Category Archives: King Island
Cape Wickham calling
Cape Wickham is the northern most tip of the Island, 48 km from Currie. It’s a mostly sealed road with about 7 km of smooth gravel to reach the Lighthouse and golf course. Before settlement King Island was a heavily timbered island with thick tea tree scrub. There are remnants of this in the south-east, but in the north it has been largely cleared. It is now covered with beef and dairy cattle grazing on very rich pastures, many head to the acre.
Along the way we stopped off at a few of the beaches and rocky outcrops. One of the touristy things to do on KI is to visit the cairns and plaques that have been placed on the shoreline marking the areas where numerous ship wrecks occurred in the 1800 and early 1900s. Many of these occurred due to the lack of a lighthouse on KI. Ships coming through Bass Strait sailed too far south and, particularly during the frequent storms, ran into the numerous reefs off KI. The loss of the Cataraqui in 1845 prompted the building of the lighthouse at Cape Wickham in 1861. Over 400 free immigrants, half of them children, aboard the Cataraqui died. Many are buried in unmarked mass graves near the beach. There were only 9 survivors from the Cataraqui and to this day it is Australia’s worst ever peacetime disaster.
At 52 metres the Lighthouse is the tallest in the southern hemisphere and is constructed of KI granite with 3 metre thick walls at the base. Quite a spectacular backdrop to the new links golf course which runs along the shoreline. The beach here is actually in play at one hole and serves as a bunker. The course is attracting golfers from all over the world, with charter groups flying in for lunch and a round of golf.
The eastern side of KI is more protected from the prevailing westerlies and the bays and beaches are long and sandy. We dropped in on Disappointment Bay, not a soul to be seen anywhere. There were large granite boulders strewn along the shore, crystal clear water and rolling waves would make this a good surfing spot in warmer months.
Currie was calling and we needed to head back to Craypot Cottage for dinner. A lobster was in the fridge for dinner.
Next day we are headed home to Brisbane. It’s been a great few days on KI. The food has lived up to expectations. Particularly, the melt in the mouth filet steak (with garlic butter sauce, Leanne had an equally good pepper sauce) at Admiral Benbow’s Restaurant in the Currie Golf Club. If you are ever on KI don’t miss it!
King Island time
The day after the Long Table we were a little sluggish. We also had to move house, so it was to be a quiet day.
We were off to Craypot Cottage, which sits on the hillside among the native vegetation overlooking the Southern Ocean. On a clear day one could see South America, if it wasn’t so far away. The local mayor has cornered the market and is bottling ‘Cloud Juice’, the clear unpolluted water from the skies. It is brought to the Island from across the sea by the roaring forties. He sends it all over the world. Much like the local lady who evaporates sea water and flavours the resultant sea salt with garlic, dried celery and seaweed. It is served at Parliament House in Canberra and is also sent all over the world.
Nearby Craypot Cottage is Currie Harbour and the local Lighthouse. Beneath it sits the Boathouse Cafe. It is ‘owned’ by Caroline, our landlord at the Craypot Cottage. It is open to one and all for lunch and dinner. The only trick is that you bring your own food and use the BBQ and other facilities. It seems to do a roaring trade with someone in it most days. We took some Fish n Chips there for lunch.
The Cottage is a great little spot surrounded as it is by the native vegetation, as well as resident wallabies perching themselves on the verandah looking in expectantly for their weet-bix.
Off tomorrow for Cape Wickham and the famous Lighthouse.
King Island Festival ‘Long Table’
We have previously heard about this event, not sure where, and had thought that it was one of things one should do. If the opportunity arose. One of the advantages of the Green Ponds cottage is that it is only a short walk to where the long lunch is held. In the morning we had gone out for a short drive over to Grassy on the other side of the Island, about 30 km away. Grassy was previously the main population centre but it is now fairly thinly populated. It had a scheelite (used in steel making) mine which had been closed a few years ago, throwing 700 or so out of work. Many houses abandoned. Anyway we rushed back to Currie so we wouldn’t be late. After sharpening ourselves up we set off on the short walk to the location of the Long Table.
Arriving right on time at 12.30 pm. It seemed a bit quiet. Anyway we eagerly climbed the stairs and burst through the doors to be met by puzzled looks from some wait staff mingling near the door way. They said we were early. And they were right, we Queenslanders hadn’t put our clocks back for the end of daylight saving. They didn’t kick us out, just sent to the verandah to sit it out with a glass of wine.
Soon the masses were arriving, about 160. Three long tables. The guest of honour was Martin Clunes, of Men Behaving Badly and Doc Martin fame. He was on the Island doing a documentary on Australia’s Islands.
It was a great afternoon of eating and chatting with one and all. All life long buddies by days end. There were 6 courses (modest sizes) showcasing seasonal Island produce, followed by a KI cheese plate. All rather good.
A few snaps tell it all.
The 6th course featured a desert of Cinnamon bread pudding with local poached quince and clotted cream. This was followed by a plate of KI cheeses.
It was a great lunch. Maybe something to do again. It also makes one thankful to be able to enjoy such great food. It was a long slow walk back to Green Ponds.
We have been here on King Island now for a few days. For those loyal readers who don’t know where King Island is, it is at the western edge of Bass Strait which separates the mainland of Australia from the island state of Tasmania.
It’s a wild and woolly place with very variable weather; sunny one moment, rainy the next, super windy one day, calm the next. We are staying in a small cottage, Green Ponds, in the middle of Currie, the largest town on the island.
The main reason for popping down here from Brisbane was to attend the annual Long Table Festival. This 3 day event has as its main attraction a ‘long table dinner’, which runs from 12.30 pm to 4.30 pm (technically). We actually finished about 6pm. But more of that later.
Our first day was fully occupied by a tour of various farms and agricultural pursuits. A biodynamic organic farm operation that produced some great little carrots and just the sweetest beetroot and tomatoes. Then onto the KI Cheese factory, little needs to be said about this, just some great cheese. Next was the seafood processor where we saw some fresh southern rock lobsters and giant crabs that had not long been brought in by the fishing fleet. One significant lobster specimen was about 3.5-4 kg and would bring close to $400 when it hit the end consumer. Octopus and eels are also a bi product of the catch.
Other spots along the way were at a beef cattle property. A stop at a wool, possum hair spinner, cum feral cat skin processor establishment in the forest. She was an interesting lady to say the least. Leanne subsequently acquired some of her wool for a scarf project, would not come at a cat skin though.
Also learnt something of the abalone industry on the island and the difference between black lipped and green lipped abalone. And, yes the difference is that one has black lips and the other green lips. The green ones though seem to be more sought after.
In between all this we fitted in a lunch, which show cased a selection of these various products. A long day ended with ‘welcome drinks’ and canapes at an art gallery. Unfortunately, we missed out on the crayfish sliders which were gobbled up fairly quickly while we were outside admiring the view.
Next morning we set off for a drive down to Stokes Point which is the most southern point on KI. The road gets progressively worse all the way to the end. Starts with bitumen, then gravel, then a sandy type track, then stones. It winds it way along the coast, in some sections it would seem that the sea would come across it in a storm.
The main attractions along this route include the cliff top look out at Seal Rocks and the nearby calcified ‘forest’ of tree roots that date back about 7000 years.
Closer to Stokes Point is the Sealers Wall, constructed in the early 1800s by sealers to herd seal up against to assist in the slaughter. We couldn’t quite get to Stokes Point, as there is a small watery causeway to cross.
The road back didn’t seem quite as arduous and we arrived back in Currie in time for a KI scotch filet at the local hotel. Not a bad end to the day!