King Island

Platypus, Shipwrecks & Cheese: exploring King Island

A tiny island in the middle of the Bass Strait  between the states of Tasmania and Victoria, King Island is windswept, rugged, beautiful and surely one of the best kept secrets in Tasmania. To be fair, Tasmania is jam packed with gorgeous and stunning places to visit, but what makes King island really special is in part because its so difficult to get there.  There’s no passenger ferries, so the only way is to fly from either Melbourne or Launceston.  However rest assured, the effort is all worth it.

King Island

Views over the Cape Wickham Links course and back to the lighthouse

We visited in the depths of winter, but missed the terrible storms that had raced through the island just prior to our visit. leaving trails of fallen trees, branches and muddy roads.  Luckily for us, we had sunshine all weekend.  The weather in King Island is considered more temperate, without the extreme heat or cold that both Melbourne and Tasmania experience.  That said, the wind chill factor made for a very cold weekend in my view.

One of the things that King island is most well known for is its farming industry, in particular cheese and beef. Not surprisingly one of the first stops was King Island cheese shop.  There’s a large tasting room where we tried everything on offer and walked away with bulging bags of award winning, really delicious cheese.

King Island

Early morning views from Grassy

There’s much to see and do on the island, from following the fantastic historic trails where you can learn about the shipwrecks, early settlers, the seal trade, to discovering the beautiful beaches and hidden surfing spots, or simply exploring the truly stunning scenery. The whole island was beautiful, but I particularly loved the southern part of the island.  The views over the Seal Rocks near the Calcified Forest were spectacular.  As for the Calcified Forest, I’ve never seen anything like this before – it’s an ancient forest which was covered in sand, and now the calcified remains of the tree stumps is all you see today.  It was really amazing.

King Island

At the calcified forest

Then we popped over and walked some of the Copperhead Trail along the cliffs.  I was a little concerned to discover that the walk was named for the large number of copperhead snakes that are commonly seen.  The lowland copperhead snake is one of three types of venomous snakes that live in Tasmania and is described as “a dangerously venomous snake with neurotoxic venom, capable of killing an adult human if correct first aid is not applied”.  Not very cheery, however in the middle of winter we didn’t spot any and decided they were sleeping..

King Island

Wallaby at Cape Wickham

As for the other wildlife it was definitely a highlight.  For starters there were wallabies everywhere, so many that we called it a plague of wallabies.  It made driving the small narrow roads very challenging, avoiding potholes, other cars and wallabies, both the ones hopping in front of us and the carcasses of the ones who who didn’t hop away fast enough. There were also wild turkeys, pheasants, peacocks and we even saw an opossum.

However without a doubt the highlight was the platypus. I had spotted that a local woman ran platypus tours and essentially I planned our itinerary for the weekend around this.  We picked the perfect day as it was beautifully sunny and still, which meant that it was easy to see the platypus as they were about to pop up.  It was an incredible experience, as we huddled on the side of the dam and waited, and watched, as about half a dozen platypus frolicked and swam, oblivious to their audience.  We sat in the stillness and the silence and watched and soaked up the magic.

King Island

A platypus!


2 Responses to “Platypus, Shipwrecks & Cheese: exploring King Island”
  1. Jackie says:

    Didn’t like the sound of the copperhead trail, but luckily you said you didn’t see any, something to say for going in the dead of winter. But other than that it sounded a very interesting place to visit.

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