Would you like to join an Adventure Cruise and write about the experience? That was the question posed to us by the marketing manager at Bruny Island Cruises. Here at Think Tasmania we love to cover award-winning tourism ventures, and for the last four years this one has been voted the best tourist attraction in Tasmania. That category has some pretty hot competition so this mob are obviously good. My problem was this: when sea-legs (and maybe even bravery) were handed out, I was obviously holding the door!
Adventure Cruise: Pennicott Wilderness Journeys
Avoiding this adventure cruise just because I’m a big chicken, would have been seriously negligent. We are dedicated to writing about all things Tasmanian, after all. So we booked ourselves aboard. And I’m very happy to report that I survived the day with the contents of my stomach entirely intact. Not only that, I found the experience exhilarating and truly worthy of all the accolades.
Originally, I planned to give you my “top five” features of the Bruny Island Adventure Cruise. But I honestly couldn’t narrow the list down to only five. So here’s my thoughts about the day.
The Staff ~ these guys are first class! You won’t ever meet a group of people more considerate and caring; funny and friendly; or passionate about their jobs than the team who work for Rob Pennicott. He’s chosen his staff very well. Everyone from the check-in counter and the cafe; to the boat and the bus drivers… they’re all 100% committed to providing efficient and competent service with a really big smile.
The Bus Tour ~ joining the full-day tour meant boarding a bus at the docks in Hobart. Immediately, we were on a journey rather than just a drive. Matt, our completely gorgeous 23-year-old driver, was upbeat and knowledgeable, pointing out features and giving us insights into Hobart. The “best Italian restaurant” and a “cool maritime pub” as we drove through Battery Point; then Wrest Point Casino over in Sandy Bay. People were included in the conversation, and it seemed like a day out with friends rather than strangers who’d just met.
Kettering ~ we arrived at the Huon Valley ferry terminal 20 minutes before The Mirambeena was scheduled to leave for Bruny Island. That gave us time to grab our first coffee for the day and check out the marina. Not a bad little collection of boats!
Bruny Island ~ after a 15 minute, smooth-as crossing, we began our drive to Adventure Bay on the cusp of South Bruny National Park. Along the way, Matt gave us details of food producers, wildlife, farming, fishing and beaches. We saw enough to know it’s somewhere we need to visit again as soon as possible.
Rob Pennicott ~ once we’d been served our morning tea in the cafe, we joined with other adventure cruise customers. Some had arrived under their own steam and others had joined the bus convoy in Kettering. Rob thanked us all for coming, gave an amusing talk and wished us an exciting time. It was a joy to meet the current Tasmanian of the Year, widely known as a philanthropist and pioneer of the ecotourism industry.
The Boats ~ we made our way to the Adventure Bay jetty and boarded the bright yellow machines, ready to take on the adventure cruise. Our skipper for the day, Mick Souter (who was also utterly gorgeous) was joined by Matt, Malcolm and a mixture of young, old, excited and nervous passengers; about 45 in total. Everyone had a terrific view, and it didn’t take long to realise the engines were pretty powerful as we zipped out into the bay.
The Adventure Cruise ~ fed a brief safety talk, some ginger tablets and a few jokes, our three-hour tour to the Southern Ocean was then underway. “It’s not meant to be easy” were Mick’s exact words as he took the wheel with a glint in his eye. At that moment, I considered jumping off and swimming back to the safety of the cafe. But I would’ve missed one of the best things I’ve done in Tasmania so far. The cliffs, the caves, the wildlife, the ocean. All mesmerising and breathtaking, and something you have to see for yourself to really appreciate.
Seals ~ if I had to choose a single highlight from the day, it would be the Australian and New Zealand Fur Seals. Friar Rocks, at the southernmost point of the Bruny Island adventure cruise, host a huge colony of the mammals. They weren’t in the least perturbed by our presence or the insane amount of photographs we were taking. Some seals swam around the boat; others continued to laze on the rocks. Amazing! But here’s a challenge for you: imagine the smell of 1,000 teenage roomies; all blokes! Soon to be launched as a signature scent… not likely!
Lunch ~ unfortunately, we returned from Friar Rocks without a dolphin sighting. Apparently the calmer the day, the less likely the sighting. But I’d take a calm day anytime! And we were treated to chocolate biscuits as a consolation prize, so that’s not so bad. Hot soup, gourmet salad rolls and drinks were ready for us back at Adventure Bay, and we had another chance to mingle and compare photos as we enjoyed a lovely lunch.
Bonus Points ~ giving people more than they’re expecting… often the difference between a good business and a great one. Chocolates with lunch (the way to my heart), and then the hint of more surprises to come as we boarded the bus for the homeward drive. Between the cafe and the ferry, we stopped ever-so briefly at Get Shucked Oysters and Bruny Island Smokehouse with just enough time to buy a few goodies. And as one last considerate gesture, Matt offered to take a detour in Hobart to deliver passengers directly to their accommodation. What a gem!
Bruny Island Cruises: Other Important Details
This report wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention seasickness. My advice would be: plan ahead for the possibility of rough weather. Remember Mick’s words about making it to the Southern Ocean! I took my own tablets with morning tea, and then took two ginger tablets (provided by Bruny Island Cruises) on board. Stay calm, keep cool and embrace the awesome experience… if I can do it, anyone can do it! Remember my scaredy-cat credentials?
Keeping cool shouldn’t actually be a problem. The weather was calm and the temperature 28C when we joined Pennicott Wilderness Journeys, but the boats go really fast and you are in southern Tassie. Naturally, it’s going to get cold. Pack a jumper! And if you’re a really cold frog, also pack a beanie and some gloves. There’s room on board to carry a small backpack with warm clothes, sunscreen and a drink bottle. Each passenger is provided with a red spray jacket. It’s a long, poncho-style number (so if you were determined to wear a dress on an adventure cruise, you’d still be covered).
Follow the Yellow Boat Road
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the good work of Rob Pennicott, Mick Souter and their cameraman Zorro Gamarnik. After my three-hour eco-adventure cruise, I have a renewed appreciation for their 2011 endeavour: the first-ever circumnavigation of Australia in an outboard-driven boat. Between June 2 and September 11, they travelled around the entire cost of Australia. In two dinghies!
That might seem a little crazy, and maybe that’s true; but the Follow the Yellow Boat Road campaign was devised to raise money for the worldwide eradication of polio. 92% of proceeds from the journey were donated to Rotary for this cause, and the rest will continue the important conservation works of the Pennicott Foundation. Inspiring.
Think Tasmania travelled as guests of Bruny Island Cruises. For more information, visit their website or phone (03) 6293 1465