Birdwatching in Tasmania - Bruny Island
Remember the number twelve if you’re heading to Tasmania. That’s the number of endemic birds found there which are found nowhere else on the planet. And while it may seem like the odds are against you to spot twelve distinct birds in the wilds of Tasmania, there’s actually a good chance you’ll see most on the list.
Bruny Island, located just south off of Hobart, runs 100km long and is broken into North and South Bruny by a skinny isthmus with a name that sounds like an old-timey mobster - ‘The Neck’
Unlike any actual mobsters, though, The Neck is known for its Little Penguins and Short-tailed Shearwaters, which return to their burrows there at dusk in large numbers from September - February each year. We visited in March, so sadly we missed the evening entertainment, however we were not disappointed one bit.
We stayed on the South Island of Bruny Island, which is where most of the action is. The island is deceivingly large, so you will need a car as the ferry drops you off on the North Island (we rented one in Hobart at the airport). The size of Singapore, Bruny Island has more sheep than people living there. It’s pastoral and idyllic and driving through the island once you’re off the ferry you’ll feel like you’ve gone back in time. I have a theory that all islands have the ‘Island Vibe’ regardless if they’re tropical or in this case closer to Antarctica. The vibe is very simple and the same each time - time stops.
Our birdwatching took us to many different places on the island, but our absolute favorite was the Inala Jurassic Garden. The name Inala might sound familiar to birders as they run birding tours in Australia and around the world, but their HQ, is on the south island of Bruny Island, where they have a private conservation reserve that you can visit by staying in one of their accommodations on the reserve. We had already booked our airbnb before doing our research, so sadly we missed out on staying there, but plan to the next time we visit. There are bird hides in the reserve as well as the chance to help feed raptors. All 12 of Tasmania’s endemic species have been spotted there.
But fear not if you don’t stay on the reserve - you can still visit their Inala Jurassic Garden which is a five acre botanic garden on the reserve with over 600 species representing the Gondwana period 185 million years ago when that crazy blob of mass known as Gondwana split apart to make all the continents. The gardens are truly stunning and we saw almost all the Tasmanian endemic species there!
Just as a side note, there is also a small fossil museum as part of the garden. We purchased a tote bag from it and paid in the office, so we got to meet the people who run Inala and they were absolutely lovely.
Each night we ate at Hotel Bruny, which is the best food on the island. Located on the South Island, we recommend it for its delicious local seafood. Sitting along the water’s edge, you can watch the sunset over a basket of local calamari while sipping a Tasmanian craft beer after a long day reflecting on the birds you’ve seen.
In addition to birdwatching and eating at Hotel Bruny, we went for a LONG walk on the Fluted Cape Track, which winds up almost 300 meters to the summit and took us 3.5 hours. It had stunning views, but we recommend it only for experienced bushwalkers who are okay with uphill scrambles. Exercise caution at all times on the track as there are steep drops. After a particularly sweaty afternoon on the Fluted Cape, we finished our day at Hotel Bruny (of course), but the island has so much more. There are local honey stands and farmers, including FUDGE that was out of this world at the Bruny Island Cheese Company.
Long-story short folks: we loved Bruny Island and we loved seeing Tasmania’s beautiful endemic birds, including the endangered Forty-spotted Pardalote, one of Australia’s rarest birds.
The full list of Tasmania’s twelve endemic birds is:
Tasmanian Native Hen ( we saw at Inala)
Green Rosella (we saw at Inala)
Dusky Robin (we saw at Inala)
Tasmanian Thornbill (we saw at Inala)
Tasmanian Scrubwren (we saw at Inala)
Yellow Wattlebird (we saw at our airbnb)
Yellow-throated honeyeater (we saw at our airbnb)
Black Currawong (we saw at our airbnb)
Forty-spotted Pardalote (we saw at Inala)
We’d love to hear what you see in Tasmania or any other tips for birding there. Since we always pair our outings with beers, our recommendation Tasmania is:
Local food: Scallop Pie
Local Beer: Anything from Bruny Island Beer Company