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King Island, famous for cheese, crayfish, beef, and golf, and don’t forget the beautiful scenery, friendly people, and the tallest lighthouse in Australia.
There’s no passenger ferry to King Island so, if you don’t have a boat your options are limited to flying in from Burnie, Wynyard, Launceston or Melbourne. We flew in from Melbourne and hired a car from the airport.
We stayed at Rocky Glen Retreat, a group of buildings facing out to Bass Strait on the Eastern side of the island – very peaceful and quiet. The island is not big, so wherever you are you are not too far from the main town of Curry.
King Island sits in the path of the Roaring Forties, the winds that rush across the Pacific Ocean. The island has taken advantage of these winds with a large wind farm augmenting the power being generated by a large solar array, and now trialing a wave device to capture the power of the ocean.
You can visit King Island’s famous cheese factory and sample the various cheeses produced in this clean environment. Our visit to the island coincided with the local agricultural show and the running of the local marathon from one side of the island to the other.
It’s well worth a visit to Cape Wickham lighthouse on the northern tip of the island. Originally established in 1861, the lighthouse is 48 metres high and has 220 steps to the light. The lighthouse was automated in 1920 but there are still a few remains of some of the buildings used by the original lightkeepers.
There’s a history of shipwrecks on the island. Some ending in huge loss of life particularly in the early years of Australian settlement by new arrivals from England.
There’s plenty of clean beaches to wander along, and some dramatic rough coastline. In recent years some world-famous golf courses have been established, adding an additional attraction to the charms of the island.
An unusual industry on the island is the harvesting of kelp. We watched as they used a winch and steel cable to haul the long lines of kelp that had washed up on the beach and rocks. The kelp is initially sun dried and then processed at the factory for export.
We’ll long remember the hospitality we received at Rocky Glen Retreat and the tasty crayfish dinner they organised for us.
Email from Ben: “I plan to climb Cradle Mountain when we visit the area in a few weeks – better start training”. So I reduced my alcohol consumption to one glass of wine a night (well, most nights) and did a bit of walking (on the flat) at weekends, so when we started our trek on a fine February day I was completely unprepared for what lay ahead.