Bay of Fires Eco Tours

Lichen
Bay of Fires Eco Tours
Bay of Fires Eco Tours © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

On a sunny, calm day, we took to the seas in the exquisite Bay of Fires on Infurneaux. The sole ship in the Bay of Fires Eco Tours fleet, it is luxurious! The seats are very comfy, which doesn’t sound too important, but it will be once you’ve been sitting for three hours! We were provided with warm, waterproof jackets.

Bay of Fires Eco Tours
Bay of Fires Eco Tours © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

To prepare for your journey, limit your cups of tea beforehand! I had one too many and needed to use the loo on board. While I can now tick that off my bucket list, it’s probably best if you don’t need to use it at all! Another thing that you need to be aware of is that, while it might be a hot day on the sand, it’s always much colder out on the water. Wear layers (lovely Tasmanian merino is a great idea) but don’t wear a hat as it may end up overboard. If you think that your head might get cold, wear a hooded jacket or jumper. Even though the boat has a canopy, I would also recommend wearing sunscreen due to the sun, wind and spray. If you experience sea-sickness, see my Bruny Island Cruises post for tips from the Ancient Mariner (Dad).

Aboriginal Midden, Jeanneret Beach
Aboriginal Midden, Jeanneret Beach © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Your journey through the Bay of Fires will take you up the coast, showing you a range of beaches and sites. The Aboriginal midden (bone and shell heap) at the end of Jeanneret Beach is enormous and it’s a privilege to see it from offshore. You’ll also have a few opportunities to take stellar photographs of the lichen-covered granite rocks from the sea. Our guide paused to show us various bird life, including a gorgeous sea eagle and several black-crested cormorants. We sailed very close to Sloop Rock (named so because it looks like a ship rising up out of the water). This rock plunges 18 metres down to the ocean floor and is quite a sight to behold. The best part of the tour, in my opinion, is seeing Mount William National Park. The park is quite hard to get to so it was very special to see Anson’s Bay, the Park’s pristine beaches, Bay of Fires Lodge, Eddystone Point Lighthouse and Mount William itself from the water.

 

Eddystone Point Lighthouse
Eddystone Point Lighthouse © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

At larapuna (the Aboriginal name for the area where Eddystone Point Lighthouse stands), you’ll have the opportunity for a complimentary biscuit and a fabulous photo of the Lighthouse and the Keeper’s Cottages. After this, you’ll take to the open waters in search of wildlife.

 

Shy Albatross
Shy Albatross © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

We saw three shy albatross (one of which wasn’t shy at all and posed for several pictures!) on the return journey. These birds are beautiful. We also encountered a lone seal who was a bit annoyed that we were interrupting his meal. Pufferfish, anyone? It was then a lovely boat-ride, with only a pot-hole or two, back to base.

Brown Fur Seal
Brown Fur Seal © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

 

Getting There

Titley's Shack, Binalong Bay
Titley’s Shack, Binalong Bay © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

For instructions on how to get to the Bay of Fires, read my post about the region. Once you’ve made it to St. Helens, follow signs for Binalong Bay and then drive along the coast, past Moresco Restaurant, until you reach Titley’s Shack on the left (look for Bay of Fires Eco Tours signage).

 

Cost

Sloop Rock
Sloop Rock © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

As for similar cruises in Tasmania such as Bruny Island Cruises (you can read about my experience here), adults cost $135, children (5-years-old and above) cost $85 and a family costs $380. There are two shorter afternoon cruises which cost slightly less. It would be fabulous to see the small seal colony at St. Helens Island and I am considering doing this tour in the future. I recommend doing the full Bay of Fires tour instead of The Gardens tour, if time permits. Seeing Eddystone Point Lighthouse is well worth it!

To read about my other journeys on Tasmania’s stunning east coast, click here.

Bruny Island

Traversing Bruny Island

Bruny Island lies off the coast of Southern Tasmania, about half an hour’s drive south of Hobart. It is roughly 100 kilometres long and boasts some of Tasmania’s finest produce, wilderness and attractions.

View from The Neck
View from The Neck © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

The island is divided into two halves: North Bruny and South Bruny. The ferry from Kettering (mainland Tasmania) arrives at Roberts Point on North Bruny. There are small settlements at the beautiful Dennes Point and Barnes Bay (follow signs from the ferry terminal). If you keep driving south, you’ll end up at the cheese factory, oyster bar and scenic flight base. Once you’ve passed these places, you will arrive at a thin strip of land joining North and South Bruny: The Neck.

The Neck
The Neck © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

It is worth stopping at The Neck, even if you’ve been to Bruny Island before. Climb the wooden stairs and see the ever-changing view of Bruny. You should also read the information about the original inhabitants of Bruny Island such as Truganini. If you are at The Neck at dusk, stop and watch the penguins emerging from the water. Take a red-light torch for optimal viewing without disturbing the penguins too much and make sure that you keep to the paths rather than damaging the penguins’ burrows.

Adventure Bay
Adventure Bay © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Heading south from The Neck, you have choices! You could turn left to Adventure Bay. This is a beautiful, sweeping bay with stellar views, a caravan park and a nice little café (The Penguin). You can also catch a Pennicott Wilderness Journeys’ Bruny Island Cruises tour from Adventure Bay (read about my experience here) or you can walk to the ruins of the whaling station at Grass Point. There is a general store with an ATM at Adventure Bay.

Cloudy Bay Lagoon
Cloudy Bay Lagoon © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

If, instead, you turn left after The Neck, you’ll find your way to Alonnah and Lunawunna. lunawunna allonnah is the Aboriginal name for Bruny Island. At Alonnah, Hotel Bruny has a lovely view and serves a fine meal, happily catering for dietary requirements upon request. There is also a general store and History Room at Alonnah. After driving through Lunawunna, you have two choices. You can turn left towards Cloudy Bay for excellent camping and surfing, as well as access to South Bruny National Park. Or, you can turn right towards Cape Bruny Lighthouse (you can read about my experiences here), as well as access to another part of South Bruny National Park.

Barnes Bay
Barnes Bay © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Wherever you choose to be on Bruny, you can expect good food, superb scenery and space to relax. Make sure that you check opening hours as some places vary their hours seasonally. Take a good book, a bit of cash, a full tank of petrol and clothes for all seasons and you’ll have a lovely time.

Getting There

Mirambeena
Mirambeena © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

If you have a car, simply take the vehicle ferry from Kettering. The current timetable is available here; make sure that you arrive 30 minutes prior to your scheduled departure and that you bring cash or a payWave capable card (EFTPOS or credit cards requiring pins/signatures cannnot be used). While petrol is available at some locations on Bruny, fill your car up before you venture over for maximum relaxation time. Hire cars can be problematic. Some hire car companies won’t allow you to drive their vehicles on Bruny Island due to the amount of dirt roads and consequent traffic incidents involving inexperienced drivers. Your GPS system may also cut out as phone reception has “black spots” on Bruny Island. Everything is well sign-posted though. If you’d prefer not to take a car onto Bruny, book a tour with one of the local companies.

Cost

Bruny Island's southern tip
Bruny Island’s southern tip © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Getting to Bruny currently costs $33 per car (prices are seasonal and dependent on vehicle size; click here for current rates). Food, supplies, fuel etc. are all reasonably priced, considering that you’re on a small island, but accommodation can be a bit expensive. You’re paying for the privilege of staying on Bruny. It’s a unique, unforgettable island and is well worth a visit… and another visit… and another…

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

Cape Bruny Lighthouse

Traversing Cape Bruny Lighthouse
Cape Bruny
Cape Bruny © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Cape Bruny Lighthouse is a sturdy yet elegant lighthouse. Due to being made from sterner stuff than other historic lighthouses, it now boasts being the second oldest original lighthouse in Australia. It was Australia’s fourth lighthouse at its time of lighting in 1838. Constructed by convicts from local dolerite, the lighthouse took just 18 months to build. The three keepers cottages still sit below it, as does a graveyard, the ruins of a convict vegetable garden and some of the best scenery in the world.

Cape Bruny Lighthouse
Cape Bruny Lighthouse © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Cape Bruny Lighthouse is a monument to times gone by. Now replaced by an automated light on the tip of the cape, the old lighthouse was recently restored internally and opened to the public for tours. You can book a tour online or at the base of the lighthouse on the day. Tours go up the tower every half hour. We had a private tour, which was lovely. The guide was friendly and knowledgeable. His boss grew up in various lighthouses around the state as the child of one of Tasmania’s last lighthouse keepers.

Fresnel prism
Fresnel prism © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Inside, you’ll find a beautiful metal spiral staircase, the original Fresnel prism, kerosene vents, the weight system used for keeping the light revolving and a working phone to the keeper’s cottage. You end up circling the lighthouse on its balcony. We saw a wedge-tail eagle from above (they have a stunning pattern on their wings which you can’t see from the ground). It is breathtaking to view the D’Entrecasteaux Channel, the Southern Ocean and the southern tip of Bruny Island from above.

Cape Bruny
Cape Bruny © emily@traversingtasmania 2017
The Lighthouse Station
The Lighthouse Station © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Once you are on the ground again, enter the museum for a glimpse of the machinery that made it all happen. The museum also houses artefacts found on site (ceramics, name plates, etc.). From the left-hand side of the Number 1 Keepers Cottage, take a walk down to the beach, past a small graveyard and the ruins of a convict garden. The Tasmanian flora in South Bruny National Park is magnificent. Watch out for my least favourite of all Tasmanian fauna: the Tasmanian Tiger snake. If you do come across one, make a decision to run or stand very still and make sure that you commit to your decision 100% as half-doing either option is not worth it!

Getting There

Convict Garden
Convict Garden © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

To get to Bruny Island, follow the advice in my Bruny Island post. Drive south from Alonnah, turning right at the T-junction near Lunawanna. Follow signs for Cape Bruny Lighthouse. The road is primarily gravel and is quite rough. There are two scenic lookouts on the way; stop at both. There is parking at the lighthouse although it is only a small carpark so you may have to park alongside the road – don’t block the driveways to the keepers cottages as two of these contain residents (the third is the museum).

Cost

View from the Lighthouse
View from the Lighthouse © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Tours up the lighthouse (highly recommended!) are $10 per adult, $7.50 per child or $35 per family (not suitable for children under 5 years old).  You can book your tickets online here. This is recommended as tours can book out because they are for only eight people at a time. If you do book online, keep your booking number to quote for the guide. For those who arrive at Cape Bruny Lighthouse without a booking, it is worth the half hour wait. The views from the lighthouse are spectacular.

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

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.

Read more about my travels in Tasmania’s south 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.