Where we went: Fluted Cape (nuenonne/Bruny Island)
When we went: Spring 2020
Estimated time to complete walk: 2.5 hours
Time spent on walk: 3 (plus a 1 hour lunch break)
Grade of hike: 3
Sommelier and I often struggle to reconcile our love for food with our love of hiking. While such activities are not strictly mutually exclusive scaling a cliff with a backpack full of soft cheeses and cakes makes for a crumbly, sticky, sometimes smelly, extra element of challenge that is not always welcome (and that’s before we even bring full picnic/cheese belly into the climbing down mix). As a result our weekdays often involve a lot of heavy negotiation into whether we will be doing a “big walk” or a “picnic walk”. This week we landed on “picnic walk” as the weather has been lovely and there is still a lot of solitude to be found even on the easier walks as tourism isn’t quite back to its usual vigour. The rules for picnic walks are very simple, we choose a grade 3 walk near a good picnic sourcing shop and then carry our wares to a good spot for lunch with a view. As Sommelier carries our camera gear the task of picnic carrying falls to me, Sapphire. The selection of foods consumed also, generally falls to me, but I suspect that Sommelier is doing this for science (he suspects I have some hobbit DNA, the fact that I am 6ft has not deterred him from this line of inquiry). I have never been particularly invested in lightweight walking, preferring to deem all foods of suitable deliciousness essential to the trip. With delectability in mind we negotiated the next step in our “picnic walk” planning –location.
Our grade 3 of choice was Fluted Cape, selected almost exclusively for its proximity to the Bruny Island Cheese Company’s farm direct sales. The small possibility of whale watching from the peak did help to persuade us as well.
As we were travelling from Hobart city and under no particular time constraints, we spent a very leisurely morning gathering wares, starting with my personal favourite for takeaway sweets; the Lady Hester storefront. Sweets are a little tricky to come by on Bruny Island. There is a lovely chocolate shop in Kettering just before you get on the ferry, but we had our hearts set on cookies and malt loaf and a chocolate quinoa cake with Turkish coffee frosting that we ate well before we even set foot on Bruny island (I was able to argue that it counted as a serve of coffee and is therefore well within our wedding diet limitations [Sommelier is beginning to suspect that I’m not taking the wedding diet very seriously]).
As we were in Battery Point already, we also swung by Hill Street Sandy Bay to buy a stick of my favourite venison salami. There are cured meats to be sourced on Bruny, but I have a deep and abiding love for this particular salami, and it is best not to stand between a particularly tall hobbit and her snacks. Plus, this hobbit prefers to use as little plastic while hiking as possible and this salami comes with none, which is a huge bonus.
Already facing a full and heavy pack and still with the cheese course to be procured we made our way along the Southern Edge Drive Journey to the town of Kettering (a little over half an hour from Hobart), from whence the ferry to Bruny departs every half hour (in summer) from 6:30am to 7pm and leaves Bruny along a similar schedule. It is possible to book tickets in advance, but we always just buy our tickets on the day from the terminal. We made it just in time for the 11am departure and were happily at the final destination on our foraging foray by about 11:45.
As the name suggests, the Bruny Island Cheese Company makes cheese (on Bruny Island!). As appellation style cheese makers go they have a very large selection. There are a range of hard and soft cheeses, plus a larder stocked with relishes and preserves, also they bake bread every day as well. They do not make a blue cheese; however those who are a fan of a strong flavoured dairy product might enjoy the washed rind, Huon pine aged magic that is the 1792. We went with the Saint and the George because we thought they would travel best to our lofty picnic site. There is a licensed café at the cheesery, but we did not partake on account of our hiking goals.
Fully stocked and ready to head out we drove to the start of the Fluted Cape track; we parked at the Pennicott Seafood Restaurant car park where we stopped by their gift shop to look at some native flower seeds that I’ve been looking for (for wedding reasons). We also had a quick loo stop and would have stopped for lunch (the food is great!) If we hadn’t already stuffed my backpack.
It was just past noon when we were officially starting the walking part of the “picnic walk” which departs from the top left of the Pennicott Seafood Restaurant carpark and moves along the beach until the beach runs out, at which point it plunges into the bush. It is clearly signed and easy to follow once in the bush. Please note that this beach is a protected bird breeding ground so please stick to the wet sand and leave the soft sand dunes to the nesting birds. Failure to do so many see you swooped and seriously injured by an oyster catcher.
As it is a loop track you are free to choose which direction you travel and can either head up the hill from Grass Point Lookout where you will be greeted with a steep cliff-side walk offering views of the ocean, the peninsulas of mainland Tasmania, penguin island, and near constant sightings of the top of your final destination; or you can take the right hand turn before the lookout which moves into the bush along a shallower incline, through birdsong and pardalote paradise, popping out at the top of Fluted Cape with relative ease. We took this less steep bushland route, primarily because a downhill return journey appealed to us in the face of our impending cheese bellies.
The path is rocky, moderately steep, and densely wooded. We had one minor encounter with a tiger snake who did not wish to be photographed and quickly retreated to the safety of a fallen log well away from the path. Snakes, especially tiger snakes, are a very common sight in Tasmania. We have had many very close (and not always welcome) encounters, but mostly we both keep to ourselves and have no issues. We carry 5 bandages with us in warmer months (only 2 sanitary ones in winter), we generally walk slowly through areas that would make good snake habitats so that we can freeze in place easy if we come across one. As a further snake precaution I always walk in front; unlike Sommelier, I do not need spectacles to see and therefore have a fuller field of peripheral vision. I also assume all sticks are snakes until proven otherwise (tree roots and most fallen bark is also subject to scrutiny).
Bruny Island is one of the known habitats of Aurtralia’s rarest bird, the 40 spotted pardalote, and we were hoping to see one so we took a very quiet and leisurely pace through the woods, dividing our attention between the uneven ground below (absolutely littered with sticks), and the canopy above (alive with the chittering of birds). Sadly no 40 spotteds were spotted, but we did see a striated pardalote and a range of other small birds.
It was about an hour and a half of very slow walking with constant bird watching stops before we burst out of the bush to the unexpectedly close, alarmingly high sea cliffs that were our picnic destination of choice.
As we were alone at the peak we settled in at the very end of the track, agreeing, as a couple, to move along if anyone else came along wishing to enjoy the view. The afternoon air was still and sea below was only gently caressing the rocks. There were barely any waves, so the ocean took on the facade of a peaceful inland lake. We were undisturbed by other hikers until the very end of our foraged feast. Content with having basked in the sultry spring sunshine and admired the triumphant blue of the calm ocean below we packed up and carried on, leaving the lookout for others to admire our little island state from.
The Grass Point section of the trail is mostly she-oak and other slippery leaf-litter prone plants. The steep downhill made for occasional fraught moments of slippage, but there were no major incidents, and while the cliffs are visible for the entire way, they are a safe distance. We took many opportunities to admire the peak of the Cape bathed in the beating afternoon sun. Penguin island spread out below us, the soft calls of sleepy penguins occasionally carrying over to us once we were close enough to hear them.
Grass Point was reached much sooner than we expected, and we took a small rest on the pebbled beach to watch a white bellied sea eagle fly in a wide circle above us.
We were the Christmas dinner kind of tired when we returned to our car, full of rich foods and low impact, easily accessible adventure. We were surprised by how few other hikers we came across on the track given what he have heard of the track in the past. We would highly recommend this to those with an interest in birds and those who carry the hobbity passion for moderate adventure picnics. There are a lot of camping and accommodation options on Bruny Island for those wishing to extend their stay, but we only had time for a day trip and we made our way back to the ferry terminal to wait for our return journey back home for a little post-picnic nap.