Australia’s seventh largest island, King Island is best known for its superb dairy produce, seafood and its beef being among the best in the world. The pace of life is far slower than just about anywhere else in Australia and the locals – there are only around 2,000 of them – boast that the only traffic delays they encounter are wallabies, turkeys, possums and pheasants, to name a few.
Situated between Victoria and mainland Tasmania at the western entrance to Bass Strait, King Island is only a 50 minute flight away from Melbourne, but it might just as well be 1,000 kms away, given the stark contrast between the laid back way of life here and the hustle and bustle of the Australia’s second largest city across the waters of Bass Strait. Because of its relative isolation, King Island receives less than ten thousand tourist a year (compared with two and a half million in Queensland). This, combined with the windswept jagged reefs and deserted long sandy beaches, make it the ideal destination for those seeking peace, tranquillity and respite for the pace and pressures of modern day living.
The island itself is a pastoral idyll. Angus and Hereford beef cattle and assorted dairy breeds wander the fields. Wild pheasants, peacocks and turkeys wander the paddocks and roads, safe with the absence of foxes and rabbits on the island. King Island produces some of the world’s best produce, King Island Dairy’s cheese and dairy products command boutique prices on the mainland and internationally. The island’s crayfish and abalone have equally enviable reputations Most people who live on the island are either farmers or are involved in the manufacture of local beef, which is hardly surprising since the island’s cattle breathe some of the cleanest air in the world and eat some of the greenest grass in Australia.
This 64km long by 27km wide stretch of land is rich in history, with shipwrecks and lighthouses all telling stories of the island’s colourful maritime past. The infamous Roaring Forties gales which even today bring westerly winds of 100km per hour are said to have caused more than 60 shipwrecks along the island’s treacherous coastline during the 1800s.
A few Aboriginal middens have been discovered pre-dating the end of the last ice age when the island was connected to Tasmania and the mainland by a land bridge. Incredibly, human occupation seemed to have ceased for unknown reasons after that time.
Air transport is the only we you can get to King Island unless you are prepared to brave the elements on a supply vessel. Aircraft a number of time daily between King Island and Devonport and Burnie (Tasair) and Melbourne (King Island Air; Regional Express; Shortstop Air Charter). There is no public transport on King Island, however cars can be hired and tours of the Island are available through a number of operators.
King Island Trail Rides: Discover King Island on horseback. Ph 0429 621 163
King Island Discovery Tours: Ph 03 6462 1118
King Island Tours: Ph (03) 6461 1177
King Island Coaches: day and half day tours. Ph 1800 647 702
Currie Lighthouse Tours: Ph 0439 705 610
Puddle with the Platypus Adventure: Ph 0439 705 610
Climate; The Best Time To Visit:
King Island’s climate is milder than either Tasmania or southern Victoria, despite a bit of wind and rain, which makes it ideal to visit at any time of the year. The annual King Island Race Club horse racing carnival season begins in early December and continues past New Year’s Day. In March there is the Imperial 20, a 20-mile (32km) foot race whose 1hr 28min record is held by Steve Moneghetti and attracts an increasing number of high profile national runners. The Melbourne to Grassy Yacht Race is conducted in March.