Bruny Island Cruises

Bruny Island Cruises

Have you ever been to Macquarie Island? It’s Tasmania’s southern-most island, located in Antarctic waters. If you have visited, consider yourself very honoured! If, like me, you haven’t, I imagine that Pennicott Wilderness Journeys’ Bruny Island Cruises are the next best thing.

Dolphins in Adventure Bay
Dolphins © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

The Ancient Mariner (Dad, in the same cap!), my husband and I all boarded a yellow, open-sided boat in Adventure Bay on Bruny Island. We donned our red water-resistant capes (more like dresses! You penguin-walk in them!). We listened to safety instructions and duly took our (free) ginger tablets to prevent seasickness. We laughed at the captain’s jokes (which were actually good) and then chugged out further into Adventure Bay where, without even leaving the bay, we saw a pod of dolphins.

Dolerite Cliffs
Dolerite Cliffs © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Most people would be thrilled to see dolphins, especially the young ones who, according to our captain, were very near newborn. On a Bruny Island Cruises journey, you’ll probably also get to see penguins, seals, eagles, cormorants, an albatross or too (not the Great Albatross though) and so many different types of birds that you can’t remember their names… we did! And it’s not just the wildlife that makes the journey astonishing.

The Monument
The Monument © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

As you travel south along the coast of Bruny Island from Adventure Bay towards The Friars, you’ll encounter the second-tallest cliffs in the southern hemisphere, spectacular dolerite formations such as The Monument, skeletal trees burnt by the 1967 fires, passages through the rocks (our captain even nosed into it for us!), dolerite cliffs, various varieties of seaweed and several sea caves. Breathing Rock, as it is fondly called by the locals, is one such cave. In the shape of an A, it sucks water in and then pushes air out in a magnificent spout.

Breathing Rock
Breathing Rock © emily@traversingtasmania 2017
Seals at The Friars
Seals © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Further south, the landscape changes. There are no trees, just scrub clinging to the earth, bracing against the Southern Ocean. Here is a smattering of rocky islands and a strange smell: seals. A haul-out of seals (males only) lazes on the ledges of The Friars, occasionally stirring to look at us, fight another seal, toilet, or nose-dive awkwardly down the rocks before slipping gracefully into the water. It’s a spectacular sight (and smell!) and the trip is worth the cost just to see the seals alone! The captain, as he has done at previous locations, makes sure that both sides of the boat have ample opportunity to take photos.

The Friars
The Friars © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Out at sea for the return journey, we see several albatross. They are smaller than their Great Albatross counterparts but are just as graceful. The spray kicks up a bit and Dad realizes that the capes are water-resistant, not waterproof. I’m warm in my waterproof pants and merino layers. After a few rounds of biscuits (savoury then sweet), we’re back in Adventure Bay, cold and tired yet elated!

What to Bring

Bruny Island Cruises
Bruny Island Cruises © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Obviously, you’re going to need a camera. Make it as waterproof as possible when you’re not using it and hold tightly to it (no one is going to search for your camera at the base of a dolerite cliff pounded with waves!). You’ll also need warm clothes. No matter what the land temperature, it is COLD at sea, particularly when you get a little wet. Wear warm layers, a scarf, beanie and gloves and make sure that you have something waterproof on (such as a raincoat). Your red cape (provided) will accommodate a lot of bulk underneath. I also recommend closed in shoes (warmer) but take care as some materials, such as leather, don’t like salt water. As far as seasickness goes, Dad and I have had bouts in the past but didn’t on this particular voyage. The Ancient Mariner’s tried and tested tips are:

  • Take seasickness medication at least half an hour before departure
  • Eat ginger (take the two ginger tablets offered at the start of the journey by the crew)
  • Look at the horizon whenever possible (looking at the photo on your phone or a seal in the water might seem like a good idea at the time…)
  • Stay hydrated
  • Eat small amounts

It worked for us!

Getting There

Adventure Bay
Adventure Bay © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

To get to Bruny Island, follow the advice in my Bruny Island post. Once on Bruny Island, head to Adventure Bay (turn off just south of The Neck) and drive along the waterfront (main road) until you see the yellow signs for the car park. Walk a further 20 metres or so to the café and reception area. Make sure that you arrive half an hour beforehand so that you can use the facilities (there is an emergency toilet on the boat) and hear the safety briefing. If you would like transport to Bruny Island, you can choose a tour option which includes a bus from Kettering (where the ferry leaves mainland Tasmania) or a bus from Hobart. This is more expensive but, if it means that you can do a Pennicott Wilderness Journeys’ Bruny Island Cruises tour, it’s worth it.

Cost

Seals at The Friars
Seals at The Friars © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Tickets for the three-hour tour are $135 per adult, $85 per child or $430 per family (Note: children under 3 years old can’t travel on the boat). This is the same price per adult as similar journeys in other parts of Tasmania (e.g. Bay of Fires). Tours depart Adventure Bay at 11am each day and you should book online beforehand via the Pennicott Wilderness Journeys website. Two boats went out for our tour; they will try to accommodate your booking if possible but advance online booking is the best way to guarantee your seat. There is also a shorter two-and-a-half-hour tour for $120 per adult in the afternoon, leaving Adventure Bay at 2pm (over the summer). Either way, I highly recommend the experience. Seeing hundreds of seals piled up on rocky ledges at the edge of the roaring Southern Ocean is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

To read more about my travels in Tasmania’s south, click here.

Hazelbrae Nut Farm

Traversing Hazelbrae
Great Western Tiers
Great Western Tiers © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Have you ever driven between Launceston and Devonport and seen the signs for Hazelbrae Nut Farm? Next time you drive past, exit the highway! You will encounter a working hazelnut farm and a fabulous view. Formerly a dairy farm, the hazelnut orchards were planted by the previous owners. Now 5000 trees strong, the current owners have diversified the farm’s offerings, including opening the Hazelbrae Nut Farm Cafe.

Hazelbrae Nut Farm Cafe
Hazelbrae Nut Farm Cafe © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

The best thing about the cafe is undeniably the view. The food is tasty and well-presented, but what could beat the outlook from the deck? While you’re sipping your hazelnut cappuccino, you have the privilege of sitting back and taking in the orchard, the brilliant blue sky and the Great Western Tiers.

The Gardens
The Gardens © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

If you’re like me and you think that $5 for a garden tour is just not worth paying, think again. The homestead dates back to the 1800s and the surrounding gardens are like something from The Secret Garden. The former grandeur of the gardens is apparent despite their current state of overgrowth. Parts of the gardens are very well kept, such as the area around the homestead. In various nooks, you can sit and take in the peaceful atmosphere.

At the end of March, you will be able to collect your own hazelnuts from the orchard, which is quite a unique experience! You’ll pay a discounted rate for the nuts you collect. Keep an eye on Hazelbrae Hazelnut’s Facebook page for more information.

Getting There

The Homestead
The Homestead © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Hazelbrae Nut Farm is located at Hagley, 50 minutes’ drive south from Devonport or 25 minutes’ drive north from Launceston. Take the Hagley exit from the Bass Highway and follow signs for Hagley Station Lane. If you’re driving from Launceston, turn left onto Hagley Station Lane when you exit the highway.

Cost

Hazelnut Affogato
Hazelnut Affogato © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

There is no cost for the view. At the cafe, food and drinks are reasonably priced and you can buy delicious hazelnut produce, including hazelnut oil, hazelnut meal and chocolate-coated roasted hazelnuts. Take a guided tour and tasting for $15 or you can skip the tour and just do the tasting for $7. An orchard pass or a garden pass cost $5 each. Children under 12 are free. Next time you’re driving between Launceston and Devonport, take the time to relax at Hazelbrae Nut Farm!

For more information about places to visit in Tasmania’s north, click here.

Rupertswood Farm Crop Maze

Traversing Rupertswood Farm
View of Great Western Tiers
View of Great Western Tiers © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

There is something nostalgically delightful about walking through a crop maze. Towering stalks obscure your view and you’re a child again…. until the beating sun and your sore feet prompt you to open the sealed map envelope and complete the rest of Rupertswood Farm Crop Maze as fast as you can!

Rupertswood Farm Crop Maze
Rupertswood Farm Crop Maze © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Each year, Rupertswood Farm in Hagley turns one of their crops into a maze. This year, it’s a field of corn; last year, it was sorghum. Each maze is created using a GPS mapping system. In 2017, the maze is a giant map of Tasmania and your task is to find various Tasmanian locations. Some of the places are featured already featured on the Traversing Tasmania blog, such as Low Head, and other locations will be featured soon!

Signpost
Signpost © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

The maze takes about two hours to complete, unless you use the map right from the start. This means that you’ll need to take water and food into the maze with you (or take an exit out for lunch before finishing the rest of the maze!) as well as wearing a hat and applying plenty of sunscreen. If you have small children with you, it is possible to take prams into the maze but there are many corn stalks on the ground to navigate over. There is a tower scaffold from which you can view the maze, the farm and the stunning Great Western Tiers.

Getting There

Rupertswood Farm
Rupertswood Farm © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Rupertswood Farm is a 50 minute drive from Devonport and a 25 minute drive from Launceston. Take the exit from the Bass Highway to Hagley and then follow signs for Hagley Station Lane (if you are driving from Launceston, turn right onto Hagley Station Lane when you exit the highway). The entry to Rupertswood Farm Crop Maze is signposted. There is ample parking on site, as well as toilet facilities. The maze is open for three more weekends this year (the remaining weekends in March, including the Monday of the long weekend) from 10am – 4pm.

Cost

Vegetables
Vegetables © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

In 2017, the cost to enter the maze is $15 per adult, $10 per senior or child (children under 4 are free) and $55 per family. This includes a bag of “pick your own” veggies (pumpkins are an extra $5 each), entry to the maze and a maze leaflet to fill out (with a section to enter into the prize draw). There is hot cooked food ($3 – $12, starring Rupertswood lamb) and drinks for sale. This year, the farm has EFTPOS available but it’s still a good idea to bring cash for food (and pumpkins). For $2, you can also buy a map of the maze, sealed in an envelope. Get the map. You’ll need it.

For more posts about places to visit in Tasmania’s north, click here.

Hillwood Berry Farm

Berry Bowl
Hillwood Berry Farm
Hillwood Berry Farm © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

On a road just off the East Tamar Highway lies an oasis: Hillwood Berry Farm. Amongst the rustling trees and vibrant roses, you’ll find some of the tastiest strawberries you’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. And the best thing? You get to pick them yourself! There are also raspberries, loganberries and red currants to pick.

Providore
Providore © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

For the lazier among us (or those in a hurry to get somewhere else), pre-picked berries are for sale from the cafe, as are many other berry delights. The cafe has expanded its selection to include wines from a neighbouring vineyard and Meander Valley Dairy products. You can also buy  a small selection of delicious Cocobean Chocolate!

Strawberry Path
Strawberry Patch © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Hillwood Berry Farm is a very child-friendly place. It has a giant chess board, a sandpit and a slide, as well as lots of yummy berries to pick! Remember to bring sunscreen and a hat as there isn’t much shade when you’re picking the berries.

Getting There

Hillwood Berry Farm is approximately 20 minutes’ drive north of Launceston on Hillwood Road. This road runs parallel to the East Tamar Highway. There is plenty of onsite parking. Hillwood Berry Farm is open from 9am – 5pm most days of the year (the cafe closes at 4pm).

Cost

Strawberries
Strawberries © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Pick your own berries for $5 (includes one punnet, which is approximately 500g of berries). Berry prices vary but are very reasonable. Cafe and providore items are also reasonably priced. If you are planning to pick your own berries, make sure that you give yourself half an hour to pick and half an hour to enjoy a cup of tea in the shade of one of the giant trees while you eat your own, freshly picked strawberries. Pure bliss!

For more posts about places to visit in Northern Tasmania, click here.