From historical coastal walks to a quirky restaurant without food, King Island abounds with an eclectic mix of interesting and outdoorsy things to do all year round.
This idyllic island has so much on offer for those willing to make the journey. A quick flight or ferry ride will have you setting food on one of the country’s most historic, well-preserved isles. From fishing and sampling the tasty local seafood, to diving into the history and mystery of the island, these are some of our favourite things to do on King Island.
A day out with fifth generation King Islander Matthew Archer is a fantastic way to discover the local fishing scene. A fishing paradise, the waters surrounding King Island are home to a veritable plethora of fish species, while minimal fishing in the area means a day spent fishing is almost guaranteed to result in a great catch.
“The fishing pressure on King Island is minimal,” Matt explains. “There’s very little commercial pressure and only a small amount of recreational fishing. Most fishing trips you can do on King Island, you can be the only person on that beach. It’s a very reliable and regular fishery.”
Starting as a child, Matt has fished the island his whole life, and began King Island Fishing Tours almost eight years ago at the age of 18. “A bit of local knowledge, finding the good spots around the island and working the different weather patterns that roll through are essential for finding the ideal places to fish.” And when it comes to boat fishing, Matt’s five generations of handed-down fishing knowledge is unbeatable – particularly on an island where the best fishing is very much guided by weather.
“The fishing’s absolutely changed in the last 10 years – and the diversity is unbelievable,” Matt explains.
“Before we only really got relatively cool climate species like flathead, gummy sharks and salmon. Even six or seven years ago we weren’t getting snapper, king fish or tuna, and you never heard of people catching king fish in great numbers – but now it’s regular and in fairly large numbers. The waters have just warmed up a touch around here and the fishing has really started to peak.”
Cosy cafes, remarkable restaurants
Lauded as one of the best spots on the island for a long lunch or romantic dinner, the ‘Restaurant With No Food’ is an offbeat community project conceived by local artist Caroline Kininmonth. When the old boatshed near Currie Harbour burnt down, Caroline resurrected the joint, transforming the rubble into a cafe-cum-restaurant, painting it canary yellow and decorating every corner with her colourful, eye-catching art. Without food, chef or waiters, the quirky spot is a favourite among locals and visitors alike, who more than happily arrive with their own food and drink in hand. A BYO picnic here is one of our favourite things to do on King Island.
For fresh local seafood, look no further than Wild Harvest in Grassy. With a menu dictated by the seasons, their approach is to simply serve up dishes accented by the best produce from around the island: meaning fish, crayfish, abalone, oysters, beef, lamb, dairy and vegetables. Snuggling up by the open fireplace with a warming glass of red from their well-stocked collection makes for the perfect winter night.
Absolute legends of the island for more than 100 years, King Island Dairy is on the KI must-do list. At their cheese store just north of Currie, you can sample a great variety of cheese and cream accompanied by a glass of wine or craft beer. They collect milk daily from eight nearby farms, so their dairy delights could not be fresher. (Or richer, as many heartily agree!)
Walking through history
Walking around King Island can feel as though you are tracing the steps of its rich history.
Up north, Disappointment Bay lives up to the opposite of its name. The beach is often considered a favourite of the island and its long stretches of white sand are great for easy walking. A visit to nearby Cape Whickham Lighthouse is a must, where, on a clear day, you can see all the way to Cape Otway on the Victorian coast.
Lavinia State Reserve, on the north-east coast, boasts coastal and bush tracks through important wetlands, and a lagoon in the northern section. The reserve is also home to several rare birds, including the endangered orange-bellied parrot which visits the island in autumn and spring.
Down south, the coastline of Seal Rocks State Reserve abruptly descends into steep 60 metre cliffs with churning sea below. The Copperhead/Cliff top walk allows you to choose your own path along the rugged cliffs, while nearby are the remains of a 7000-year-old calcified forest – you can view the root system of the ancient forest along a track that‘s home to Bennet‘s wallabies, echidnas, blue-tongue lizards and an abundance of birdlife.
The King Island Maritime Trail around the coast follows the grim and incredible history of shipwrecks around King Island. The trail visits some of the most significant wreck sites in Australia – including the Cataraqui, where 400 people lost their lives, and the Netherby, where 504 passengers survived the wreck without a single fatality.
There’s so much fascinating history on King Island, we wrote a whole story about it – have a read.
Day trip to King Island
If you’re short on time or are looking for an epic day trip from Melbourne, you can embark on an historic DC3 flight over the Bass Strait and enjoy a gourmet lunch with champagne and unbelievable views. Perfect for a special occasion or well-deserved splurge, the full-day adventure will see you gliding above the Melbourne skyline, over Port Phillip Bay, and the Heads before circling King Island.
After touching down, you’ll be whisked away to ‘The View Dining; where you’ll be treated to the very best local produce. After lunch, you’ll have time to explore the charming township of Currie, perusing the boutiques and artisans shops before embarking on your homeward flight, watching the sky turn pink during sunset. Does it get any better than that?
You can find out even more about the experience here.
Accommodation in King Island
There’s plenty of luxurious and unique accommodation on offer on King Island, but one of our favourites is located on the East Coast. King Island Accommodation Cottages have a series of cosy cabins with direct beach access, fully-equipped kitchens and fabulous views of Sea Elephant Bay. The cottages are also located one kilometre from the oh-so-photogenic Naracoopa Jetty.
The shared facilities are also great for families. There’s a games room with a billiards table, darts, table tennis, board and card games. There’s also a great area for outdoor barbecues and picnics, as well as free bicycle rental so you can explore the area.
You can check out availability and secure the best prices here.
Rex operates regular flights to King Island from Melbourne and Burnie.
Still looking for more King Island inspiration to flesh out your itinerary? Check out this story.