What do you get when you travel to an island off an island off an island?; to one of Australia’s most wildlife-rich islands where stunning landscapes almost become tiresome?
Is there even such a thing as a place offering too much natural beauty?
If there is, Bruny Island would be guilty as charged!
One of the southern-most points in Australia, Bruny Island lies off the south coast of Tasmania. Though despite being just a short drive and ferry ride from Hobart, less than 10% of travelers to Tasmania visit, choosing instead to head to more famous parts of the State like Cradle Mountain and Freycinet National Park.
While Bruny Island may only be 50 kilometres across, the unassuming island is one of Tasmania’s best kept secrets, and while small in size, it certainly packs a heavy punch; think stunning natural beaches, elusive quolls and white wallabies, and sustainable luxury at its finest.
You’ll need at least 3 days to really do the island justice, and when it comes to accommodation, we can highly recommend Free Spirit Pods; gorgeous, fully self contained eco-pods set on the waterfront, backed by 8 acres of bushland on North Bruny Island.
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Free Spirit Pods: Luxury Eco-Accom on Tasmania’s Bruny Island
An Introduction to Bruny Island
Originally inhabited by local Aboriginal tribes before European arrival, Bruny Island would go on to become home to 19th century whaling stations, timber ports, tramways, and expansive farms.
Many notable explorers have visited Bruny Island including Tobias Furneaux, Matthew Flinders, William Bligh, and the great Captain James Cook who charted a great deal of Australia’s coastline during his voyages through the Pacific.
Signs and artefacts relating to Bruny Island’s original inhabitants can still be seen today in the form of aboriginal middens and scattered stone tools. At that time, voices on the island spoke the ancient Nuenonne language.
The island would go on to take its modern name from the French explorer Bruni d’Entrecasteaux who proved that Bruny was in fact an island. Today, the island continues to be a haven for endangered wildlife and fresh artisan food and wine.
How to Get to Bruny Island & Free Spirit Pods
Bruny is divided into two distinct parts, North and South Bruny Island. It almost looks as though there are two separate islands, but the regions are attached by an isthmus called The Neck, which offers a grand lookout of both ends.
The ferry to Bruny Island leaves Kettering on mainland Tasmania (30 minutes from Hobart) and arrives on North Bruny Island, making it just a short drive to then check-in at Free Spirit Pods.
Sealink operates the ferries to and from Bruny Island and they run daily from approximately 7:30 AM to 7:00 PM during season, at a charge of around $30-$40 AUD roundtrip including the cost of a vehicle.
From Hobart, it will take you roughly an hour to reach Bruny Island (total travel time), including the 20-minute ferry ride across the D’Entrecasteaux Channel where you might be able to spot some marine life.
Located just a short (and very scenic) drive from the ferry terminal on North Bruny Island, Free Spirit pods may be tucked away in pristine bush, but the property is accessible to 2WD vehicles.
While Bruny Island is an easy day trip from Hobart, it’s likely that you’ll find yourself severely disappointed that you didn’t book to stay.
Our Free Spirit Eco-Pod
Run by hosts Chris Varney Clark and Garry Deutsher, Free Spirit Pods offer accommodation that is truly unique to Bruny Island; a sleek and sophisticated unit built to be environmentally and ecologically sound, with minimal impact to the natural environment.
Sustainability here is key, because when you’re staying at Free Spirit Pods, you’re staying right in the heart of Bruny Island’s beautiful natural environment.
Outside each pod lies native bushland and water views for as far as the eye can see. Large floor to ceiling bi-fold glass doors allow the landscapes to come flooding in (of course, not literally!), making you feel as though you’re one with the scenery.
The interior vibe is a mix of quirky Asian and local Tasmanian influences, with a spacious open plan layout, marine grade aluminium framing and luxurious Tasmanian oak floors.
Both eco-pods are almost identical so there’s no need to worry about choosing the right one. Though if you’re a sucker for native birds (like us!), you have the choice of a pod called the Blue Wren, or one called the Flying Duck.
Photos of the Flying Duck
The interior layout of the Eco-pods is perfection; the queen sized bed has been perfectly positioned to allow you to take in the exceptional water views before closing your eyes for a rest, and the open layout means everything flows from one room to the next.
The pod offers ample room for two adults and can accommodate small families with its additional queen size sofa bed. Sunlight pours in from every direction through the double glazed windows which help keep things ultra warm and silent inside.
Further heating is provided via an eco-friendly and easy to use wood pellet fireplace – those Tasmanian winters can get quite chilly, though feel free to walk barefoot across the heated bathroom floors.
Free Spirit Pods are fully self contained, with kitchen facilities and modern appliances that make it easy to cook, though the hosts go even further; not only is is fully self contained, the pods are also fully stocked.
You’ll find all kinds of local goodies in your pod upon arrival; in your fridge you’ll find local ginger chilli beer, Tasmanian sweets and chocolates, banana bread, cheese & crackers, honey ice cream, yogurt, and fresh fruit.
But this isn’t a mini bar type of deal; it’s all included in your cost. They also provide items like salt and pepper, olive oil, butter, tomato sauce, honey, and other condiments – of particular note – a jar full to the brim of marshmellows for the roast (there’s an outdoor fire-pit that looks out over the water).
Other features of Free Spirit Pods include the following:
Features of Free Spirit Pods
➤ The pod’s kitchen provides a gas cooktop, microwave, sink, large fridge, toasted sandwich maker, dining table, and Smeg appliances such as an espresso machine, toaster, and kettle.
➤ A beautiful ensuite bathroom provides a modern walk-in shower along with Sukin botanical body wash and Pure Herbs toiletries made with extracts of rosemary, thyme, and lemon balm.
➤ Your large private outdoor deck features seating, a deck umbrella, and a fully stocked BBQ.
➤ Enjoy a large library of books and literature in your pod that includes bird and wildlife identification guides along with other fascinating local reads.
➤ For those rainy days or come nightfall, enjoy a large TV subscribed to Netflix which guarantees that you’ll find something worth watching.
➤ There are laundry facilities for longer stays and boat mooring up to 13 metres for those coming to Bruny by private boat.
Activities at Free Spirit Eco-Pods
While Bruny Island offers a wealth of activities, you don’t need to travel far from your pod to enjoy a multitude of outdoor adventures. And Chris and Garry provide everything you could ever think to need for recreation.
In addition to providing you with direct water access, Free Spirit Pods have 2-person kayaks onsite and fishing equipment that is free of charge during your stay. Life jackets are even provided (in your room).
A gate on the edge of the property leads to a waterfront jetty where you might try your luck at catching some local flathead, gummy shark, or flounder. Be sure to bring along your own bait, and try using mussels or anchovies for the best results.
There are binoculars and bird identification guides in each pod for birdwatchers; all 12 of Tasmania’s endemic birds can be seen on Bruny Island. A great place to seek out endemic birds and species such as sea eagles and kookaburras is in the nearby Quarantine Station State Reserve which is easily accessible via a short walk along the shoreline at low tide (the reserve can be accessed by road too).
The grounds around the Free Spirit Pods also house a lovely outdoor fire pit that guests of both pods are welcome to use. Everything you’ll need to start a fire is there including firewood, and, as mentioned, a generous supply of marshmellows.
Inside your pod you’ll also find your own personal picnic basket to easily enjoy a meal outside. And while you’re feeding, you can also feed the local wallabies with the healthy wallaby treats Chris and Garry provide (also free).
Or, if you simply don’t like hiking, kayaking, bird watching, and patting gorgeous local wallabies (who are you!!!), who wander up to the pods with their cute faces every dusk like clockwork, you can simply grab a book and relax in the outdoor hammock.
There is high speed WiFi, though we found ourselves too busy to use it.
The Perfect Hosts
The charm of Free Spirit Pods is further enhanced by Chris and Garry, your hosts. Both originally from Melbourne, with a great deal of experience in the tourism business, their years of experience in hospitality shine through in the attention to detail and little things they bring to each stay.
No stone was left unturned during our time at Free Spirit Pods, and what made this stay stand out was the exceptional level of care and thought that went into providing every comfort of home, and everything we didn’t know we wanted.
From stocking the kitchen with locally sourced products, to providing fishing gear, books, hooking the TV up with a Netflix subscription, binoculars, picnic baskets, outdoor rec, pellets to feed the wallabies, and marshmello’s (yes, I’m still going on about the free marshmello’s!), we were blown away.
Each pod additionally has it’s own potted herb garden out front if you choose to spice up your cooking with locally grown Tasmanian herbs and spices.
Chris and Garry live onsite, and are readily available should you want to pick their brains for local insider information on things to do around Bruny Island. We ourselves took their advice to check out the nearby Quarantine Station and the beautiful beachside rock arch that sits along the Cape Queen Elizabeth Track.
Meet the Locals
While human neighbours may be few and far between, you are likely to encounter many of the local animal inhabitants. We quickly made friends with the local red-necks, also known as Bennett’s wallabies.
Other animals you can spot include marsupials you may never have heard of such as antechinuses, dunnarts, bandicoots, potoroos, and bettongs. We were lucky enough to come within inches of a spiny echidna who was busy consuming the local ant population.
The island may be lacking Tasmanian devils, tiger quolls, and wombats, it is one of the best places in Australia to spot wild Eastern quolls. While numbers of the species are declining all across Tasmania, they are actually on the rise on North Bruny Island.
As mentioned, don’t miss the opportunity to spot all 12 Tasmanian endemic birds including the native hen, strong-billed honeyeater, black currawong, and the very rare forty-spotted Pardalote. Bruny Island has been listed as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International.
If a few of the local human inhabitants look familiar, you may know them from the reality TV show Aussie Lobster Men. The series portrays the real lives of Tasmanian rock lobster fisherman, some of which drop lobster traps just off Bruny Island.
The Southern Rock Lobster is among the most sought after and expensive lobsters in the world. Found only in the waters of southern Australia and New Zealand, individual lobsters can go for as much as a few hundred dollars each.
Highlights of Bruny Island
If you find the motivation to leave the comfort of your eco-pod, and find the time to leave Chris and Garry’s property, you’ll find a number of exciting adventures around the island. You can opt for self-guided tours or research the many guided eco-tours that are available.
A visit to The Neck Lookout is a must. In addition to offering an elevated lookout with 360-degree views, there are boardwalks and viewing platforms that allow you to observe the adorable little penguins and short-tailed shearwaters that nest here from around September to February each year.
South Bruny National Park is a hiker’s dream, offering up great walks like the Grass Point Walk and Fluted Cape Walk. It is here where you will see some of the island’s most remarkable natural features including dramatic seaside cliffs and dense forests.
Don’t miss the opportunity to check out the Cape Bruny Lighthouse, the second oldest extant lighthouse tower in Australia that was manned for over 150 years.
If you’re more of a beach lover, check out either Adventure or Cloudy Bay. Adventure Bay offers a sheltered beach perfect for swimming in the summer months and Cloudy Bay offers surfing opportunities for experienced surfers.
You may even be joined on the beach by an Australian fur seal or rare leopard seal visiting from Antarctica. Keep an eye out to sea in case humpback or southern right whales are migrating through.
Book Your Stay
For more information about Free Spirit Pods, or to book your stay, visit freespiritpods.com
Click here to read reviews on Tripadvisor.