The island was spied by Abel Tasman’s beady eyes in 1642, and between 1770 and 1790 was visited by Furneaux, Cook, Bligh and Cox. It was named after Rear Admiral Bruni d’Entrecasteaux, who explored the area in 1792. Strangely, confusion reigned about the spelling – in 1918 it was changed from Bruni to Bruny.
Nuenonne Aboriginals called the island Lunawanna-Alonnah, a name given contemporary recognition (albeit broken in two) as the titles of two island settlements. Among their numbers was Truganini, daughter of Mangana, chief of the Nuenonne. Truganini left Bruny in the 1830s to accompany George Robinson on his infamous statewide journey to win the trust of all the Tasmanian Aboriginals. Many of Bruny’s landmarks, including Mt Mangana, are named after the isle’s original inhabitants.
The island has endured several commercial ventures. Sandstone was mined here and used for the post office and Houses of Parliament in Melbourne, and coal was also mined. Both industries gradually declined due to lofty transport costs. Only farming, aquaculture and forestry have had long-term viability.