Australia’s seventh largest island, King Island is best known
for its superb dairy produce, seafood and its beef being among the best
in the world. The pace of life is far slower than just about anywhere
else in Australia and the locals – there are only around 2,000 of
them – boast that the only traffic delays they encounter are
wallabies, turkeys, possums and pheasants, to name a few.
Situated between Victoria and mainland Tasmania at the western entrance
to Bass Strait, King Island is only a 50 minute flight away from
Melbourne, but it might just as well be 1,000 kms away, given the stark
contrast between the laid back way of life here and the hustle and
bustle of the Australia’s second largest city across the waters
of Bass Strait. Because of its relative isolation, King Island receives
less than ten thousand tourist a year (compared with two and a half
million in Queensland). This, combined with the windswept jagged reefs
and deserted long sandy beaches, make it the ideal destination for
those seeking peace, tranquillity and respite for the pace and
pressures of modern day living.
The island itself is a pastoral idyll. Angus and Hereford beef cattle
and assorted dairy breeds wander the fields. Wild pheasants, peacocks
and turkeys wander the paddocks and roads, safe with the absence of
foxes and rabbits on the island. King Island produces some of the
world’s best produce, King Island Dairy’s cheese and dairy
products command boutique prices on the mainland and internationally.
The island’s crayfish and abalone have equally enviable
reputations Most people who live on the island are either farmers or
are involved in the manufacture of local beef, which is hardly
surprising since the island’s cattle breathe some of the cleanest
air in the world and eat some of the greenest grass in Australia.
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Where Is it?
Where is it?: Flinders Island is located in Bass Strait off the
north eastern tip of Tasmania and is part of the Furneaux Island group.
This 64km long by 27km wide stretch of land is rich in history, with
shipwrecks and lighthouses all telling stories of the island’s
colourful maritime past. The infamous Roaring Forties gales which even
today bring westerly winds of 100km per hour are said to have caused
more than 60 shipwrecks along the island’s treacherous coastline
during the 1800s.
A few Aboriginal middens have been discovered pre-dating the end of the
last ice age when the island was connected to Tasmania and the mainland
by a land bridge. Incredibly, human occupation seemed to have ceased
for unknown reasons after that time.
Air transport is the only we you can get to King Island unless you
are prepared to brave the elements on a supply vessel. Aircraft a
number of time daily between King Island and Devonport and Burnie
(Tasair) and Melbourne (King Island Air; Regional Express; Shortstop
Air Charter). There is no public transport on King Island, however cars
can be hired and tours of the Island are available through a number of
Best Time To Visit
King Island’s climate is milder than either Tasmania or
southern Victoria, despite a bit of wind and rain, which makes it ideal
to visit at any time of the year. The annual King Island Race Club
horse racing carnival season begins in early December and continues
past New Year’s Day. In March there is the Imperial 20, a 20-mile
(32km) foot race whose 1hr 28min record is held by Steve Moneghetti and
attracts an increasing number of high profile national runners. The
Melbourne to Grassy Yacht Race is conducted in March.