Photographs from Tasmania – Part II: Bruny Island

Part two of the ongoing series featuring photographs from Tasmania, entirely photographed on film.

As you leave the comparatively busy city of Hobart and head out on the highway, three lane roads very soon reduce to become two, and eventually single lane roads. You encounter other cars more seldomly, and the wild takes over. Heading south, some 20 miles or 30 kilometres away from Tasmanias capital city lies Bruny Island, accessible only by a 30 minute ferry ride from the town of Kettering. Several dozen cars are carefully and precisely manoeuvered onto one of two boats, which take visitors across to Bruny every every half hour. It is a cheap and quick ride, and even though the signs ask you to remain in vehicles, people leave their cars to gaze at the sea, feel the force of the wind, and take photographs.

Bruny Island - D'Entrecasteaux Channel

Bruny Island - Ferry

Bruny Island - Great Bay

Technically, Bruny Island is formed by two separate entities connected by an isthmus, a beautiful narrow strip of land with a lookout point an immaculate coast inhabited by a penguin colony. While a little over 350 km2 in size, Bruny stretches almost 100 km in length, and for the most part, there is only a single road heading down. No way to get lost or miss anything. Driving along the Bruny Island road towards the isthmus, you pass the Great Bay on the west, a beautiful coast that turns magical during low tide, which reveals an infinite glistening sandy surface as the water retreats. On top of the isthmus lookout, the wind even for Tasmanian standards, is brutal. Gales strong enough to almost knock over some of the lighter built Asian tourists who, like most, arrive panting at the top after almost 200 steps. With their faces frozen stiff from the wind and very thankful to be wearing windbreaker jackets, tourists snap their must-take panoramic photo and quickly descend back to the warmth of their car, while ‘true Tasmanians’ look far less impressed by the rough conditions. Shorts, a t-shirt, and only a thick ginger beard to protect them from the wind.
On South Bruny the road forks, with the West coast offering stunning views of tiny Satellite Island, opposite Bruny’s main settlement, Alonnah. Continue and you eventually reach South Bruny National Park. Take the road to the East, and you reach famous Adventure Bay.

Bruny Island - The Neck

Bruny Island - Isthmus Beach from Lookout

Bruny Island - The Neck Western Bay

Bruny Island - Near Satellite Island

Bruny Island - Rocks on the Beach

Bruny Island - Satelite Island

Only roughly 600 permanent inhabitants live on Bruny Island. Especially during summer months, it is frequented by a decent number Tasmanians and tourists from far and wide. Originally it was inhabited by Aboriginals, who like anywhere else in Tasmania, had to suffer an enourmous amount of mistreatment, disposession and displacement that drove them to the brink of extinction. All over the island there are Aboriginal heritage sites, its two most important settlements, Alonnah and Lunnawanna were named in honour of the original inhabitants, and today still some people on Bruny identify and declare themselves of Aboriginal descent.
Named after Admiral Bruni d’Entrecasteaux, Bruny Island was one of the most significant locations of the age of Pacific exploration. Adventure Bay, on the south island, was an important anchor point for Captains Cook, Furneaux, Flinders and William Bligh (named after Furneaux’ and Cook’s ship, the Adventure). It is an absolutely stunning bay with crystal clear but icy cold waters surrounded by lush Eucalypt forests which were an important source of timber. As you walk along the beach, only two forms of sound are heard: the restless breaking of the waves, and the peculiar squaeky song of the Tasman sand below your feet, a sound I was completely unfamiliar with before. Several signs warn visitors not to accidentally tread on bird burrows or camouflaged baby chicks nested in the beach’s sand.
Down the middle of Adventure Bay, in the Sandy Bay settlement, a small brickstone house stands out. It was constructed in the 1950s using bricks from a convict-built kiln from North Bruny, and holds John Hamilton, a man who devoted his entire life to his passion: The Bligh Museum of Pacific Exploration. Inside, a myriad of historic memorabilia from the Age of Exploration is showcased inside glass cabinets. It is at Adventure Bay, where you are closest to the explorers of the past, and you realise how young the history of Tasmania really is.

Bruny Island - Sea view

Bruny Island - Rocks in the Bay

Bruny Island - Start of Adventure Bay

Bruny Island - Adventure Bay

Bruny Island - Adventure Bay settlement

Bruny Island - Shearwater Birds

Bruny Island - Eucalpyt Row

The island’s wildlife is rich and diverse. Also, due to the geographical isolation and therefore limited genetic variation, a genetic defect resulting in Albinism spread to a large number of Wallabys on the island. Whale sightings are not all too rare, and furthermore, the gigantic cliffs in the south host large seal colonies.
Today, Bruny Island’s stunning vistas, rich wildlife and diverse history make it one of the most exciting parts of Tasmania. Furthermore, the island is famous for extraordinary local produce: cheeses, berries, wines, whisky, game produce, and oysters are on the absolutely organic and always fresh menu. Therefore, journeys across Bruny Island also beg for a few gourmet stops. Altogether, an incredble, fascinating place.

Bruny Island - White Wallaby

All images shot on Bruny Island in January of 2016, using Kodak Portra film, with a Leica M6, except the square image, which was taken with a Lubitel 166u. Developed and scanned by MeinFilmLab.de

Share your thoughts