When most Victorian families are heading north seeking sunshine, this winter my family packed our thermals, polar fleeces, down jackets, beanies and gloves to be the voluntary caretakers at the Bruny Island Quarantine Station.

With my husband and I both employed in the environmental field, we are always out and about in nature with our children to expose them to the environments that we are passionate about. However, the chance to disconnect from the daily grind and immerse ourselves on Bruny Island for a month was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Caretakers live in the original Doctor’s residence built in 1885 and the site is open to the public five days a week. Every morning we walked as a family half a kilometre to open the main gate and raise the flag and then it was back to the site to greet visitors and provide information on this historic site managed by Parks and Wildlife Tasmania together with the Friends of Bruny Island Quarantine Station (FOBIQS).

Between visitors, there was Shelter Cove to explore to find crabs and sea urchins; Quarantine Bay with its jetty pontoon for fishing; oysters and mussels to gather low tide; and the bushland reserve with abundant wildlife.

On our days off we explored Bruny Island with bush walks to Cape Queen Elizabeth and Grasse Point; explored the rock crevices and sand dunes at Miles Beach; sailed to the Southern Ocean with Pennicott Journeys to see seals, dolphins and the most spectacular coastline; and travelled to visit fellow caretakers at the Cape Bruny Lighthouse.

Whilst spending a month in winter, in Tasmania, in a one bedroom cottage with two small children may not tick all the regular ‘holiday’ boxes, the experience for our family and our children has exceeded our expectations. Their wonder and amazement at close encounters with wildlife, the opportunity for them to explore wild natural environments without orchestration, to allow their imaginative play and interaction with nature to be virtually limitless has been spectacular. Our time on Bruny Island gave our family wonderful experiences and memories we will have forever.


The Bruny Island Quarantine Station is located at 816 Killora Road, North Bruny. Opening hours are Thursday – Monday 10am – 4pm. Applications for the voluntary caretaking program are advertised via the Wildcare website www.wildcaretas.org.au


Elise and family


Harvey checking the visitors information at the Station gate

Senior Caretakers, Elise and Mark enjoying the afternoon sun with Junior Wildcare volunteers Charlotte and Mark

Charlotte and Harvey enjoying a sunshine lunch on the Quarantine Station heritage verandah.