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Introducing Bruny Island

Bruny Island, named after French explorer Bruny D’Entrecasteaux, is almost two islands, joined by a narrow, sandy isthmus called The Neck. Renowned for its wildlife (fairy penguins, echidnas, mutton birds), it’s a windswept, sparsely populated retreat, blown-over by ocean rains in the south, dry and beachy in the north. For info, visit www.brunyisland.net.

Too many visitors try unsuccessfully to cram their Bruny experience into one day, but you really need two or three to explore the island’s coastal enclaves, swimming and surf beaches, forests and walking tracks within South Bruny National Park.

Tourism is key to the island’s economy, though as yet there are no large resorts – just self-contained cottages and guesthouses. A car or bicycle is essential for getting around. Supplies are available at the well-stocked Adventure Bay general store and small shops at Alonnah and Lunawanna. There are no shops in the northern part of the island. Many island roads are unsealed – not all car rental companies are cool with this concept.

The curiosity-arousing Bligh Museum of Pacific Exploration (6293 1117; 876 Main Rd, Adventure Bay; adult/child/family $4/2/10; 10am-4pm) details the local exploits of explorers Bligh, Cook, Furneaux and, of course, Bruny D’Entrecasteaux. Also worth visiting is the 1836 Cape Bruny Lighthouse (6298 3114; tours adult/child $5/2) on South Bruny. Take a tour (one day’s advance booking required) or wander the surrounding reserve (10am-4pm), which has impressive panoramas of the rugged coast.

From October to April, Bruny Island Cruises (6293 1465; www.brunycruises.com.au) operates highly recommended three-hour tours of the island’s awesome southeast coastline, taking in rookeries, seal colonies, bays, caves and towering sea cliffs. Trips depart Adventure Bay jetty at 11am daily from October to May, and cost $95/50 per adult/child. Alternatively, take the tour as part of a full-day trip from Hobart ($155/110), including lunch and transfers.

Travellers without wheels could try Bruny Island Charters’ Bruny Island Bus Service ($45; 8am) – a return bus trip from Hobart to Adventure Bay, with admission to the Bligh Museum of Pacific Exploration and four hours’ exploring time (hike the Fluted Cape Walk, or bum around on the beach).