Melbourne-based writer and journalist. Purveyor of finally crafted radio plays. A Muppet of a man.
Bruny Island is deceptively close to Hobart – spend forty minutes driving south, then around ninety minutes stuffing around getting your car over on the local ferry. It’s a rugged little place but big enough to keep you driving for most of the day in a misguided Jules Verne-esque attempt to see everything it has to offer – which isn’t going to happen.
So what are the highlights, I hear you ask? There’s a few well-regarded produce-related businesses around the place, an isthmus with a worthy view, some great coastal scenery, and a lighthouse in the far south which we didn’t end up getting to.
Bruny Island cheese has a reputation as a highlight, and provides an admirable range of cheeses from ‘hard smelly’ right through to ‘tastes like an unwashed wet jumper’ cheese. I gather with cheese that this is a good thing. There’s a smoke house, a strawberry-picking place, a fudge place, and a few other bits and pieces that you tend to stop at when you’re over thirty, sample, and cast judgement upon.
Particular mention needs to be made of the Hot House Cafe, a little place on the side of the hill that prepared more food than we could eat for a decent priced lunch platter – including excellent herb damper which I couldn’t leave uneaten.
Amongst a number of walking tracks is one that takes you right along the isthmus, being a fancy word for those of us who have a Geography degree for a tiny strip of natural land joining two islands – in this case North Bruny and South Bruny.
The walk is named after Truganini, an Aboriginal who was born on Bruny Island. She was considered to have been the last full-blooded Aboriginal in Tasmania, and had, like many other Aboriginals on the island, a rather sad life and death in the hands of settlers. A nearby plaque explained how most of her family members were killed in brutal ways, how she was mistreated, and how after her death her remains were dug up and put on display in a museum. All of this was commemorated in a walk up hillside with a picturesque view, complete with penguins if you’re hanging around at the right time.
Finally, I feel the need to mention the Bligh Museum on Bruny Island, one of those strange little brick buildings dedicated to obscure collections that occasionally persuade you to pull over for a brief segue from a long drive. Perched on the side of Adventure Bay, the museum is named after officer of the British Royal Navy William Bligh, who anchored in the area a number of years ago, as did a number of other notable explorers such as James Cook and Matthew Flinders.
It is these explorers that the museum is dedicated to. The contents consisting of a collection of plans, manuscripts and photographs covering the lives of anyone notable who seems to have visited Bruny. I paid my entry fee and wandered around the room, looking at through the display cases at the relics within.
The older bloke who looked after the place seemed happy to be able to show off his collection, which as well as some authentic documents and interesting books, includes a lot of photographs of interesting objects in other museums. I couldn’t see the anchor from Cook’s ship, for example, but I could see a photo of it on display at another museum. But, as the old bloke informed me tapping his nose, they’re old photographs.
For more travel exploits, check out the short e-book Matt Smith’s Thailand Diary, available for the bargain price of 99c from the Amazon book store.