Sometimes a place that you hear about lingers around the edge of your consciousness for years, like a background note that recurs from time to time. People often have lists of places to visit before they die, places that have a magical reputation for whatever reason. Bruny Island now would have taken a place of prominence on my list, even though I knew little about it before we came here. It is a magnificent, sparsely populated island, southeast of Tasmania, and pretty close to Antarctica compared to other places in the world. The island is about 70 miles long and has a narrow, winding shape. There are only 600 permanent human residents here. The rest is untamed bush, wild and teeming with wildlife. We are utterly captivated by it. Perhaps Alaska is a bit like this, although since we've been here it has been quite warm and sunny.
We came across on a small ferry that took about 15 minutes. Margaret brought us first to her lovely home to drop off luggage, and then to lunch at Dennes Point, the northernmost tip of the island, where there is a great cafe, gallery, and community center located high on a hill overlooking the channel between Bruny and Tasmanian Island. After lunch we walked along a stretch of deserted sandy beach for awhile, then home to explore this home where we are now staying. Margaret & Donough built every inch of it themselves, taking years to work on it while they lived on their boat. It boggles my mind each time I look around at all they have made: a beautiful home, art studio, workshop/boatyard, jetty, huge outdoor gardens, many small out-buildings, all carved ingeniously out of the bush with the greatest artistry and comfort by their amazing strength and resourcefulness.
Donough is a boatman, boat builder, carpenter, and jack-of-all-trades. He is Irish and a scholar, handsome, learned, and crisply humorous. Margaret is an amazing artist, working in mixed media with all the things she finds in the world around her. She draws exquisitely and her art work is found all over the island. She also can do/make anything and is strong as an ox, although petite. They couldn't be more charming and generous as hosts (sound familiar? This is the repeating tale of visiting Australia by the Lucky Girls Society!).
Later in the afternoon we took a long walk through the bush where we encountered dozens of wallabies, small kangaroos, most of whom had baby "joeys" in their pouches. Some stared back at us, others hopped offstage as quickly as possible, but there seemed to be no end to them. We walked through idyllic gum tree forests and down onto a rocky beach with the most gorgeous and striking stone formations. All around us was silence broken only by birdsong and the crackling of twigs underfoot.
Dinner in front of a roaring fireplace rounded out the first evening here and we fell into bed with a crash! Bed is tucked like a sea bed, raised up and built into a niche in the wall. We look out at a bush trail leading down to the Bay, where the family boats sit at anchor.
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Location:Bruny Island, Tasmania