisbane, it clearly functions as a community gathering place. They served their flat whites in these great cups made from recycled coconut shells. Other than a couple of small shops and cluster of 5 Little Libraries, that’s about it for the centre of Woodbridge.


However, just down the road was an amazing little bistro to be found at the end of a dirt farm road. In fact, it is part of the farm and much of the food served is sourced from the big garden and fields that the restaurant overlooks. I had a piece of the best carrot cake ever and you can take a sculpture walk through the fields and orchards. There was also a great cheese place with a cafe but we had to give that a miss to head back along the coast to Hobart where we would spend our last two nights on Tassie and to a day trip to the very mysterious and intriguing Museum of New Art! Next blog.


Posted by Jenniferklm 07:46 Archived in Australia

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