Johanna Leggatt, The Guardian, March 24, 2015
King Island may not be the home of day spas and banana lounges, but this windy dot of earth in the middle of Bass Strait – the body of water separating Tasmania from the mainland – is not without its seductions. It’s home to some of the most delicious beef and cheese in Australia, some spectacular beaches, walks and trails, a handful of world-class golf courses under construction, and that all-important holy grail of island holidays: serenity.
You will need to hire a car (there is no public transport on the island), but be sure to engage in the King Island two-fingered wave to other passing vehicles or risk appearing like the tourist that you are.
Local artist Jason Roberts (who is engaged to the author of this piece) paints King Island landscapes, and here’s one of them. Photograph: Jason Roberts
4pm: King Island golf club
Kick off your weekend getaway in the island’s main town, Currie (population 800), with a few pre-sunset drinks at the Boomerang by the Sea restaurant, which has 270-degree ocean views. Then head to the nearby King Island Golf and Bowling Club for dinner, where the restaurant incorporates much of the island’s lauded seafood (including crayfish when available) and produce on its modern Australian menu. Those who truly want to experience island life should head to the King Island Club (it’s like an old-school pub with a bistro) after dinner for a drink.
9am: Harbour Road Cafe
Coffee time! Locals are mourning the loss of Renae’s Coffee and Cafe, which was recently lost in a fire, but do not despair – there is a second option for a caffeine hit. Harbour Road Cafe has above-average coffee and you can grab some poached or scrambled eggs for breakfast. Wash it all down with a bottle of Cloud Juice, also known as King Island rainwater, which is the brainchild of mayor Duncan McFie.
McFie isn’t a fan of the local town water, so began selling water “from the cleanest air in the world”, which he now sells locally and overseas. It’s bottled from King Island rainwater and tastes really clean and delicious. You can buy Cloud Juice at the King Island bakery for $2.50 for 375ml bottle; $3.50 for a litre bottle.
10.30am: Seal Rocks
Next it’s a 40-minute drive to the beautiful Seal Rocks reserve, which is a rocky cliff face that descends steeply into the roiling Southern Ocean. It is a breathtaking sight. A short walk from the reserve car park takes you to the forest walk (30 minutes return), where you’ll discover the calcified root systems of a 7,000-year-old forest and maybe even spot an echidna.
The rugged, windswept coast of King Island. Photograph: Jason Roberts
1.30pm: King Island Bakery
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, it’s time to head back into Currie for a pie at the bakery. Let’s be clear, however: these are no ordinary pies. The crayfish pie ($14) is made from the island’s prized local shellfish, and while the other pies are also delicious, this is the one to go for.
Crayfish pie, made locally on King Island. Photograph: Johanna Leggatt for the Guardian
2pm: King Island museum
During the mid to late-19th century, the island was the scene of a number of shipwrecks, as migrant vessels became unstuck by the rocky waters of Bass Strait. King Island became a land of sealers, miners, hunters and finally, when the post-war soldier settlements were established, farmers. You can trace this history at the local museum, which features an entire room of artifacts from the shipwreck Netherby, including the red tartan blanket used to keep the shipwreck survivors warm. The King Island museum is on Lighthouse Street in Currie. Admission: $5 for adults; children $1.
Sunset: penguin parade
It’s time to head to the harbour in the township of Grassy to view the little penguins as they waddle in from the sea each evening. Depending on what time of year it is – and when sunset occurs – this could be before or after your dinner.
The author walking her dog along the jetty in King Island. Photograph: Jason Roberts
6pm: King’s Cuisine
Local chef Stephen Russell makes great use of the local produce in his meals, and you never know what you’re going to get on any given evening. Choose one of the dishes from the ever-changing blackboard menu, order, sit back and enjoy. Bookings are recommended but not obligatory. Main meals cost between $20 and $35 and make use of the local produce. Think steaks, seafood, and curries.
10am: Cape Wickham drive
You’ve probably seen images of the Cape Wickham Lighthouse on the King Island tourist brochures and now it’s time to check it out for yourself. Pick up a picnic lunch in Currie (the local Foodworks does hampers) after your morning coffee and jump in the car for the 40-minute drive up to the north of the island.
You can also stop at some of the beaches along the way (including the impressive Martha Lavinia, where Kelly Slater flies in to surf). The lighthouse, which is the tallest in Australia, is a perfect spot to read a book while enjoying a picnic.
The King Island dairy. Photograph: Jason Roberts
2pm: King Island Dairy
Wend your way slowly back towards Currie, but before boarding the afternoon Sunday flight off the island, you have to pay a visit to the King Island Dairy. The next-door fromagerie has a room of King Island cheeses that you can taste, and there are even scorecards and pencils supplied so you can rank each cheese according to flavour. It would be remiss of you to board the plane without a wheel or two in your suitcase, especially considering the cheese is much cheaper than it is on the mainland at close to half the price.
Where to stay
Portside Links Luxury Apartments
255 Grassy Harbour Rd, Grassy Harbour
03 6461 113
Devils Gap Retreat
Charles St, Currie
0429 621 180
- All flights leave from Melbourne via Rex airlines. Prices start from $350 return.
This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk
This article was written by Johanna Leggatt from The Guardian and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.