Bruny Island Cruises

Stories from our backyard: Bruny Island Cruises

Bruny Island Cruises

The monument

Rob Pennicott used to own a fish & chip takeaway shop in Tasmania. Fishing and the Tasmanian wilderness were and still are his passion. That was over 20 years ago. Those initial passions seeded the beginnings of Bruny Island Cruises, and his company Pennicott Wilderness Journeys. Today he shares the magnificence of the Tasmanian wilderness with the world and fields over 8 journeys showcasing stunning landscapes, local gourmet produce and wines, historic sites, native wildlife, and spectacular walking experiences. Pennicott Wilderness Journeys is the award-winning operator that presents Bruny Island, and the cruise shines the spotlight on wilderness places you normally would not be able to get to.

Bruny Island Cruises

Bruny Island is 50km long and only a 40-minute drive plus 20-minute ferry from Hobart. It’s a popular day trip. Discover some of Tasmania’s most beautifully preserved natural environments with abundant wildlife and spectacular cliff top views. These are the highest sea cliffs in the southern hemisphere. Take the time to spot a rare white wallaby and enjoy hiking through the South Bruny National Park with its amazing towering cliffs. Bruny Island was inhabited for tens of thousands of years by the Aborigines before featuring on the well-worn path of the Southern Ocean discovery by many European explorers. The parade included Abel Tasman, Captain Cook, William Bligh and the French explorer, Bruni D’Entrecasteaux who named the island in 1792. Bruny island developed over the years with whaling stations, settlements, farming pursuits and quarries. Today there are only 800 residents. According to Rob Pennicott, Bruny Island is one of the best nature shows in terms of scenery and its local wildlife.

Bruny Island Cruises

Fluted Cape

The showcase Bruny Island cruise is an absolute must-do to appreciate the wilderness and get up close and personal with the rich variety of local wildlife. The 3-hour wilderness cruise runs up to three times daily in summer. It explores the rugged coastline as well as delving into the deep sea caves. Guests search for the abundant coastal wildlife such as seals, dolphins, migrating whales and sea birds.  The highly trained interpretive guides love what they do – they work hard to ensure that the experience is fun, enjoyable, entertaining, and informative. If you choose the day trip from Hobart, you begin your Bruny Island adventure with morning tea and enjoy a lunch after the cruise at the Visitor Centre featuring premium Tasmanian fish sustainably caught. It really does deliver an exceptional day out!

Legacy of conservation….

Albino Bennetts Wallaby. Photo credit: Tourism Tasmania & Nick Osborne

Pennicott Wilderness Journeys and Bruny Island Cruises is more than a window view of the splendour and wonder of southern Tasmania. The company is highly acclaimed as both an environmental tourism operator and they are 100% Carbon Offset. The good news does not stop there. A portion of each cruise ticket fee goes towards philanthropic activities. In the past these have included conservation efforts, eradicating feral cats from Tasman Island, and eradicating rats from the big Green Island. Since the successful eradications, over 100,000 breeding seabirds are saved each year! The aim is about operating in harmony with the environment and local communities and protecting the environment for future generations. That’s a very worthy cause and one which I hope encourages you to include Tasmania and Bruny Island Cruises on your wish list for your next holiday….

Bruny Island Premium Wines. Photo credit: Tourism Tasmania & Rob Burnett


The summer season (December-April) is traditionally the most popular time to visit. The daytime temperatures range around 22 degrees Celsius and the nights are cool. Perfect weather for all activities.

Good to know:

Tasmania is an island at the edge of the world – a natural paradise … small in size yet big on experiences.  The unique wilderness and pristine environment is the main drawcard for Tasmania, and Bruny Island is no exception. Connect with the unique wildlife, taste the outstanding local produce, and explore the South Bruny National Park. You could stay for a day or 3 days, there is plenty to do! Apart from the Bruny Island Cruise, other top highlights include visiting the Neck for some magnificent views, if you are a seafood lover then a must is the Get Shucked Oyster restaurant, sample some local creations at the Bruny Island Cheese Company, enjoy some great walks through the South Bruny National Park, and don’t forget some tastings at Bruny Island wine or the Tasmanian House of Whisky.

Bruny Island Cheese Co. Photo credit: Adam Gibson

And finally:

Australia Expat Travel (AET) specialises in exceptional holidays to Australia and New Zealand. We make it simple with our local knowledge, seamless logistics and trusted advice since 2004. Expect a bespoke itinerary curated with the big picture and the small details. Contact Us

Cradle Mountain

Cradle Mountain: A highlight of Tasmania

Another family mini-break was a long weekend spent at Cradle Mountain National Park. Part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, it is a most dramatic place to enjoy some peace & rejuvenation in a pristine wilderness setting. This is one of the heavy-weights of Tasmania travel for good reason!

Cradle Mountain

Photo courtesy of Tourism Tasmania & Adrian Cook

Cradle Mountain National Park:

Is a 2:5 hour drive from Launceston.  It is at the northern end of the immense Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park. It is easy to immerse yourself in the beautiful alpine landscape with rugged peaks, windswept moors, lakes and ancient forests.  It is also the start point for the world-famous Overland Track, a magnificent 6 day walk that explores the diverse mountain terrain. But if you are not into long walks… there is still plenty to do! Spend a day doing some short walks, try boating, kayaking or horse riding and then return to your chalet to dine on fresh local produce and divine Tasmanian wine. It is a premier wilderness area where you can also expect to meet some of the friendly local animals on your travels.

Cradle Mountain

Photo courtesy of Tourism Tasmania & Andrew McIntosh, Ocean Photography

Here are some of the key things to do:

Short Walks:

There are over 20 walks around Cradle Mountain. It is an easy and fun way to explore. You can choose to start with some of the 45-minute boarded walks through rainforests to full day walks which cover alpine moors, glacial lakes and rainforests. One not to miss is the 2-3-hour Dove Lake Circuit. For some more challenge, aim for the Cradle Mountain summit walk which is 6-8 hours return.

Cradle Mountain

Photo courtesy of Tourism Tasmania & Gene Goldberg

Action Options:

For more action the premier choice is Canyoning. You can climb, jump, abseil and swim through some spectacular wilderness areas in the summer months. Half and full day tours. Our family did the more sedate 1:5 hour horse-riding on the plains with brilliant views of Cradle Mountain. You can also do some quad biking if speed is your thing!

Cradle Mountain

Photo courtesy of Tourism Australia & Graham Freeman

Animal experiences:

Expect to meet some friendly wombats, echidnas & kangaroos on your walks exploring the National Park. Don’t miss the wildlife sanctuary that is dedicated to preservation and research of the Tasmanian Devil. You can do an after dark feeding tour or dine with the devil.

Cradle Mountain

Photo courtesy of Tourism Tasmania & Rob Burnett

Cradle Mountain

Photo courtesy of Tourism Tasmania & supplied by Kentish Council

Cradle Mountain

Photo courtesy of Paul Fleming

Cradle Mountain is a premier wilderness area with magnificent landscapes and experiences to enjoy. It is all about nature and the great outdoors! After your outdoor walks don’t forget to call into Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge for a relaxing coffee in the gorgeous lodge. Ask us to include Cradle Mountain in your Tasmania holiday itinerary…

Down under Australia

Down Under Australia Holiday

Down Under Australia Holiday by Sylvaine Djafarian

If you’ve dreamed of traveling down under to Australia for a holiday, but baulked at the distances and time zones to cross from your native Europe or America, perhaps your time in China is the perfect opportunity to go.

After each business trip in Australia, my husband kept telling us how beautiful this country was, and how friendly Aussies were. So, knowing that this might be our last year in Shanghai, and that from Europe, the trip would be much more complicated and expensive, we decided to spend the whole Christmas holidays there.

We had a few wishes: diving and snorkeling, beaches and nature, with two children aged five and seven, who are not used to long hikesand Australia fulfilled them all!

To the Apple Isle

Echidna Down Under AustraliaOur first taste of Tasmania, Australia’s southern island state, was an evening stroll around the harbor and enjoying delicious grilled meat. The next morning, we picked up our rental car in the city center, and drove to Port Arthur. Driving (on the left!) is a very convenient way to visit Tasmania, either with a car or campervan.

We were all eager to meet the local star, the Tasmanian devil, so our first stop was at the Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park, between Hobart and Port Arthur. After seeing a female and her young having lunch, we understood why the Warner Bros Looney Tunes animated cartoons portrayed this marsupial as Taz, a carnivore with a great appetite! We also learnt that the Tasmanian devil is now an endangered species, because of a very contagious dis-ease, its illegally introduced predator the red fox, and road accidents.

Tasmania Devil Down Under AustraliaWe then spent an afternoon in Port Arthur, an open air museum and UNESCO world heritage site, which used to be a penal colony in the 19th century. History is vividly rendered through exhibitions, stories about the British and Irish convicts and their hard lives, and inspired guides offering tours of the remaining buildings. Some convicts were as young as nine, something that made our children thoughtful

From the South-East we drove to the West Coast, through impressive National Parks preserving the Tasmanian Wilderness Area. We traveled on the West Coast Wilderness Railway, a restoration of an original steam train carrying copper from Queens-town mines to the port at Strahan, and stopping at the stations along the line, we discovered the rainforest, the Huon pines, and even panned for goldwith no success!

Our favorite activity was the Bonnet Island Experience: cruising on a small boat to a tiny island just before dusk, listening to stories about the island and its lighthouse before enjoying a plate of delicious local cheese on the boat, and going back to the island at night to see its inhabitants, about 40 Little Penguins, returning to their burrows to feed their hungry and noisy chicks.

On the day long road trip crossing Tasmania from West to East, we took several short walks in the Cradle Mountain National Park, and saw echidnas and pademelons , the kangaroo’s smaller cousin. The countryside offers a great variety of landscapes, beautiful mountains and colorful vegetation.

We ended our Tasmanian trip in Bicheno, where we spent a day in Freycinet National Park, enjoying turquoise waters, white sand beaches and pink granites rocks. The best part for our kids was stroking a friendly kangaroo .in the parking lot! He was busy eating the apple a visitor gave him, despite all the do not feed the animals signs. My husband also joined the diving center for a dive among beautiful weedy sea dragons (marine fish related to the seahorse).

Tasmania is often skipped by travelers who prefer to concentrate on Australia’s mainland, but for us it was a wonderful oasis of nature, amazing animals, varied landscapes within relatively short driving range, and very friendly people.

Heron Island Down Under Australia

To the Tropics

From Australia’s most southern point, we flew north, to the coral cay of Heron Island near the Tropic of Capricorn, in Queensland. The island is about 800m long and 300m at its widest. Its eastern half is part of a National Park. Discovered in 1843, it wasn’t inhabited until the early 20th century when a turtle cannery was established. It is now shared by a resort, a reef research station, and tens of thousands of birds during the breeding season, from October to April.

Don’t expect a 5-star luxury resort, be careful of the Noddy terns droppings over your heads, and bring your ear plugs for the night, but if you love nature, diving and snorkeling, this is a great place for a few days. We took reef walks, searching in the shallows for starfish, sea cucumber, small sharks, shells, and a wide array of corals.

The forest walks revealed where the ghoulish screams at night came from: the Wedge-tailed Shearwaters feeding their chicks after a day of fishing. There is also a great Junior Ranger Club for kids over seven years which our daughter loved. She had fun, and learnt everything about the sea, its inhabitants, its dangers, and why we need to protect our environment.

Unfortunately, the weather was not the best. The trip between Gladstone and the island was a nightmare, the sea was rough, and we were all sick. Poor visibility and strong currents only allowed limited diving and snorkeling, however, from the beach, we saw stingrays, a school of young reef sharks, and parrot fish. We also were lucky to see sea turtles nesting during walks at dusk, and even once at 11am, which was quite unusual, but allowed us to take photos. Last but not least, our children still talk about the arrival of Santa Claus on a boat !

Down Under Australia

To the City

Sydney is a capital city that epitomizes Australia’s relaxing lifestyle. Our hotel, over-looking Hyde Park, was the perfect starting point to explore Darling Harbour, the beautiful Botanic Gardens, the Opera House
(where we attended the musical Children Show Hairy Maclary and Friends booked 2 months before), and visit Taronga Zoo by ferry from Circular Quay.

We did not suffer from the heat on the East Coast nor in Sydney, apparently weather was cooler than usual, with Australia still waiting for the summer to begin.

The highlight of our stay in Sydney was New Year’s Eve overlooking the harbor. After discovering that we could not access the main harbor area of Circular Quay, we walked to the Observatory Gardens, the perfect place to enjoy the Family Fireworks at 9pm. An unforgettable show, both in the sky, and also on the streets, with a mix of tourists in shorts and T-shirts, and locals in evening dresses and high heels.

Three weeks were not enough. We will have to go back for Melbourne, the outback, Uluru, more beautiful beaches, and all the other amazing places Australia offers.

Useful Tips:

  • Tasmania: Best season (December to March) usually has daytime temperatures ranging around 20-22 degrees Celsius. Early December, it was colder, pack some warm clothes.
  • Heron Island: best season (October to April) has daytime temperatures ranging around 28-30 degrees Celsius, and no jellyfish in the sea during Christmas time. Note that all boat trips are only for adults and kids older than 8.
  • If you are planning to spend New Year’s Eve in Sydney book well in advance.
  • Food and accommodation in Australia are expensive, so try to book family rooms with cooking
    facilities to avoid always going to restaurants.
  • Contact Australia Expat Travel for local knowledge and good information.; [email protected]