You may be under the impression that gourmet food is the main reason to visit Bruny Island. There’s no denying it’s an attractive prospect; but there’s so much more to Bruny than eating and drinking. Take history, for example. We touched on historical highlights during our piece on the Cape Bruny Lighthouse. Now we’d like to also mention a vague recollection of history from way, way back during our primary school days, about Captain James Cook.

Captain James Cook - Adventure Bay
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View to Bruny Island Berry Farm on Adventure Bay Road at Resolution Creek

Captain James Cook: History Books Come Alive

It doesn’t take much delving to realise Bruny Island features quite regularly in Tasmanian history books. The so-named Captain James Cook Caravan Park on Adventure Bay Road is a fairly obvious clue. There are several places for interested visitors to uncover more information about the past…

The Bligh Museum of Pacific Exploration

The dominant theme at the small museum on the waterfront at Adventure Bay revolves around the exploits of explorer Captain William Bligh. For a small fee, visitors can inspect historical maps, documents, paintings and other artefacts. Captain Bligh of “Mutiny on the Bounty” fame is credited with planting the first Australian fruit trees. He came to Bruny Island more than once; but his first voyage was as sailing master on the Resolution, the ship of Captain James Cook. The Bligh Museum is found at 876 Adventure Bay Road.


 

The Bruny Island History Room

The large collection housed in a former court house building details the life and times of Bruny Islanders. Early explorers including Captain James Cook and Captain Tobias Furneaux are featured, and visitors are advised to allow much time to browse. The Bruny Island History Collection is found in Alonnah on South Bruny, and features in Tasmania Island of Treasures by Sue Atkinson (page 112).

Captain James Cook - Tasmania Island of Treasures by Sue Atkinson
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Tasmania Island of Treasures by Sue Atkinson features the Bruny Island History Room

Truganini Memorial

In his article, Roger Findlay mentioned a memorial to Truganini, an aboriginal woman born on Bruny Island and married at the island’s mission in 1829. The memorial is located half way across The Neck (the isthmus between North and South Bruny Islands) near the lookout and penguin rookery.

Captain James Cook - Truganini Memorial
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A memorial to Tasmanian aboriginal Truganini at The Neck, Bruny Island (photo by Roger Findlay)

Captain James Kelly Information Board

At Dennes Point on North Bruny there’s an information board about Captain James Kelly. A whaler based on Bruny Island, Captain Kelly was also the harbourmaster of Hobart Town and the first explorer to circumnavigate Tasmania, which he did in an open whale boat. He is thought to have discovered Maquarie Harbour, Sarah Island and the stands of Huon pine on the west coast of Tasmania. Kellys Steps lead to Battery Point from Salamanca Place, near his burial site in St Davids Park.

Captain James Cook - Kellys Steps to Battery Point
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Walk up Kellys Steps to Battery Point from Salamanca Place in Hobart

Resolution Creek: Two Tree Point

Around the rest of Bruny Island, history enthusiasts will find other features of note. A walk on the beach opposite Bruny Island Berry Farm on Adventure Bay Road actually sparked our interest in this history.

Captain James Cook - Adventure Bay Road
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Looking towards Two Tree Point and Resolution Creek from Bruny Island Berry Farm

There’s a stone plaque noting the site of Resolution Creek, where the crew of the Resolution collected water for Captain James Cook in January 1777. When you study early European explorers from the history books in the school classroom, the significance doesn’t seem so great. But standing there, looking at that simple stone, we felt quite amazed by the whole scenario.

Captain James Cook - Resolution Creek
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Captain James Cook came ashore in 1777 to collect water from Resolution Creek, Bruny Island

Another information board at the Resolution Creek site talks of Two Tree Point. We were amused by that name. When you look around, there’s so many trees… why are the two on the point so significant?

Captain James Cook - Two Tree Point
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Sign at Two Tree Point marking where Captain James Cook collected water from Resolution Creek

According to the Tasmanian Heritage Council wesbite…

This place is important because it is an early European landing site within Australia, and demonstrates the evolution of Tasmania’s history. Both Captain James Cook and Captain William Bligh replenished their supplies of fresh water from Resolution Creek at Two Tree Point. Although it is not known whether the two trees on the point were standing at the time of these early European visits, it is known that in 1792 William Bligh spent two weeks on the ship the Providence at Adventure Bay.


 

During this time a member of the ships crew, Lieutenant George Tobin, produced a series of watercolours of the place. One of these pictures, ‘In Adventure Bay, Van Diemen’s Land’, shows a point with two trees on it. These trees look very like younger versions of the two trees that currently stand there. It has not been established conclusively that the two trees are those painted by Tobin. However, the two existing trees and their setting on the point correspond closely with the historical imagery of this early landing site, as depicted by Tobin. This area has changed little since 1792, and is evocative of the landscape that would have been experienced by 18th century European visitors to Tasmania.

Captain James Cook - Two Tree Point
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Two Tree Point, Adventure Bay Bruny Island, the site of Resolution Creek

The Bruny Island Ferry website is another really good source of historical information about Captain James Cook and the other European explorers to visit Bruny Island.

The History of Adventure Bay, Bruny Island

Have you wondered why Adventure Bay is so called? Tobias Furneaux was exploring the Tasmanian coastline with Captain James Cook in 1773. He anchored off the east coast of Bruny Island in his vessel, dubbed the Adventure...and there you have the source of the name. These days, you can rest awhile at the beachside picnic tables; absorb the scenery and imagine what the region would have been like in the 1700s.

Captain James Cook - Bruny Island
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Take in the scenery at Resolution Creek, Two Tree Point… just like Captain James Cook

It was four years later in 1777 that Captain James Cook was to sail the Resolution into Adventure Bay and stay for two days. Apparently his contact with the Tasmanian aborigines was amicable at that time. It’s a pity the same can’t be said of his 1779 encounter with natives in Hawaii, when Captain Cook was killed in a fight with the locals. That part of the school lesson we can remember!

If our history teachers had brought us on excursion to Resolution Creek
and Two Tree Point, we’re convinced we would recall a whole lot more
about Captain James Cook. But not to worry, it’s never too late to learn
and it seems the time and opportunity is right now. Like we said, there’s
so many reasons to visit Bruny Island… again and again and again!

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Map: Resolution Creek, Bruny Island…