If you like food, or drink or nature or animals or history, you have to go to Bruny Island and the only way to get there is by taking the Bruny Island ferry.
While there are only 3 kilometres between Bruny Island and the Tasmanian mainland (at the closest point), there is no bridge connecting the two so all visitors to Bruny Island have to jump on the ferry.
The Bruny Island ferry is very different to every other ferry I’ve been on but it’s very easy to travel on. This guide has everything you need to know about travelling on the ferry service to Bruny Island Tasmania from costs to bookings to what to expect onboard.
Bruny Island Ferry details
The only ferry between Bruny Island and the mainland is run by Sealink and departs from Kettering. The ferry only stops at Kettering (40 minutes from Hobart and right next to the Huon Valley) and the Bruny Island terminal at Roberts Point. Unfortunately, there are no free ferries and no other stops on the island.
If you’re travelling to Bruny Island on a day tour from Hobart then you won’t have to worry about managing the ferry as tickets etc will all be arranged by the tour company. Everyone else needs to book the ferry for themselves/their vehicle.
Taking a vehicle on the ferry
You can travel on the ferry either as a walk-on pedestrian passenger or as a passenger vehicle. Pedestrians don’t need to buy tickets for the ferry. I’m guessing this is because there’s very little demand for this as you would have to have someone picking you up on the other end. There were no pedestrians on our sailings.
If you take your vehicle over, you just pay for the vehicle and any passengers (provided they fit inside) are free.
Any vehicle can be taken on board as long as it’s under 6m, we took our Leisurerent campervan over without any trouble. Vehicles over 6m can be carried over but you’ll need to make specific arrangements with Sealink.
Bruny Island Ferry tickets
Tickets for the ferry can be bought online, ahead of time or at the time of departure from the hut at Kettering.
The way the ticket system works is that your ticket is valid for a return trip at any time within one year of purchase. There is no option to select a particular date or sailing time, instead, you just show up on the day that suits and if the ferry is full you have to wait for the next one.
Bruny Island Ferry Cost
There are three classes of tickets, Regular (most expensive), Saver and Super Saver (cheapest). Costs for a return ticket in each category are shown in the table below, there are no one-way tickets.
There are also discounts for Australian pensioners and different pricing for bikes and motorbikes.
Each sailing is allocated as either a Regular, Saver or Super Saver sailing, with the early morning and late-night sailings being the cheaper ones.
HOWEVER, if you buy your ticket online, you pay the Regular price, even if the sailing that you actually travel on is a Saver or Super Saver sailing. We thought that it was worth the extra $12 to know we had tickets sorted, have the flexibility of departure time and speed up the boarding process.
Departure from Kettering
When you get to Kettering, follow the signs for the ferry and drive up to the ticket booth where you can either purchase your ferry ticket to Bruny Island or simply show your confirmation email. The attendant at the booth will direct you to join one of the four queues of vehicles to be loaded onto the ferry.
Once in the queues, a second attendant directs each driver when it’s their turn to drive onto the ferry and which line to join once onboard. There are generally four lines of vehicles parked across the ferry, each 2-6 vehicles deep.
Boarding for the ferry starts as soon as the arriving vehicles have all cleared the ship such that the ferry is constantly loading, unloading or sailing.
Vehicles are loaded on a first-come-first-served basis subject to space (ie a small car might go on ahead of a mini-bus) so if the boat fills up you just have to wait for the next one.
The ferry is essentially a flat barge with two open sides at the front and back for driving on and off, a protective wall on the north-facing side and a south-facing side with a semi-enclosed seating area for pedestrians.
When onboard, you remain in your vehicle, parked with the engine off. Some people did get out for photos but I think you would be better off taking pictures the before or after getting on the boat.
The trip is only about 20 minutes long and it’s such a smooth sailing that we initially didn’t realise we were moving. We travelled on a bad weather day with horrible winds so if it was smooth then, I can’t imagine it ever getting rough on the ferry. You won’t need to worry about seasickness unless you’re someone who can’t cope with boats whatsoever.
There are no amenities or facilities on the ferry or at either wharf so you’ll need to find bathrooms etc elsewhere in Kettering or on Bruny Island.
Arriving at Bruny Island wharf
At Bruny Island, you exit from the opposite end of the boat so you don’t have to do any reversing. As with boarding, there is staff walking around directing drivers when to go.
The ferry berths at Roberts Point which is around 45 minutes from the main township of Alonnah. There is nothing really at Roberts Point so you need to drive south to see the main attractions like The Neck, Bruny Island Lighthouse and most of the foodie spots.
Bruny Island Ferry times
The ferry to Bruny Island runs three times every hour between 6 am and 7 pm during the week and from 7 am on the weekends with a break between 12:30 pm and 1:20 pm for lunch.
The times listed on the Sealink site schedule aren’t perfectly reliable but because the services are so frequently there’s effectively a boat loading or unloading at all times so you won’t be left waiting long.
Weather conditions and cancellations
The ferries are cancelled only very rarely. The crossing from Lettering to Roberts Point is quite sheltered because of the shape of the coastlines so this means the ferries can run in almost all weather conditions. On our trip, the Maria Island ferries were cancelled but the Bruny Island ferries still went ahead. The best place to check for any service updates is on the Sealink website or Facebook page
We really enjoyed taking our little campervan on the Bruny Island ferry and it was a super easy process from boarding to return trip. It would have been impossible to explore the island the way we did without taking our own vehicle over, so the ferry system is great for letting you do this.
You can find more Tasmania travel guides on my Australia destination page.
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