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King Island: Australia's gourmet secret

Thursday, September 9, 2010
There's no doubt Australia is blessed with wonderful choices when it comes to great food. Dermott Brereton travelled to King Island, officially part of Tasmania, sitting in the wild seas of the Bass Strait. It's less than an hour's flight from both Melbourne and Hobart.

King Island is just 64km long and 27km across. It has beautiful beaches, rocky coastline and the only way to reach it is by plane.

The little dot is proud of its world-class produce and happily stacks itself up against the best there is, and particularly in the beef, seafood, dairy and kelp stakes. It's a food-lover's paradise. It's just one big, beautiful green farm.

Unpolluted Roaring Forties winds and water from Antarctica are credited with creating the excellent environment. Animals exist in stress free land that has never experienced the horrors of drought.

King Island Dairy

At the island's main employer, you can try before you buy at the on-site, temperature-controlled fromagerie. Visitors see a DVD about the cheese-making process before selecting from the world-renowned dairy products.

The dairy produces high quality French-style creamy camembert and brie, and blue cheeses, as well as sharp cheddars, hard cheeses, yoghurt and thick cream. Desserts such as Belgian chocolate and coffee caramel are heavenly.

Award-winning cheeses are made from milk produced by 7500 cows on 25 dairy farms. When you see how green the paddocks are, it's no wonder contented cows produce such excellent creamy milk.


The waters around King Island are a joy for anglers. They seldom head for home without a catch. If you fancy dangling a line, locals will tell you the best spots. Catches range from Australian salmon, gummy, school shark, mullet, sweep, snapper, king fish and flathead. The Sea Elephant oysters are delicious. Three of the islands lakes are stocked with brown trout.

The prize from the sea is crayfish. If you would like to catch your own, ask one of the locals who has a fishing license and hitch a ride.

King Island Bakehouse

If you rather someone else do the hard yards but adore crayfish, you must try one of Audrey and Wayne Harmer's gourmet pies. There's plenty of cray in the local delicacy and it's probably something you will want to enjoy more than once. Other pies are shark, camembert and asparagus and beef. All have been given the nod of approval by the Getaway crew.

The Harmers make varieties of shortbread, tiny chocolate éclairs, slices, traditional Christmas puddings from a 200-year-old recipe and bread rolls and loaves are baked every day. You can eat in or takeaway. There are plenty of good places to enjoy a picnic and with all that marvellous food and unbeatable views, you will have a day to remember.

Rocky Glen Restaurant

King Islanders reckon they produce the best beef in Australia, and if you want to put that to the test, Rocky Glen Restaurant's chef, Joris Weitjens, knows just how to prepare it. He says his job is made easier when he is working with premium beef and to show how happy he is, Joris just might sing a few songs.

If the weather is kind you can sit on the balcony and enjoy a cocktail followed by first-class food and views, accompanied by excellent wines. You can take your meal to enjoy at yet another beautiful spot if you want.


With everything being so pure on King Island, Cloud Juice bottled water is pristine rainwater — they say the most pristine in the world. The process is simple. It rains, the tanks fill up, the water goes to a factory where it is run through filters and ultraviolet light, it's bottled and sent out! Almost everything is done by hand — they even polish every bottle before it's boxed.

Related: Peppers food trail north of Hobart


King Island in Bass Strait.


King Island Dairy Fromagerie tasting room is open every day except Saturday between noon and 4.30pm.

Virgin Blue has one-way flights to Melbourne from:

  • Adelaide $79
  • Sydney $90
  • Canberra $99
  • Brisbane $129
  • Darwin $179
  • Perth $245

There are limited seats which may not be available at peak times or on all flights. Fares quoted are one-way booked on the internet. An extra $15 will be charged for phone bookings. A credit card surcharge of an additional $2 per person per one-way flight is applicable. Fares are correct at September 9, 2010, and are subject to change.

Connections to King Island are available with Regional Express.

Prices correct at September 9, 2010.

For further information

Virgin Blue
Ph: 136 789

King Island Dairy
North Road
Currie 7256
Ph: (03) 6462 0962
Fax: (03) 6462 0952

Cray Fishing
Guy Barnes
Ph: 0427 621 691

King Island Bakehouse
5 Main Street
King Island 7256
Ph: (03) 6462 1337
Fax: (03) 6462 1337

Rocky Glen Restaurant
1 Lovers Lane
King Island 7256
Ph: (03) 6461 1103

Cloud Juice
Wharf Road
King Island 7256
Ph: (03) 6462 1761
Fax: (03) 6462 1632

User comments
I don't know why people are so coy about giving the details as to how to book to King Island. Like, all that information is given to whet the appetite then you're not told how to get there.

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