Sounds from Tasmania: Bruny Island.

Waves lap the shoreline at Adventure Bay.

Bruny Island is located off the south-east coast of Tasmania. Its secluded bays and forests make it a drawcard for local and international visitors, yet it is impossible to escape the island’s brutal colonial past while travelling along its shores.

Known to the local Aboriginal people as Alonnah Lunawanna, the first recorded landing of a European on the island was at Adventure Bay in 1773 by the French sea captain Tobias Furneaux. By the early 1800s this quiet island was under the control of the British government. Its indigenous people were either confined to missions or had been murdered.

Truganini is perhaps the best known of Bruny Island’s Aborigines. Born in an area overlooking the D’Entrecasteaux Channel, by the time Truganini was 18 years old her mother had been murdered, her two sisters had been abducted by sealers, and her fiancĂ© had been murdered whilst trying to save her from abduction. She is famed for her work as a translator for the English missionary George Robinson in an attempt to protect her people from the murderous acts of the British.

Small ripples of water pass over hydrophones at D’Entrecasteaux Channel.

Despite her service to the government Truganini lived her last years exiled in a mission near Hobart. Watching those around her dying from disease Truganini requested her ashes be scattered into the D’Entrecasteaux Channel on the western side of Bruny Island. Contrary to her wishes Truganini was buried in a women’s prison upon her death in 1876. Years later her body was exhumed and studied for scientific purposes. Soon afterwards Truganini’s body was displayed at the Tasmanian museum from 1904-47.

Waves splash under rocks at D’Entrecasteaux Channel.
In 1976, with the centenary of her death approaching, Truganini’s ashes were scattered into the D’Entrecasteaux Channel as she had requested. Decades later two museums in England admitted to possessing some of her skin and hair.

Frogs at a pond near Cape Bruny lighthouse.
South of Truganini’s ancestral homeland is Australia’s third oldest lighthouse at Cape Bruny. Built in 1838 it overlooks dramatic cliffs, coastal heathland and marshes. This stretch of coastline was well-known to sailors 100 years prior to the British colonisation of Australia in 1788. Here the sounds of the ocean, birds and frogs merge into one.

Hydrophonic recording of the Bruny Island car-ferry as it approaches the terminal.

Bruny Island can only be accessed by boat. A local car-ferry operates between the island and the mainland, it’s engine being part of the port area’s soundscape. Every couple of hours in the water’s cold depths the crackling sounds of snapping shrimp are overwhelmed by the approaching ferry as it transports another load of cars to and from the Tasmanian mainland.

2 thoughts on “Sounds from Tasmania: Bruny Island.

    1. Thanks – the more I listened to my recordings after the holiday, the more I realised there was a big focus on water. Maybe because the bays and inlets are smaller and more sheltered down there, making it easier to record. And yes, the holiday was amazing.


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