Cape Queen Elizabeth: Discovering the incredible Bruny Island Arch
Wind-whipped and delicately chiseled over thousands of years into intriguing geometric patterns, the layered cliffs and jagged rocks at Miles Beach were eventually worn away to form a perfect archway in the sand, looking directly onto the tumultuous Tasman Sea.
But Bruny Island’s dramatic coastal Arch is every bit as maddeningly alluring to behold as it is maddeningly difficult to find information about online… First entranced by an un-captioned photo on the front of a Southern Tasmania tourist map, I finally made it to the mysterious Cape Queen Elizabeth Arch, finding myself overwhelmed by scenery that was far better than I’d even been imagining.
All the details: Cape Queen Elizabeth Arch
Drive 30min from Hobart to Kettering and catch the Sealink across to Bruny Island (more details in this post)
The Cape Queen Elizabeth trailhead is located on Bruny Island Main Road (directly across from Bruny Island Honey)
2hrs if taking the bluff path at high tide, 1.25hrs if taking the beach path at low tide (including photo stops)
Easy; at low tide, you can walk all the way to The Arch on a wide, flat trail, and even at high tide, there’s only about 10min of gentle uphill and a short section of downhill on the other side to reach the beach
This is such a well-graded, easy path that there’s no need to wear hiking boots (I did it in Tevas!) or carry trekking poles; do be sure to check the tides before setting off, as this will dictate which path you can safely take
There is no water or other facilities at the trailhead, but several local shops are nearby (Bruny Island Honey right across the road)
5 STARS for an easy walk that brings you directly to the incredibly unique geometric Cape Queen Elizabeth Arch
Cape Queen Elizabeth
After an amazingly quick ferry ride from Kettering (just outside of Hobart) where we didn’t even have to hop out of the car, dad, Eileen, Callum, and I drive about 20min down Bruny Island Main Road to the Cape Queen Elizabeth trailhead, located directly across the street from Bruny Island Honey.
I’d been trawling the internet for days in search of information about the beautiful Arch that featured in so many of the brochures and maps I’d grabbed from the visitor centre in Hobart, and finally this morning, just in time for our visit today, I discovered that the Arch lies somewhere along the Cape Queen Elizabeth track. How far, we don’t know, and what impact the high tide will have on our view, we also don’t know.. but we set off anyway, optimistic that the stunning rock arch will make it all worthwhile.
From the carpark, we walk along a wide, well-graded sand trail for about 30 minutes before reaching the track junction. Given that I had estimated the hike to be just 20min each way, we are a bit surprised to pass people and learn that we have another 5km to go.
Since the tide is nearly at its highest point of the day, we also learn that we will need to take the higher route up and over Mars Bluff, backtracking a short distance along the beach to find the Arch. Luckily, though, the ascent and descent of Mars Bluff are not at all challenging and offer beautiful views of the coastline below, even if it is somewhat “smoked out” by the nearby bushfires.
Mars Bluff & The Arch
After descending Mars Bluff and making our way back along Miles Beach towards the rocks, we finally catch our first glimpse of the incredible Arch that brought us here. Wind tangling my hair into a nest and filing down my teeth, smoke hanging in the air, and significant cloud cover blocking out the sun, conditions today are less than ideal, but surprisingly none of it detracts from the Arch.
We spend the next 30min photographing every angle of this geological wonder, marvelling at just how secluded and almost secretive the spot has remained, despite its obvious appeal to travellers (or anyone with eyes).
It is only the promise of lunch at Bruny Island Cheese & Beer Co. that finally pulls us away, trudging back up Mars Bluff, down along the sandy track, and stepping back into our car with a swelling feeling of success.
Overall impressions: Cape Queen Elizabeth Arch
It was surprisingly challenging to find information about the Arch online, or even in one of the many brochures that have used its image as a cover, but the mystery of what we would discover at the end of the trail almost made the experience even better.
In low tide, it’s possible to walk a shorter and more direct route to the Arch, but even in high tide, this natural rock formation is primed and ready to be photographed. It may have been longer than the 20min walk I was anticipating, but the substantial rewards on arrival would merit a trail 10x this long.
This is truly one of the most unique spots in Tasmania, and possibly even in the world, so it is absolutely not to be missed when on Bruny Island!
Read more about our adventures in Tasmania