sleeping seal - By BotheredByBees
Credit/Licence flickr: By BotheredByBees

Guardian of the western entrance to Bass Strait, King Island lies in the path of the Roaring Forties, westerlies that endlessly circle the world’s southern latitudes.

King Island is an island of long empty beaches, clean air, offshore reefs, rocky coasts and shipwrecks - when the ’Cataraqui’ grounded here in 1845 it was Australia’s worst maritime disaster. This was before Wickham lighthouse, the tallest in the southern hemisphere, was built to guide travellers into Bass Strait.

King Islanders have a special relationship with the sea. The kelpies harvest bull kelp tossed onto the shore, while cray fishermen and abalone divers fish the rich waters.

Beef and dairy cattle shelter behind thick tea-tree hedges on the flat farmlands. Lush grass is the secret of the succulent local beef, rich cream and superb, hand-made cheeses. Visit the King Island Dairies shop next to the cheese factory, taste the cheeses and select your favourites to take home. (Don’t miss the Roaring Forties Blue!)

A short boat trip offshore, Reid Rocks is a major breeding colony for the Australian fur seal. King Island’s wildlife is a mix of native and exotic. Don’t be surprised when you see a pheasant in the roadside hedge or grazing turkeys in a paddock.

The most pleasant surprise will be the warm King Island welcome everywhere you go. On country roads you’ll get a wave from every vehicle you pass - remember to wave back.

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