The Hobart

King Island: Less Royal, Still Grand

by Lily Whiting
King Island: Less Royal, Still Grand

Anchored in a stretch of no man’s land between us and Victoria, King Island is an uber relaxed, grassy island, equally hugged and battered by its surrounding oceans. More of a fishing-like village than a commercial tourist hotspot, a recent four day trip was spent a little slower than anticipated, but like its wallaby and crayfish population, widely welcomed by all.

Getting around

There are no buses or public transport, so a hire car is a must if you want to explore. While it was thirsty on the $2.60/L fuel (ouch), it was necessary so we could make it to all capes and troughs of the island. Once we started driving, we very quickly stopped counting each cow personally and began estimating the inhabitants of paddocks that call the rolling grassy hills of King Island home. Google says an odd 100,000 cows which means our estimating game was way off.

The road to Cape Wickham. Pic: Adam Gibson

Exploring

Being a relatively low lying (162m at its tallest) landscape, wind is inevitable. A southerly wind shot us up to the northern tip to Cape Wickham on day one, marking the southern ‘eye of the needle”, only a mere 90 km stretch from Victoria’s Cape Otway. Take a terrible double-chin selfie trying to fit in the scale of Australia’s tallest lighthouse in all its glory. Beyond the townships, there are nil cafes or lunch jaunts – instead opt for a picnic table overlooking one of the many beaches with a packed lunch. The coastlines are not underwhelming in the slightest, with the Eastern shores mildly reminiscent of the East Coast with their speckled orange rocks, fine pale sand and teal waves. Similar to the first, each day started slowly, followed by avoiding the wind and a simple lunch overlooking a coast­line, preferably uphill of the kelp drying on the shoreline. To hide from prevailing winds, take your picnic or dinner and make yourself at home in the Restaurant With No Food. Lunches and picnics can be as basic or boujee as you like here, all for a little donation but make sure you do your washing up, there’s no dishy here.

Crayfish. Pic: Lily Whiting

Eating

If we were whinging about the price of food on mainland Tasmania, spare a thought for locals of King Island. We opted to keep the food side of things in house for breakfasts and lunches – home-cooked breakfasts, plunger coffees and filled rolls for lunches. Allow for an extra 20% as a minimum added to your food budget if purchasing from local supermar­kets, a little (a lot) more for fresh produce. King Island crayfish and beef were a lavish exception to our subdued diet plus an extra night spent at the King Island Hotel for a surprisingly well-priced and solid pub meal. Aside from the pub, the brewery and distillery are both quaint and worth a visit, for a chin wag at the very least. The brewery has been operating for a mere 18 months, with no beer leaving the island, and Heidi is an enthusiastic spirit lover with a rustic tasting room and petite still just out of Currie. A visit to King Island wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the dairy for a wedge, or three, of cheese. Cheese tastings are compli­mentary, best with some bubbly. Not all cheese makes it off the island, sometimes they save the best to be bought onshore, so be sure to squeeze a wedge of pepper­berry aged cheddar into your suitcase. If there was a crowd favourite establishment in our four days on the island, it would have been the local bakery in Currie. Dozens of pie flavours scribbled on a blackboard and a cake cabinet brimming with old school bakery delights. Vanilla slice, a baked passionfruit tart and one of those long donuts filled with jam and cream, an inner child’s delight!

The Restaurant With No Food. Pic: Stu Gibson

Sleeping

With everything in an easy driving distance, we stayed at Grassy, a small sleepy town 35km from the hub Currie. A former mining town, many fibreglass houses were a little worse for wear, however ours had been beautifully constructed with any and all types of decorations and gimmicks found on the island. Being only 24 kilometres wide and 65 kilometres long, with a car, sleep anywhere you like.

Cattle at Pearshape. Pic: Adam Gibson

Keep in mind

Everything else can be negotiated except for two things, small planes and only Telstra service. Although only a 45 minutes flight from Burnie/Wynyard, if you aren’t a fan of small planes and bumpy rides, motion sickness tablets are advised. If you’re an Optus customer, enjoy the switched off holiday! Four nights and five days was a slow way to see King Island but like any trip away, it allowed for everyone to slow, settle and sink into the relaxed nature that locals clearly love. Anything less and it would still feel like Tasmania.

Love this

Close
Cold Water Wake Up Call
It seems everywhere I turn someone is talking about or participating in cold water swimming right now.
A Short Geelong Getaway
Since the Spirit of Tasmania terminal moved from Melbourne to Geelong late last year, a visit to Geelong has been on the radar.
27 Hobart Friends Get Snipping For One Off Wine
The borders were declared shut in Tasmania on the 30th of March, 2020; the first stare to do so amid the COVID- 19 pandemic and hard lockdown of Hobart followed.
Danphe Nepalese and Indian Food + Peppermint Bay Bar and Bistro
Nepalese food is a comfort in our house. Having spent much time trekking and mountain climbing in Nepal as a younger man, Nepalese food is something I always love to go back to.
That’s DR Hannah Gadsby To You
From Smithton to Netflix and the Emmys stage, Tasmanian stand up comic Hannah Gadsby has forged an unlikely path. Following on from the massive success of her shows Nanette and Douglas, Hannah brings her new show Body of Work to Hobart this month.
PODCAST: Incat founder Robert Clifford on why electric boats are the future
Robert Clifford is the founder of Incat, a Hobart company building fast ferries for the world. Always looking to future opportunities, he has identified where Hobart sits in the next wave of transportation. For more of this interview listen to The Hobart Magazine podcast.
Is Tourism Ready For More Forestry Wars?
Tasmanian forests are special. They’re home to centuries-old trees, including the tallest flowering trees on the planet, and support unique native species. Yet not everyone agrees on how these forests should be managed.
Hobart Chefs: When The Obsession Becomes Real
Tasmania’s brand as a foodie haven is cemented. But within the local hospitality industry there are those who love to use local produce...and those who are next-level obsessed with it. We spoke to a bunch of Hobart chefs who are top of the game when it comes to fostering relationships with local farmers and growers.
Did You Know Australia’s First Female Doctor Was Hobartian?
Tasmania, despite its small size and population in comparison to the mainland, has produced more than its proportionally predicted percentage of significant figures and heroes of Australian history. 
Return Travellers Adding Pressure to Hobart Housing
For all of us 2020 was a year like no other, punctuated by rapid change and plenty of new challenges. For vulnerable people in Tasmania, including people facing homelessness, those on low incomes and those facing increasingly higher rents, it was very challenging. We are seeing a growing demand for homes in Tassie from international travellers returning home, people moving for work and others seeking the lifestyle that our Apple Isle has to offer.
Magazine
AboutContributeAdvertiseNewsletter Sign UpContact
May 2024

Stay up to date with everything happening at the Hobart Magazine.

Thank you to Luke Brokensha for mobilising his friends and local residents recently to host two rubbish clean ups along the Hobart Rivulet after heavy rains.
The warm weather returns...hello summer.
Need a laugh? Check out @theinspiredunemployed feed on Instagram.
Moto Vecchia Cafe in Bellerive and Czegs Cafe in Richmond have joined the Clarence City Council dementia program, creating dementia-friendly spaces for all patrons.
It’s hard to believe it’s not standard practice to have a working phone in every aged care room - shared phones make private conversations impossible and increase the risk of spreading COVID-19.
Tacks on the tracks. Mountain bikers beware of tacks being left on certain tracks on the mountain.
Just when you think your cousins are alright. NZ Opposition Leader Judith Collins took aim at Tassie during her recent (unsuccessful) campaign, calling us Australia’s “poor cousin.” She also seems worried about us nabbing tech businesses, “It’s a lovely part of the world but do you necessarily want to go there with your high- tech business? Possibly not,” she said. We beg to differ!