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Australia's island for foodies

13:00 AEST Fri Nov 25 2011
The mention of King Island conjures up visions of wonderful meats, creams and cheeses people find in favourite deli. Dermott is one of those people and he decided to visit to see what else the island has to offer. From its rugged coast to hundreds of hectares of farmland, it's a relatively untouched place.

One of the islands making up Tasmania, King Island lies off the north-western tip of the state in the Roaring Forties of Bass Strait.

Dermott's first tip to get the most from your visit is to hire a car. The second tip is to tap into local knowledge. Everyone is proud of their island and keen to steer you in the right direction.

It's not set up for droves of tourists, so it's a good place to take your own sense of adventure.

Currie is the main town where you will find everything you need. The centres of Grassy and Naracoopa are around half an hour away.

There are no hotels or resorts, but Portside Links is a great place to stay. The former golf course in Grassy Harbour on the south-east coast of the island has two luxury self-contained units and a bed and breakfast suite. There are views across Bass Strait, and the beach and penguin colonies are just 300 metres away.

Owners Ken and Marilyn Chapman first visited King Island as tourists from Victoria. It was love at first sight and they relocated, purchasing the golf course in 2002 and putting in four years of creativity and hard work.

You can self-cater using delicious local produce and sit on the front lawn with cheese, crackers and a bottle of good red as thousands of wallabies bounce around and penguins come in from the sea.

Confirming just what a creative place King Island is, The Gallery at Portside Links has Marilyn's works and those of other talented local artisans on exhibit. They are, of course, for sale. The cafe serves a variety of beverages and light refreshments.

Caroline Kininmonth went to King Island in 1989 and stayed. The potter, watercolour and kelp artist was drawn by all that she found. The land, the sea and the shore.

You will find her at The Pottery, as well as seeing her works on display at the boatshed on Currie Harbour. She is inspired by kelp, rocks, shells, beaches and timber.

Kelp is King Island's most valuable export next to crayfish. It's been washed ashore since the dawn of time and is among the world's richest alginates.

Visitors can see the Kelp Craft factory where the sheets of it are delivered and hung by hand to dry. Kelpers are happy to chat and it's amazing how many uses their product has. Food, cosmetics, textile printing, pharmaceutical and industrial applications. A valuable industry indeed.

Kelp Craft was created by Lorraine Powell. Along with Betty and Bevin Collins they have mastered the art of making hats, figurines and animals from the bull kelp. They have perfected a drying method which gives the effect of fashioned leather or ceramics.

Dermott described King Island as a floating dairy farm with a difference. It has some of the best imaginable surf breaks. There are around thirty or forty of them and Guy Barnes was happy to show Dermott where to find them.

When Guy isn't in the surf, he's one of the island's builders. If you are keen to find the best breaks of the day and need help tracking down a board, give him a call.

While you're out and about, pay a visit to Currie Lighthouse and head to Cape Wickham to see the largest lighthouse in the southern hemisphere. It's a great place to have a picnic.


King Island in Bass Strait, between Victoria and Tasmania.


Portside Links accommodation starts at $180 a night.

Prices correct at November 26, 2011.

For further information Portside Links
Grassy Harbour Road
Grassy 7256
Ph/Fax: 03 6461 1134

Caroline Kininmonth
The Pottery
Wharf Road
Currie 7256
Ph: 0429 641 180

King Island Kelp Craft
6 Currie Road
Grassy 7256
Ph: 03 6461 1464
Fax: 03 6461 1465

Guy Barnes
Ph: 0427 621 691

King Island

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