Tasmania, Australia
Bonnet Island

Resembling a teardrop by the open maws of Hells Gates, Bonnet Island is a surprisingly peaceful sanctuary for its penguin inhabitants and the human companions they attract.

When they say island, what locals really mean is a small rock outcropping anchored off the West coast of Tasmania in the vast Tasman Sea. Situated at the entrance to Macquarie Harbor, the island is a secluded outpost once inhabited solely by the keepers of the lighthouse which still stands today. The angular tower juts out from behind the stout shrubs covering most of the island and is in close proximity to the squat dwellings of the keepers which were retained as a cultural monument to the work they have done in the past. The lighthouse still contains trinkets and reminders of its keepers who stayed up through dusk and dawn to guide ships through the boulder-strewn entrance to Macquarie Harbor. Its brick walls are steeped with tales of tragic shipwrecks and valiant rescues throughout its years of operation. Beyond the human artifacts still preserved on the island, the real highlight of the trip is without a doubt the black and white tuxedoed birds roosting on Bonnet’s rocky shores. The little penguins and short-tailed shearwaters fish in the frigid waters no matter rain or shine and return to their burrows only in the evening. Against the setting sun, you can view the thronging flocks of birds up close, so bird lovers will find this especially interesting. Watching nature’s creations at an arm’s length has a beguiling quality to it, impressing upon you how much such a tiny island is able to offer.

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Tips Before You Go
Cruises are the most common way to travel to Bonnet Island and tour it. There are twilight cruises which sail regularly at dusk from Launceston and allow visitors to spend slightly over 2 hours on the island chasing the waddling creatures for a photo opportunity. The tours that operate take on a maximum of 10 passengers and often require pre-booking. If you plan on getting up close with the wildlife, make sure you check where you’re standing too. Some of the rock cliffs here can be rather precarious, so don’t risk your life for a few photos.
Macquarie Harbour,, TAS, Australia