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The Highlight of Bruny Island and Kerrie’s 50th

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We didn’t know it when we awoke but today was to be easily the greatest highlight of our adventure so far.

We were taking the Bruny Island cruise. Kerrie wanted to remember her 50th birthday with something special, and this did not disappoint.
We had heard much of this cruise so our expectations were quite high but the actual experience left us quite literally unable to find adjectives descriptive enough to describe the natural wonder that is the coastline where the South Bruny National Park meets the Tasman Sea.

Look for the Yellow Boat and the red coats thats the Bruny Island Cruise.

Look for the Yellow Boat and the red coats thats the Bruny Island Cruise.

We packed up the van and hitched up since we would be heading back to Hobart after the cruise where we would stay the night to be available at 8.30 tomorrow for the repair on the fridges gas line.

On arriving at the jetty we boarded the sleek and fast vessels each powered with 3 x 300 horsepower outboard motors.
We donned long thick red sea jackets and off we went accompanied by the effervestant personalities of the Skipper and his deck hand.
We passed the point of Adventure Bay to the rich local knowledge commentaries of the crew and were treated to a colony of Cormorants sunning themselves on Guano covered rocks that were surrounded by the thick kelp beds waving in the tide.

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Cormorants on white covered rocks

Cormorants on white covered rocks

We then proceeded past sheer cliffs of dolorite caused by molten rock being forced through vents in the earths crust – the result of and ancient cataclysmic event. The resulting millennia of exposure to the harsh conditions here eroded the soil leaving these magnificent structures of bare rock that dive headlong into the ocean.
All the while these cliffs are being pounded by the huge swells from the meeting point of the Tasman Sea and the Great Southern Ocean even on this unusually calm day.
We steamed past huge monuments and through narrow gorges that caused great excitement on board.

Roaring between these rocks was a great thrill, of course we had to do again.

Roaring between these rocks was a great thrill, of course we had to do again.

We nudged into gigantic sea caves and even one – The Grumpy Old Man- that releases a loud errie moan, the result of the waves sending unbelievable volumes of water deep into the cave.

We poked the vessels head almost within touching distant of the magnificent Breathing Rock blow hole that regularly erupted sending huge spray jets high into the air.

Called Breathing Rock for a reason.

Called Breathing Rock for a reason.

We entered wildly spectacular coves with little beaches rarely trodden on by humans and surrounded by water so clear we could see schools of fish feeding on the bottom many metres below the hull.

We witnessed the swaying of thick forests of kelp that grow a metre per day and have their root systems anchored to rocks some 15 metres below the surface.

The waters are full of plankton which makes this amazing colour. Crystal clear you can see well below.

The waters are full of plankton which makes this amazing colour. Crystal clear you can see well below.

As we neared the southern most point of the island the thick forests that had so far shrouded the hills above the rocky cliffs gave way to very little or no vegetation at all as the land became exposed to the constant gales of the Great Southern ocean making it impossible for all but the hardiest of plants to survive.
As it was unusually calm we were able to steam out into the Great Southern ocean and into the huge long swells to make our way to Friars rocks.
It was on these rocks exposed to the seas constant fury that we saw the first colony of seals, New Zealand fur seals, sunning themselves on all over the tiny ledges of the rocks. Grey in colour they were curious and busy and utterly amazing.

New Zealand fur seals sunning themselves on the rocks.

New Zealand fur seals sunning themselves on the rocks.

A little further and we came upon colonies of Juveniles, coloured similar to Alsatian dogs, happily playing around the rocks, sunning and scratching themselves.

We then found ourselves amid a colony of adult male Australian fur seals, larger than the New Zealand species and much more relaxed. For the most part they were completely uninterested in our intrusion into their daily lives, except for the occasional cursory glance.
Some lay on their backs in the sea at the bottom of the rocks rubbing their stomachs while most just lay around.
Downwind the smell was an unbelievably overpowering mix of decomposed squid  and fish flavoured urine and faeces, which our Skipper urged us not to just “smell” but to open our mouths and suck it in and “taste it”.

Australian Male seals laying around veging out.

Australian Male seals laying around veging out.

Some of these were over 300kg

Some of these were over 300kg

Heavily populated Cormorant colonies neighboured the seal colony and we were so close as to see the whites of the Cormorants eyes so to speak.

Heavily populated Cormorant colonies

Heavily populated Cormorant colonies

Continuing our foray into the Southern ocean we steamed a few miles out to try to find some of the elusive solitary albatross that frequent these waters.

We were treated to an abundance of Shearwaters, who like the albatross, live almost entirely at sea except for breeding time. The incredible birds migrate 30,000 miles to the Bering sea in the Arctic each year and then back here.

We did see an albatross, spectacular in its oneness with the sea as it glided over the huge waves with barely a flap of the wings.
It was much smaller in size than the giant albatross, with wing spans of up to 10 feet, I used to witness while working the fishing boats in the south west of New Zealand but this one was none the less spectacular.

The trip back to Adventure bay was just as spectacular but tinged with some sadness as there was a great reluctance to end the experience of witnessing what must be the most beautiful place on the globe.

We travelled the hour or so back to Hobart tired and silently reliving each moment of the unique experience.

Barry and Chistine were speaking to some people a couple of days ago who had just returned from Bruny island. Barry asked what they thought of it and their reply was, “GOBSMAKINGLY BEAUTIFUL!”.

They were exactly right!

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