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Exploring Bruny Island by Van, Tasmania's Scenic Gem

Updated: Dec 19, 2023

Are you an adventure seeker with a penchant for the open road and the great outdoors? Tasmania, Australia's island state, offers an abundance of stunning landscapes and hidden gems for those seeking an unforgettable road trip adventure. And one destination that should be at the top of your list is Bruny Island. In this travel story, we'll guide you through an epic road trip adventure around Bruny Island, offering valuable tips, must-visit spots, and all the information you need for a memorable vanlife experience. So, buckle up, as we embark on a journey through Tasmania's natural paradise!


Cloudy Bay at sunset on South Bruny National Park
Credit: Jess Bonde

Can I take a campervan to Bruny Island?


Yes, the island is accessible via a short ferry ride from Kettering, a small coastal town south of Hobart, the capital of Tasmania. Make sure to book your ferry tickets in advance, especially during the peak tourist season between December and March.

What to do in Bruny Island?


Exploring the North Island


The North Island of Bruny Island is a captivating destination with a wealth of natural beauty and outdoor activities to offer. Here, you can experience the rugged wilderness and coastal charm that make Bruny Island a must-visit for road trippers.


Adventure Bay: This charming bay is a great starting point for your exploration of North Bruny. It's known for its pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and opportunities for water-based adventures. Here's what you can do in Adventure Bay:


Little penguins (Eudyptula minor) coming back to the colony at night time on Bruny Island in Tasmania
Credit: Tourism Tasmania & Chris Bell
  • Wildlife Watching: Adventure Bay is home to a thriving population of Little Penguins, so consider joining a guided tour to witness their nightly march from the sea to their burrows.

  • Snorkeling: Dive beneath the surface to explore vibrant underwater ecosystems and encounter diverse marine life, from colorful fish to playful dolphins.

  • Kayaking: Paddle along the calm waters of Adventure Bay to discover hidden coves, sea caves, and maybe even encounter friendly seals.

"You can rent a kayak or stand up paddle with your van for a much cheaper fare than a daily rental elsewhere"

Aerial Photo of the Neck of Bruny Island in Tasmania, near Hobart
The Neck - Credit: Jason Charles Hill

The Neck: This iconic isthmus connects the North and South Bruny Island and is an absolute must-visit. It's famous for its breathtaking views and unique wildlife experiences:

  • Neck Lookout: Hike up to the Neck Lookout for panoramic views of both coasts of the island. It's particularly stunning during sunrise and sunset, offering fantastic photo opportunities.

  • Penguin Viewing: As dusk falls, you can witness the enchanting spectacle of hundreds of Little Penguins returning to their burrows on the Neck Beach. Be sure to follow guidelines for responsible penguin viewing.

Adventure-Filled Hiking: The North Island offers various hiking trails for all levels of adventurers. Some of the most popular trails include:

  • Fluted Cape Track: This moderately challenging track takes you through eucalyptus forests, leading to a dramatic coastal lookout with stunning views of the Southern Ocean.

  • Grass Point: A shorter, easy hike that provides excellent bird-watching opportunities and scenic coastal views.

Photography Opportunities: The North Island is a photographer's dream. With its rugged coastline, pristine beaches, and diverse wildlife, you'll find endless opportunities to capture stunning images of nature's beauty.


Discovering the South Island


This part of the island is equally captivating, offering a unique blend of natural wonders, historical sites, and culinary delights.


Bruny Island Lighthouse at night time with a bright southern aurora borealis
Credit: Luke Tscharke

Bruny Island Lighthouse:

  • Location: Situated at the southern tip of the island, the Bruny Island Lighthouse is a historic icon and a must-visit attraction.

  • Highlights: Climb to the top of the lighthouse for panoramic views of the rugged coastline and the Southern Ocean. It's not only a great photo opportunity but also a chance to learn about the island's maritime history.

  • Relatively rural, the island is free from light and city pollution (two of the biggest hindrances to seeing the Southern Lights), with the added benefit of stunning beaches and wilderness. For the best views of the Southern Lights, climb the stairs at The Neck and point your camera southwards.

Aurora Australis on Bruny Island
Credit: Luke Tscharke

Cape Bruny:

  • Location: Just a short drive from the lighthouse, Cape Bruny is a stunning destination offering picturesque coastal vistas.

  • Highlights: Explore the dramatic cliffs and coastal trails, which provide breathtaking views of the Tasman Sea. Keep an eye out for seabirds and maybe even spot a whale in the distance. Don't forget to capture the iconic "penguin crossing" sign for a memorable photo.

Adventure Activities:

  • The South Island is a playground for adventure seekers. Consider taking a thrilling eco-cruise that departs from Adventure Bay to explore the rugged coastline, see seals, dolphins, and other marine life up close, and learn about the island's unique ecosystem.

  • The area is also ideal for fishing, with opportunities to catch a variety of fish species, including flathead and salmon.


The neck of Bruny Island viewed from a drone at a 90 degree angle
Credit: Jess Bonde

South Bruny National Park:

  • The South Island is part of the South Bruny National Park, a haven for nature lovers. Here, you can explore pristine beaches, lush forests, and diverse ecosystems. Keep an eye out for native wildlife, including wallabies, echidnas, and a variety of bird species.


Camping on Bruny Island

Camping on Bruny Island with a van offers an incredible opportunity to immerse yourself in the island's natural beauty and experience the freedom of vanlife adventures. Here's what you need to know about camping on Bruny Island:

Campgrounds and Facilities: Bruny Island boasts several campgrounds suitable for campervans and RVs, including popular options like Cloudy Bay Beach Campground, Adventure Bay Campground, and Jetty Beach Campground. These campgrounds typically provide basic amenities like toilets, picnic tables, and barbecue areas, though the specific facilities can vary.


Coastal area of Bruny Island in Tasmania
Credit: Tourism Tasmania & Rob Burnett

Booking in Advance: Especially during the peak tourist season, it's advisable to book your campsite ahead of time. This can be done online through the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service website, ensuring you have a designated spot and avoiding disappointment upon arrival.

Permits and Fees: Camping on Bruny Island may require a National Parks Pass, which can be obtained online or at visitor centers. This pass covers entry fees and camping fees for certain sites, and the fees are typically modest, with the funds going towards maintaining facilities and preserving the natural environment. Each campground typically has restrictions on the length of stay, ranging from 7 to 14 days. Be sure to check the specific rules for the campground you plan to visit.


Little cute wallaby looking at the camera on Bruny Island in Tasmania
Credit: Blake Lisk - Pillar Creative

Respect the Environment: Bruny Island is known for its pristine natural environment and diverse wildlife. Show respect for the local flora and fauna, and follow Leave No Trace principles. Keep noise levels to a minimum, particularly during nighttime, to maintain a peaceful atmosphere for fellow campers and wildlife. Open fires are generally prohibited on Bruny Island due to the wildfire risk. However, most campgrounds offer designated areas for gas or fuel stoves.

Waste Disposal: Practice responsible camping by disposing of waste properly, including rubbish and wastewater. Most campgrounds have waste disposal facilities for your convenience.


Water and Supplies: Before heading to your campsite, ensure you have an ample supply of fresh water and provisions since services and shops may be limited on the island.


Wildlife Encounters: Bruny Island is home to various wildlife, including wallabies, pademelons, and various bird species. Exercise caution while driving and camping to avoid disturbing these animals, and never feed them.

Off-Grid Camping: If you seek a more remote camping experience, consider exploring off-grid or bush camping options on Bruny Island. These sites may offer limited or no facilities, so we've made sure our vans can offer you self-sufficiency, by having water and power.


Choosing the Right Van


Selecting the perfect van for your road trip adventure is crucial. Consider factors like size, comfort, and equipment. Many rental companies offer fully equipped camper vans or motorhomes, ensuring a comfortable and self-sufficient journey.

"Our favorite van to explore Bruny Island is lutruwita"

"lutriwita" is an indigenous Tasmanian Aboriginal word that means "Tasmania." It is used to refer to the island of Tasmania. The use of indigenous names like "lutriwita" is our way to acknowledge and respect the original inhabitants and their cultural heritage.


This off-grid wonder is your ticket to unforgettable journeys in Tasmania. Fully equipped with a cozy double bed, lighting, fridge, cooking gear, and more, lutriwita ensures you can stay comfortably amidst nature for days. With its 50L water tank and solar panels offering 220V, its the perfect van for staying a few night away from everyone else. Its panoramic windows provide a 360° view, making it ideal for seeing all the beautiful surroundings Bruny Island has to offer.


Bruny Island is a paradise for road trip enthusiasts seeking adventure, breathtaking landscapes, and a taste of local culture. With its pristine beaches, rugged cliffs, abundant wildlife, and delicious cuisine, it's no wonder this island is a sought-after destination for vanlife aficionados.


So, pack your bags, rent a comfortable van, and hit the road for an unforgettable adventure on Bruny Island, Tasmania. Whether you're a nature lover, foodie, or simply someone in search of tranquility, Bruny Island offers something for every road-tripper's heart.


Begin your journey today and experience the magic of Bruny Island's road trip adventures!

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