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King Island

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King Island - Cities, Towns and Localities

Located in the Bass Strait, amid the constant force of the ‘Roaring Forties’, King Island isolation and close proximity to mainland Melbourne and Tasmania is part of its appeal. The rustic charm of the island, lived and worked by people who would not call anywhere else home, has produced a tight knit community whose products and produce are exported around the world. King Island today is renowned for its main export of cheese, dried kelp, beef, lobster, abalone, crayfish, king crab and honey.

An island rich in history, King Island was named in 1801 after Governor Philip King of New South Wales, whose territory at the time included what is now Tasmania. With a European history that dates back to 1797 when it was first sighted by mariners, the islands history included the hunting of seals for their oil and blubber in 1801 to 1805. After the collapse of the seal populations, the main residents of the island were hunters after the wallabies, pademelons and possums for their skins, and the survivors of the many shipwrecks. The island was then opened to settlement in 1888 and a township was formed at Currie, with the Post Office opening on June 1, 1892.

Located at the western entrance to Bass Strait, King Island is the largest of the New Year Islands group, that include New Year Island, Christmas Island and Councillor Island.

The island is 64 km long, stretching from Cape Wickham, the further most point in the north, to Stokes Point, the further most point in the south. At its widest point it is 27 km. The two main townships are Currie on the western coast to Naracoopa on the east coast. Grassy Harbour is located in the south-east.

As well as the local produce, King Island offers visitors a chance to experience the magnificent beauty of life on this island and the natural environment.

Visitors can learn the history of lighthouses and the shipwrecks that have met with grief on the islands jagged reefs. There are long sandy beaches and lush green pasture.

For those seeking natures flora and fauna, there are Kings Island largest protected area, the 6,800 ha Lavinia State Reserve; Pennys Lagoon, a rare perched lake; Tasmania's longest parallel dunes; Seal Rocks State Reserve, that contains a calcified forest.

Check out our listing of King Island accommodation. In addition to our listed online travel guide information, contact the local tourism visitor centre for your destination for more attractions, tours, local maps and other information.

Information Centre

King Island Visitor Information
King Island Tourism Inc
Downstairs, 28 Edward Street
CURRIE TAS 7256
Freecall: 1800 645 014
Ph: 03 6462 1355
Email
Web: www.kingisland.org.au
Open
Monday to Friday 9 am - 5 pm
Hours may vary, contact visitor centre

Tourism Information Touchscreen available at:
IGA Supermarket window
Main Street, Currie

King Island Attractions

Calcified Forest - Seal Rocks State Reserve
• South Road (approximately 30-40 minutes south of Currie)
Considered to be about 7,000 years old, the Seal Rocks State Reserve contains the remains of an ancient forest, that were exposed from the lime-laden sand by the constant Roaring Forties storms.

At Seal Rocks there are spectacular cliffs. The coastline here are dominated by these tallest cliffs on the island, rising to 60 metres. There is an 80 metre boardwalk to take in this spectacular view of the cliffs.

Check out Tasmania Parks & Wildlife Service - King Island Reserves document.
Cape Wickham Lighthouse
At 48 metres, Cape Wickham Lighthouse is Australia’s tallest lighthouse. Established in 1861 on the northern tip of King Island, the lighthouse is constructed from local stone. With Cape Otway marking the northern entrance, Cape Wickham Lighthouse marks the southern end of the ‘Eye of the Needle’, the dangerous narrow western entrance, 84 km wides, that ships had to navigate through to get into Bass Strait and to Melbourne.

It was here that Australia’s largest maritime disaster occurred in 1845 with the wrecking of Cataraqui and the loss of 402 lives, that eventually lead to the establishment of Cape Wickham. There was an earlier loss of the Neva in 1835 with 225 lives, but as they were mainly convict women and children it brought very little reaction from authorities.

Near the lighthouse are the unmarked graves of many of the Neva’s victims and the marked graves of some later mariners, including the master of the clipper Loch Leven.
Kelp Industries
• Netherby Rd, CURRIE • Ph: 03 6462 1340
• Open 8 am - 4 pm Mon - Fri, or by appointment
One of the main export products from King Island, Bull Kelp is collected from the beaches, processed and exported, mostly to Scotland. There is a Kelp Information Room at the factory or you can view the harvesters at work along the foreshore near Currie.
King Island Cultural Centre and Gallery
• Wharf Rd, CURRIE • Ph: 03 6462 1924
• Open daily 1 pm - 4 pm - Closed Tuesdays
Exhibitions that feature the local artists and artists in residence.
King Island Historical Society Museum
• Lighthouse St, CURRIE • Ph: 03 6462 1512
• Open daily 2 pm - 4 pm. Closed July/August
Housed in what was once the home of the chief lighthouse keeper, the museum contains collections that include material from shipwrecks, including a tartan blanket that was used to wrap the baby born after the wrecking of the Netherby and the plaque from a sextant presented to the ship’s officer, John Parry, for his efforts in the rescuing of the 500 people aboard the Netherby.
Lavinia State Reserve
Located on the north east coast of King Island, the reserve was named after the 52 ton schooner Martha Lavinia, which when travelling from Tasmania to Adelaide in 1871 struck a reef offshore near the reserve.

The reserve contains spectacular coastal and bush scenery, wildlife and significant lagoon and wetland systems. The reserve is home for a number of rare birds including the endangered orange-bellied parrot. The reserve also contains Lavinia Beach and two fresh water lakes: Lake Martha Lavinia and Penny’s Lagoon.
  • Penny’s Lagoon
    A rare perched lake (it’s above the water table) and is found in only three locations in the world. The freshwater is held by compacted sand and organic matter. It is a popular swimming spot for locals and visitors. Facilities include picnic tables, wood fired barbecues and a toilet.

Maritime History Trail
The treacherous waters of the Bass Strait have claimed hundreds of ships and more than a thousand lives. This self-guided drive visit the various sites around the islands, taking in the memorial cairns that provide an insight into the lives of those shipwrecked, the brave rescuers and the tireless works of the lighthouse keepers in their efforts to make the waters around King Island safe.

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King Island Tours

TAS ToursOutback  • EcoAdventureNational Tours
Shortstop Jet Charter
• Hanger 5, Wirraway Rd, ESSENDON AIRPORT VIC 3041 • Ph: +61 3 9379 9299
Private jet charter and air charter entertainment services in Melbourne. Include flight packages to King Island.

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King Island Transport

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Air Travel
King Island Airport
• Ph: 03 6462 1177 (Council)
The airport on the King Island is owned and operated by King Island Council. There are three commercial airlines flying to the island, King Island Airlines, Regional Express (REX) and TASAIR. Privately owned planes can also land at the King Island Airport - fees do apply.
King Island Airlines
• Ph: 03 9580 3777 (Moorabbin Office) • Ph: 03 6462 1000 (Currie Office)
Specialising in servicing King Island.
Rex / Regional Express
• Ph: 13 17 13 (within Australia) • Ph: +61 2 6393 5550
There are scheduled flights between Melbourne and King Island.
Tasair
• Ph: 036462 1070 (King Island) / See website for full contact list
There are scheduled flights between Devonport / King Island, Burnie (Wynyard) / King Island. There are also charter flights available.
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King Island Other Links

• King Island Community/Local Government Links
• King Island Community Links
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