We were offered a cruise on the Peppermint Bay II to write this review for Think Tasmania. We thought it would be a good day out; one of the better days on our schedule, in fact. But in reality, we were blown away by the experience. This cruise in one word? Fantastic, fabulous, amazing… choose any of those! And here’s a few more words (and pictures).
After booking our tour-time via Peppermint Bay Cruises, we departed from Sullivans Cove. The friendly staff provided a voucher to park the car nearby for $8/day. They also confirmed dietary requirements for our lunch.
Boarding commenced at 11:15am, and within 15 minutes we were motoring in the 23 metre catamaran named Peppermint Bay II. Away from the Princes Wharf, home of the Taste Festival, and out towards the Wrest Point Casino in Sandy Bay.
The first thing that impressed me about the inside of the luxury catamaran, was the variety of seating options. We had window seats which gave a beautiful view through the picture windows, and I can only imagine how special the view from the captains upper deck must have been. But if you’re travelling in a group or with children, they have family lounges, which are curved around a table for drawing or drinks, slightly raised for optimum viewing. (Next time, kids – I promise!!)
To make the most of the occasion, we thought it essential to sample some of the boutique beers from the on-board galley. The apple-accented Huon brew from the Two Metre Tall Company in New Norfolk (one of the Galley Beers of the Week) got the thumbs up by the time we cruised passed the Taroona Shot Tower and slowed for photos of the impressive Alum Cliffs. We even sampled the delicious white chocolate and raspberry biscuits for morning tea. Research!
Captain Peter took a slight deviation from the usual route when he spotted the Sea Shepherd anti-whaling vessel heading off towards the Antarctica. The powerful engines were ramped up, and we sped towards them for a supportive wave, which their crew returned to us.
There were several decks to explore on the Peppermint Bay II, so we ventured right to the top at this point, just as we turned across the wake from the Sea Shepherd and headed back into a strong breeze.
Despite my previously stated aversion to boats and sea-faring activities, it was quite exhilarating being outside. Wind in the hair and all that. The other passengers seems to enjoy the on-board camaraderie judging by the amount of laughter. And we all applauded the trio of young ladies who managed to conquer the top deck without spilling a drop from their wine glasses. Of course, the galley had plenty more.
Back in the calm waters of the D’Entrecasteaux Channel between Bruny Island and Tinderbox, we paused to drop an underwater camera into the marine sanctuary. We turned our attention to the TV screens inside and were treated to a lesson about the fish and colourful seaweed living below the surface.
Meanwhile, the windows had another rinse with fresh water, just to ensure our views to the majestic scenery remained clear. How considerate is that?
More marine experiences were in store as we continued on towards Woodbridge, past the salmon farms. We could see fish jumping from their aquatic pens; and our appetites started to jump accordingly! So a welcome stop-over to collect lunch from Peppermint Bay was next on the agenda.
Lunch from Peppermint Bay Restaurant, Woodbridge
Briefly docking the luxury catamaran, a golf cart with a trailer was waiting on the jetty for the crew to collect the freshly prepared, local produce. I have to admit, I had made an assumption about lunch before booking that proved to be wrong. I thought passengers would be presented with a communal buffet, but the award-winning Tasmanian restaurant caters for individuals taking into account all dietary requirements. If you prefer, you can even disembark to dine ashore.
But we stayed aboard and left the bay (named after the peppermint gum trees that supplied firewood to settlers), turned down our tray tables and with great anticipation, opened our lunch boxes. Between the two of us we had an oyster, some potato, spinach & orange salad, quiche, olives, feta cheese, stuffed vine leaves, marinated artichoke, mushrooms, cured meats & salmon, pickles, radish and a little pate. With the Peppermint Bay now converted to a floating restaurant and cruising slowly about Bruny Island, we have to say that lunch was a pretty good experience.
The following hour was spent in Woodbridge, wandering through the tiny village and checking out the providore and gardens surrounding the Peppermint Bay restaurant. We bought a slice of chocolate, whisky & raisin cake; and a pear & raspberry muffin (on the pretense of having a souvenir for the kids). But sadly the cakes didn’t make it home. We did tell the kids how delicious they were though!!
Bruny Island, Bellerive and Tasman Bridge
With the sun streaming through the windows, it was very tempting to close the eyes and snooze through the journey home, but there was still too much interesting commentary to sleep. We passed the Mirambeena Ferry on one of its daily runs from Kettering to Bruny Island, all the while hearing from our guide about the French exploration of Tasmania. Alex, on the microphone throughout the trip, gave us an insight into the history and marine life of the local area, all from memory and very well explained.
All too soon we were returning via the Eastern Shore, past the communities of South Arm and O’Possum Bay, and then Bellerive Oval, home of the Tassie Tigers cricket team. On under the Tasman Bridge, where we heard about the 1975 collapse disaster and the changes to maritime safety implemented since. And then just when we thought all the fun was over and we were heading back to Sullivans Cove… dolphins!
Dolphins Greet the Peppermint Bay Cruise!
Thank goodness the Peppermint Bay II is well balanced, because once the Captain mentioned dolphins, we all (very rudely) abandoned Alex and his commentary and ran outdoors to get a better glimpse. Probably more interested in catching some squid than performing for a crowd, the dolphins eventually swam near the boat and we had a good look at them. Without too much effort, they had a whole boat-load of people awestruck. And between us, I imagine we took quite a lot of photos!
Peppermint Bay Cruises also operate Wild Thing Adventures and Bruny Wildlife Adventure Tours. After the day we had on our cruise, I imagine they would also be good value. But of course we’ll need to confirm that first-hand, and get back to you!
Think Tasmania toured as a guest of Peppermint Bay Cruises.