Cape Queen Elizabeth Track
North Bruny Island
Directions - Located on North Bruny Island, after catching the ferry from Kettering, drive along Bruny Island Main Road for 18.5km. The small car park for the Cape Queen Elizabeth Track is located on the other side of the road from Bruny Island Honey. Walk through the gates to start the walk and follow the vehicle track towards the coast.
The Hike - With a New Years trip to Tasmania planned, with the South Coast Track as the main goal, I decided to tack on a few more days while I was here to explore the island further. Having visited a few times over the recent past, one destination that looked great for a summer visit was Bruny Island. A quick bit of research indicated I wasn't short of options for great hikes on the island, so when the logistics of tacking on a trip to Walls of Jerusalem or Frenchmans Cap proved a bit difficult for my short timeframe, I booked accommodation on Bruny Island instead.
After spending a rest day in Hobart after the South Coast Track, washing clothes, eating all of the food and catching up on life, I was ready to head out to Bruny Island. With three full days on the island to explore all the hiking tracks and various touristy places, it was going to be an action packed trip. After stocking up on supplies in Hobart, I made my way down to Kettering to catch the ferry across to North Bruny Island. My accommodation was located just north of The Neck, the small strip of land connecting North and South Bruny Island, and was right behind the Bruny Island Cheese Company. After settling in to my home for the next few days, I was keen to get out and hike the nearby Cape Queen Elizabeth Track as my introduction to Bruny Island. Diving into a 14km hike straight up, this would be more relaxing now I didn't have to carry my entire life on my back, like I did on the South Coast Track. Driving the short journey to opposite Bruny Island Honey, the car park was almost full but given it was school holidays, this was not surprising.
Arriving just after 1:30pm, I had plenty of time left in the day given it was near the summer solstice, so applied sunscreen and got going. The first part of the hike seemed pretty straight forward, an old vehicle track that has been gated off. While not thrilling walking, I was loving the large trees on each side of the track, creating a tunnel like effect that was nice to photograph. Reaching the blue Walkers Registration box, I signed my name in before continuing along. This first section is just the most convenient way to the coast, sandwiched between the Bruny Island Airstrip to your right, and some farmland to your left. Driving from the ferry, the north island gave me the impression it was more geared to agriculture for the main land use, while the south island contained more of the wilderness. This gentle start to the hike was pleasant enough, and I was enjoying spotting wildflowers dotted along the edge of the track. After a while, the hardened ground gives way to softer sand as you exit the forest and enter the coastal heath near Big Lagoon.
After a short patch of soft sand, I reached an area that had clearly had a fire rip through in the recent past given the blackened trees and thick regrowth. Feeling very much at home given how heavy handed prescribed burning is handled back in Western Australia, I was hoping it didn't last too long. Winding along, the burnt vegetation did mean I could see far and wide over Big Lagoon to my right and what a sight it was. The blackened skeletal trees provided something different to photograph and reminded me of the Bunker Bay Loop I had walked a few months earlier. Continuing on, I made my way past Big Lagoon and was soon on the edge of Little Lagoon, which you get a lot closer to, and as the name suggests is much smaller than Big Lagoon. It was looking lovely in the afternoon light and there were some larger trees towards the end of this stretch that were a welcome relief. Rising up a small hill, this marked another change of scenery with lower coastal scrub being the main vegetation type all the way to the beach.
The fire had not made it this far but a new obstacle presented itself in the form of a really overgrown track. Usually I wear hiking pants, no matter what the weather is like but for this hike I had decided to hike in shorts given it was near the coast. This proved a silly choice as the scrub and grasses brushed up against my leg, with the track barely visible in places. Luckily it didn't last long and I was soon staring at the wooden sign pointing you either to the low tide route or up Mars Bluff, which is the high tide route. I was within a couple of hours of low tide, so was hoping this would be enough to grant me passage along the beach, rather than take Mars Bluff. Wandering down to the beach, there were a few people here just chilling next to the limestone cliffs. I ventured down to the edge of the water and hopped on the limestone to see if I could find a way across. The water was probably crossable if I removed my shoes and waded through but I decided to take the high tide way and see what it was like on the way back, given that would be closer to low tide.