Eating Bruny Island
Striking. Relaxing. Organic. Scenic. Picturesque. Refreshing. Invigorating. These are just a few adjectives in an endless list that could be used to describe Bruny Island. Yet reciting the entire list, which could very well take an eternity, still would not do Bruny Island justice.
To get to Bruny Island, one must take a ferry from Kettering, which is a 30 minute drive from Hobart. The 15 minute ferry ride arrives at Roberts Point, North Bruny. According to the official website, about 620 people live on the island, which is 100 kilometres long.
From the moment our ferry docked, we started eating.
Bruny Island Smokehouse
Our first stop was the Bruny Island Smokehouse. Affectionately known as BISH, they won seven medals in the Tasmanian Fine Food Awards last year. The gorgeous stone building is the “gateway” to the Island and boasts waterfront views of Skyes Cove and Barnes Bay from its deck.
Inside, the seating and bar are carved from the timber on the property, but one is instantly drawn to the shelves of produce and the fridge full of smoked goods.
A polished wooden clock hangs from a post and sums up a day on Bruny Island perfectly:
Although the Smokehouse is fully licensed, they don’t really do coffee (we had a bitter percolator brew). They are more focussed on their specialty: local wine and ale. The adorable labels of the Tasmanian Chilli Beer Co. tempted us, but we decided that 10.30am was a little too early for alcoholic beverages.
As for tastings… it’s never too early! As evident by their name, The Smokehouse smokes all of their produce onsite. We sampled some olives, chutney, a couple of varieties of smoked salmon, smoked trout, smoked wallaby, and a tangy pomegranate syrup. It only whet our appetite for what was to come.
Address: 360 Lennon Road, Bruny Island, Tasmania
Phone: (03) 6260 6344
Bruny Island Cheese Co.
Next stop: Bruny Island Cheese Co. Established by Nick Haddow after 10 years of working with specialist cheese makers in France, Italy, Spain and the UK, the Cheese Co. is a dairy-lovers dream. Haddow was mentored by Australian ‘cheesesperts’ Richard Thomas and Will Studd. Early in the ‘90s, he worked at Milawa Cheese Co and Meredith Dairy before being awarded a grant to work with Europe’s best cheese makers.
Since then, he has picked up a number of grants and awards to study the art of cheese. Haddow has also been involved in London's Neal's Yard Dairy, managed Richmond Hill Café & Larder, and helped establish the first buffalo dairy and cheese factory at Shaw River, Victoria. A self-described traditionalist, Haddow observes classic cheese making and maturing practices with a constant focus on flavour.
We tried the hard and soft cow’s and goat’s milk varieties. Whether due to the sustainable farming practices, Haddow’s methodology, or both, you could taste the passion and authenticity in the cheese.
The Cheese Co. also offer long, lazy lunches in their corrugated iron and wooden providore/café amongst the eucalyptus trees, and outside on their timber deck. Try their wood-fired bread with a cheese platter or pop in for coffee and a sweet treat. On warmer days, the homemade ice cream with native flavours such as leatherwood honey and organic rhubarb are a wise choice.
Bruny Island Cheese Co. is open daily from 10am until 5pm and are only too happy to cheese around and chat about their artisan produce.
As a side note, we made the mistake of buying cheese without a place to store it for the day. We drove around until late afternoon, the cheese sweltering in the hot car. I recommend taking an Esky with freezer blocks or eating any purchases straight away.
Address: 1807 Bruny Island Main Road, Great Bay, Bruny Island, Tasmania
Phone: (03) 6260 6353
The View of The Neck
On the way to our next Bruny destination, we were treated to some spectacular views. As we headed further south, we came to the narrow isthmus known as The Neck. We climbed the stairs to the lookout, where the pavonine sea spread out across both sides.
By the time we arrived at the Hothouse Café, we were ready for lunch. Open from 10am for all-day breakfast, lunch and dinner, Hothouse Café is a collection of plastic garden chairs and wooden tables on gravel sheltered by a poly tunnel greenhouse.
On cooler days, sitting inside the Hothouse is a cosy, well-insulated option. When the sun is out it can become uncomfortably warm inside, but the five, large tables out the front take in a spectacular view. Set on a manicured lawn with an adjacent orchard and horses in a field, the views of Neck Beach, the Tasman Peninsula and Mount Wellington are simply stunning.
Friendly owners Michael and Fiona Morrison chat freely with guests, and whale sightings are not uncommon during the bi-annual migration. Fiona is in charge of the modern Australian menu, which features hearty, homely meals.
We were all tempted by the damper, served with garlic butter or with smoked salmon, sour cream and capers (also available for two with the addition of Tasmanian Brie. I had one of the Hothouse lavishes. Smoked Atlantic salmon lined the radius of the flat bread wrap, which was stuffed with soft ripened Tasmanian cheese, sour cream and capers. A colourful salad of lettuce, onion, capsicum and cucumber made it all the more appealing. Heaving with fresh ingredients, it was tied together with a knot of chive.
Another member of our Bruny bash ordered the homemade steak and Guinness pie. The buttery pastry was paper-thin and barely contained the chunks of tender meat. It was served with a vibrant garden salad and crunchy, golden chips.
The nachos were hard to resist: drowning in cheese, splashed with tomato salsa, greasy and delicious. They were meant to come with guacamole, but the kitchen had run out of avocado; a dash of sour cream would have been nice. Not the healthiest option, but decidedly moreish.
The Hothouse smoked salmon foccacia was a winner. Without the aforementioned avocado, it contained Camembert cheese, onion, tomato, shaved carrot, and lettuce that can only be described as buoyant. The bread was divine. It arrived lightly grilled but pillow soft on the inside.
Three of the boys ordered the Morella gourmet beef burger. No one was disappointed. Wedged between a toasted panini was a perfectly cooked, oversized patty covered in a generous blanket of melted cheese and doused in a homemade tomato relish. To the 11-year-old’s relief, the beautiful salad was served on the side on the plate, as opposed to inside the burger. The adults put the salad between the bread themselves and struggled to finish the chips.
The specials menu advertised an egg and bacon pie, a couple of quiches and a spicy sweet potato soup. The dessert menu offered homemade scones, pancakes, muffins and cakes but we decided to save dessert for our next stop.
You won’t beat the view and laid back vibe at the Hothouse Café. It’s the perfect place to recharge before continuing your Bruny Island adventure. Take your time; you won’t be rushed along.
Address: 46 Adventure Bay Road, Bruny Island, Tasmania
Phone: (03) 6293 1131
Bruny Island Fudge Company
Our last foodie stop was the Bruny Island Fudge Factory. Unfortunately, the fudge was devoured so quickly that my photos of the actual fudge are limited (read: nonexistent). Although I can report with confidence that the tiny shop front is stocked with chocolate, truffles, boiled sweets, and — of course — fudge.
The cute little confectionery providore is open daily from 10am until 4pm. I can recommend the caramel, English toffee and dark chocolate fudge, but seeing as there are samples available, you might as well try before you buy anyway.
Address: 53 Adventure Bay Road, Bruny Island, Tasmania
Phone: (03) 6293 1456
Bewitched by Bruny
It felt like we ate our way around Bruny Island, but realistically we skipped Get Shucked Oyster Farm (we had oysters waiting on the rocks for us at home, see the post here), Bruny Island Berry Farm (we stopped here to pick up some strawberries to snack on, but alas, they’d run out), Wayaree Estate (the most southern vineyard in Australia), Hotel Bruny, Jetty Cafe and Mermaid Cafe.
If you want to cram it all in, a weekend in Bruny would be ideal. There are endless accommodation options from cottages to caravans to camping sites. Regardless of which fork in the road you follow, one thing’s for certain: Bruny Island won’t let food lovers down.
Above photo strip from brunyisland.org.au