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.

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

Shot Tower

Traversing the Tower
Shot Tower
Shot Tower © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

When my Dad was a boy, his parents took on the role of caretakers for a landmark Hobart building: the Shot Tower. He used to race his three siblings up and down the tower’s steps. Today, I walked those same steps. Located on a winding, tree-lined stretch of the Channel Highway between the suburbs of Taroona and Kingston, the shot tower is an unexpected sight. Built in 1870 by a Scotsman, Joseph Moir, the tower has an unusual history.

Inside the Tower
Inside the Tower © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

The Shot Tower was constructed in order to make lead shot (ammunition). Molten shot was poured through a colander from varying heights (to create different sizes of shot) into a tub of water below. The largest shot used at the time could be created by pouring molten lead from a height of 150 feet. Joseph Moir, the Shot Tower’s owner-builder, built his tower 149 feet high with landings at various heights. He used stone from a nearby abandoned convict probation station and took on many roles as part of the construction process, with the assistance of two stone masons. The tower took eight months to build. After this, Moir had to experiment with the shot-making process; his unique recipe remains unknown. The Shot Tower operated for 35 years, run by Moir or members of his family, until making shot became unaffordable. A series of caretakers have preserved the history of the tower (including members of my own family) and it is now operated by Parks and Wildlife. Why visit the Shot Tower? Three reasons: history, beauty and mathematics.

Inside the Tower
Inside the Tower © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

The Shot Tower was Australia’s first shot tower, is the tallest such tower in the southern hemisphere and is the only sandstone shot tower in the world that is still standing. It is well worth a photograph! Once inside the building, take the time to look at the small but intriguing display at the base of the tower. You’ll see three sewing machines for making shot bags, a cabinet containing various sizes of shot recovered from the site, an explanation of the shot-making process and Joseph Moir’s desk, among other things. Inside the tower actual, you can climb the stairs down to the base of the tower and/or climb to the top. The bricks are gorgeous; be sure to admire the structure as you walk, including the tower’s tapering walls and the views through slits in the walls.

View, Storm Bay
View Towards Storm Bay © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

At the top of the tower, you’ll find one of the original cauldrons used to melt the lead before you step outside and take in the astonishing view of the Derwent River. A viewing platform allows you to walk around the tower and it’s a view that is well worth the climb! For children and for those who are just plain interested in how many steps high the tower is, count the steps is a must. I missed count on the way up as I stopped to take too many photos and I’m not convinced that I counted correctly on the way down either so you won’t be getting any stair numbers from me!

Counting Down
Counting Down © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Cost

Shot Tower Entry
Shot Tower Entry © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Entry to the Shot Tower costs approximately $8 per adult and $4 per child. Children under 4 are free. Everyone who climbs to the top receives a souvenir sticker and you can purchase more souvenirs from the gift shop located at the base of the tower. There are tea rooms and toilets on site. The tower is open from 9am – 5pm every day of the year except for Christmas Day.

Getting There

View, Derwent River
View, Derwent River © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Drive from Hobart through Sandy Bay (on Sandy Bay Road), past the Alexander Battery, and you’ll wind your way into Taroona. It is a beautiful suburb that has embraced its history, the surrounding bushland and its river views. We stopped at The Picnic Basket, a cafe that has the honour of being the best petrol station conversion that I’ve seen yet! It’s worth a stop just to admire how they’ve zoned and decorated the site. Once you’ve had your cuppa, keep driving on the main road through Taroona and you’ll eventually see the shot tower (you can’t miss it). Enjoy standing at the top of Australia’s first shot tower and seeing one of Australia’s most beautiful views!

Yesterday, I visited the Australian Wooden Boat Festival. For more posts about Tasmania’s south, click here.

The Australian Wooden Boat Festival 2017

Traversing the Australian Wooden Boat Festival
Constitution Dock, Australian Wooden Boat Festival
Constitution Dock © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Every two years, Hobart’s waterfront comes alive with tall ships, wooden sail boats, floating musicians, seafood, nautically-themed theatre, boat building displays, model ships and punters wearing hats bearing slogans such as “Ancient Mariner” (my Dad, wearing a hat that I gave him a few years ago!). The Australian Wooden Boat Festival is my favourite event on Tasmania’s festival calendar for several reasons.

The Boats

Young Endeavour, Australian Wooden Boat Festival
Young Endeavour © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

There is something awe-inspiring about stepping aboard a beautifully crafted and lovingly restored boat, especially when she has travelled half-way around the world to be there. Today, I boarded (for free! Thank you!) the Young Endeavour, the Australian Navy’s showpiece sailing boat, and she was magnificent: decks swabbed, ropes coiled, fixtures gleaming, masts soaring into the sky. I highly recommend that you have a look at her tomorrow if you can or, if you are young enough, consider applying to be a volunteer crew member. It really would be an experience of a lifetime!

The Buzz

The Music Shed, Sullivans Cove,
The Music Shed, Sullivans Cove © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

There is something for everyone at The Australian Wooden Boat Festival. Old-salties sit aboard their ships, sharing stories with the neighbours. Boat builders skillfully demonstrate their craft (check out the perfectly finished boat-like folding tables near the Waterside Pavillion). Students hammer boats together, ready for the “Quick ‘n Dirty Boat Challenge” race on Sunday at Kings Pier (watch it: it is very entertaining, particularly if a boat doesn’t quite pass muster…). Children are treated to a variety of performers on Parliament House Lawns. Best of all, you can wander past the boats with a drink in one hand and an icecream in the other, looking out across the water at boats in full sail (or back through the rigging of the tall ships towards the mountain), listening to the music echoing across the water from whatever watercraft they’ve built for the band. This year, it’s a shed. Last time, it was a dingy with an in-built piano!

The Exhibits

Model Boats, Australian Wooden Boat Festival
Model Boats © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

I have always been fascinated by model boats, and not just the pretty ones. While there is, sadly, a much smaller model boat display at this year’s festival, my favourites are still there: the huon pine boat baby cradle, the freighter, the tugboats and the model Enterprize. This year, the model boats are located in the Waterside Pavillion. You can also board many of the tall ships (for a fee) or even sail on them (for a larger fee). Another brilliant exhibition is the Water Ways exhibit in Salamanca’s Long Gallery. You’ll find paintings of the tall ships and Tasmanian waterways, as well as sculptural pieces, all by local artists. You can vote for your favourite piece in the People’s Choice Award and can enter a raffle for an atmospheric Roger Imms painting. On the way to the Long Gallery, pop in to Nutpatch Chocolates, the iconic Kettering store with a brand new (opened three days ago!) waterfront location at the Murray Street Pier.

Cost

Tall Ships, Elizabeth St Pier, Australian Wooden Boat Festival
Tall Ships, Elizabeth St Pier © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Entry to the Australian Wooden Boat Festival is FREE. Excellent! You’ll need a bit of cash handy for the food stalls and for entry onto the tall ships (this is only available at certain times of the day). For more information and to download the festival program, see the the Australian Wooden Boat Festival’s website.

Getting There

Young Endeavour, Australian Wooden Boat Festival
Young Endeavour © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

The Australian Wooden Boat Festival is located in Hobart. The festival stretches from the Princes Wharf around to Victoria Dock and it is well worth seeing everything (wear comfortable shoes!). Parking is tricky as the Hobart Regatta takes place on the same long weekend but you can park for approximately $8 on the Regatta Grounds, for free on the Queens Domain if you don’t mind a walk or you can pay to park in a multistorey car park (if you can remember to get your car out before the car-park closes!). Once you’ve parked,  wander down to the docks and enjoy my favourite Tasmanian festival!

For more posts about Tasmania’s south, click here.