Recently, we published an article and mentioned the Bruny Island Bird Festival. We confessed we say “all things Tasmanian” but we’re actually biting off way more than we can chew. Despite a great team of regular contributors, there’s more things to do in Tasmania than we can possibly cover, especially at this time of year. And with that, we invited guest writers and photographers to help us share the joy.

Bruny Island Bird Festival - Male Flame Robin
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Bruny Island Bird Festival: Flame Robin male

And up stepped Helen Young. Having been to the Bruny Island Bird Festival before, she was always going to return for another foray. Helen has sent us this wonderful article about Bruny Island, and covered lots more than just the bird festival. However, despite being a keen photographer and having some images to support her article, none of her images contained birds. And that’s when the second champion joined our brigade.

Bruny Island Bird Festival - Female Flame Robin
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Flame Robin female: Bruny Island, Tasmania

Roy and Coreena Vieth of Shutterbug Walkabouts are also avid bird watchers and part of the network at Think Tasmania. They plan to introduce a new photography tour to their business next year, and were at the Bruny Island Bird Festival on a reconnaissance mission. They have kindly shared some images from their collection to accompany Helen’s article. We are so blessed to be living in Tasmania, where the whole community loves to sing the praises of the state. Awesome!

For more information visit the Shutterbug Walkabouts website or join Shutterbug Walkabouts Tasmania on Facebook. Contact Roy and Coreena Vieth on 6267 2952 or 0418 745 427.

Bruny Island Bird Festival

by Helen Young

Creeping, crouching, listening, lurking… spotting, spying, like children playing detective, below treetop canopies, along bush trails of flowering undergrowth went our band of birdwatching enthusiasts at Adventure Bay guided by Bob Grahame. Our reward: Swift Parrots in the flowering gums and Flame, Scarlet, and Pink Robins, Fantails, Honey-eaters, Strike Thrushes, and Golden Whistlers, flitting between the lower branches. And on the shoreline Liz Znidersic enthused us with the joys and wonders of watching Pied Oystercatchers and Masked Lapwings, feeding and preening on the sandy shores. We watched Smokey Oystercatchers and Kelp Gulls feeding on rocky shelves, just exposed by the tide, with the aid of Liz’s powerful binoculars. Out to sea flocks of Shearwater massed.

Bruny Island Bird Festival - Oyster Catchers, Adventure Bay
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Oyster Catchers, Bruny Island (photo by Shutterbug Walkabouts)

The opportunity to learn more about birds was on again through the guided walks organised as part of the Bruny Island Bird Festival over four days, October 25-28, 2012. So hooked by the inaugural event two years ago, we were back for more! It was one of the many pleasures on offer. Boat trips, flights, art and photographic exhibitions at the Community Hall in Adventure Bay, letter-box sculptures and guest speakers.

Bruny Island Bird Festival - New Holland Honeyeater, Adventure Bay
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New Holland Honeyeater at Adventure Bay, Bruny Island

I was fortunate to hear Sally Bryant speak at the Dennes Point Community Hall on the threatened 40 Spotted Pardolote and learn some of the ways their renewal has been assisted, including the dedicated work of volunteers replanting its specific habitat. Chris and Ray’s adjoining Jetty Cafe and Marg and Marlene’s Art at the Point Gallery were also a focus, attracting both visitors and locals for coffee and eats around conversations of the island, and the chance to select unique locally-created art works.

Bruny Island Bird Festival - Cliffs at Dennes Point
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Dennes Point, Bruny Island (photo by Helen Young)

Bruny Island Bonus

An added bonus to the weekend was the opportunity to join a guided tour of the historic Quarantine Station on North Bruny, being run for the first time by Wildcare volunteers in association with Tasmanian National Parks and Wildlife. We learned that all new arrivals in Tasmania, from the mid 1800s passed through this station, reaching its peak during WW1, where over 9,000 troops were detained.

Bruny Island Bird Festival - Murrayfield North Bruny
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Murrayfield North Bruny (photo by Helen Young)

Newly acquired photos showed hundreds of tents, numerous buildings including the Superintendent’s and Doctor’s homes, medicine stores, morgues, stables, steerage and saloon housing, some still standing, some taken away to other parts of the island, while others now just stone traces on the ground.

For all on arrival to Tasmania they were stripped and subject to the Inhalation Chamber. Some Spanish flu victims were dead on arrival in 1919 and are buried in a cemetery up on the hill. Germans were also banished to a site way away from the main settlement. The station’s later life up until the 1970s was for plant quarantine. More open days will be offered over summer, the next being 13 January 2013.

Bruny Island Bird Festival - Dennes Hill
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Dennes Hill: Bruny Island Bird Festival (photo by Helen Young)

Bruny Island is a place to make many fascinating discoveries. For nature-lovers, historians, purveyors of gastronomy, collectors of art, bush-walkers, and mariners a unique world is just a short journey from Hobart. And for those just seeking time out, you will find a unique paradise of peace and tranquility.

Helen Young has a passion for Tasmania and its uniqueness. She spends many hours in the natural environment protecting and promoting its beauty. In summer she spends time as a volunteer track warden on the Overland Track and works in the Green Shop one day a week, when not teaching. Helen loves camping, bush walking and photography.

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