King Island Photography Safari, day 3

I’m an early riser, even on holiday. The mornings were tranquil in Grassy. The air was crisp and cool, and the only locals we met on our pre-breakfast walks were the wild wallabies who eyed us with blatant suspicion, poised to spring away if anyone took a step too close.

Another wallabyThis time, I had my 55-200mm lens on my camera and was able to take my shots from a comfortable (for the wallabies) distance

Grassy Mine Monument - the King Island scheelite mine closed in 1990. Grassy Mine Monument overlooks a no longer used open-cut scheelite mine site, which was in operation until 1972 when the mining moved underground. Dolphin Mine was the last of Grassy’s underground mines to close in 1990, though there is a project to redevelop the mine site. Scheelite is also known as calcium tungstate, an ore of tungsten.

Grassy fire station Grassy Fire Station

The Grassy Club The Grassy Club

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Grassy swimming pool Grassy Swimming Pool

Grassy garage Grassy Garage

Grassy supermarket and cafe Grassy Supermarket and Cafe

Out and about today, we photographed a wide range of subjects: hay bales, cows, birds, beaches and more. Have I mentioned yet how much fun I had on this trip?

Hay bales Hay bales – my tribute to Monet’s haystacks

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Curious cows Curious cows

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Retreating geese Retreating geese – put it this way: you can’t sneak up on geese while you’re in an OKA

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“Hold on to your cameras!” Ian called out cheerfully, not for the first time on this trip. I’d secured my bag with a seat-belt on its own seat next to me, again, not for the first time. Although I was also safely buckled in, as the OKA’s engine roared, I still had several secret butt-clenching moments while we climbed and bumped over rocks and dunes and my mind filled with thoughts of flipping over – flashbacks to dune bashing on a desert safari in Dubai.

Our reward after this wild ride was arriving at a secluded stretch of beach with incredible views to point our cameras at. The mobile kitchen was back in action again, and we warmed up with hot cups of tea and coffee and home-baked scones with jam and cream, which I’m sure tasted even better because of our spectacular surroundings.

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Getting organised for morning tea at the beach Getting organised for morning tea at the beach – a tablecloth provides a little touch of luxury but the wind makes it a tricky proposition

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Homemade scones with jam and cream If you like your scone plastered thickly with jam and cream, let Ian do the honours with the knife!

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Along the shoreline of Yellow Rock Beach, the remains of a paddle steamer named Shannon are partially buried, exposed at low tide.

Shipwreck Shipwreck

DSCF4912Getting down low for the perfect shot

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For lunch, Ian took us to Penny’s Lagoon, a lovely picnic spot named after a local landowner and lighthouse attendant at Cape Wickham, H.J. Penny. But first things first, a day trip necessity – a much-needed loo stop. Long drop toilets aren’t usually the most pleasant-smelling places, but you learn to make use of the facilities whenever they’re available. In this case though, I was amazed at how stink-free this toilet was – seriously! And a gorgeous view of the lagoon from the throne too.

Penny's Loo-goon Penny’s Loo-goon

The view from the loo Couldn’t resist – the view from the loo

Penny’s Lagoon is the world’s smallest suspended lake. While we photographers strolled along shore of the lagoon, Ian and Lucinda got to work unpacking the kitchen. We returned to delicious smells and sounds – King Island lamb sizzling on the hotplate.

Tannins make the water look red at Penny's Lagoon Tannins make the water look red at Penny’s Lagoon

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Roasted pumpkinPumpkin and potatoes

Finishing the lamb off on the hotplate Finishing the lamb off on the hotplate

Ian apologised for the tinned peas – next shipment of fresh peas to the island was likely a week away. But the lamb was outstanding – flavoursome and juicy.

King Island lamb with three veg (potato, pumpkin, peas) King Island lamb with three veg (potato, pumpkin, peas)

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Wallaby enjoying bread and butterA lavish feast – a wallaby enjoyed bread and butter left by a previous picnicker

After lunch, we went to photograph Cape Wickham Lighthouse, the tallest lighthouse in Australia and in the Southern hemisphere, located on the Northern tip of King Island. Established in 1861, the lighthouse is positioned at the southern end of the ‘Eye of the Needle’, the narrow and dangerous passage which ships had to pass through to get into Bass Strait on the way to Melbourne.

LighthouseCape Wickham lighthouse

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A trip to King Island would’ve been incomplete without a stop at King Island Dairy. We arrived just a little while before the shop closed for the day, but with enough time to taste cheese and buy souvenirs. I started with my favourite Surprise Bay Cheddar and worked my way around the table to the nostril-flaring blues. There was no one to talk us through the cheese tasting, but the tasting notes and our taste-buds told us what we needed to know.

Cheese tasting at King Island Dairy shop Cheese tasting at King Island Dairy shop

DSCF5152By the time we left, that chunk of Surprise Bay Cheddar was significantly smaller. I couldn’t get enough of it and bought a wedge to take home

The King Island Dairy The King Island Dairy is across the road from the cheese shop

One final stop was in Currie town. While Ian picked up groceries, Craig, Caroline and I headed to the King Island Bakery. They had soy milk, to my surprise, and the coffee was pretty good. The bakery’s crayfish pies are famous, but sadly, there were none available that day. So for us, it was old-fashioned slices all around: cherry ripe slice for Craig and vanilla slice with passionfruit icing for Caroline. Me, I was fascinated by the lurid green “jolly jelly” slice. I felt like a happy kid eating my lime jelly and custard!

King Island Bakery display King Island Bakery display

King Island Bakery pie menu King Island Bakery pie menu

Jolly jelly slice Jolly jelly slice

Vanilla slice Vanilla slice with passionfruit icing

Cherry ripe slice Cherry ripe slice

CafeA nice place for a coffee and something sweet

Currie post office Currie Post Office


DSCF5206-2King Island Pharmacy, Currie

DSCF5217Harbour Road Cafe, Currie

That evening back at the motel, a brilliant last supper by Ian and Lucinda, as we relaxed and talked about our wonderful day. To start, slices of cold roast beef (King Island beef, of course), with rocket and creamy King Island brie.

Cold roast beef with rocket and King Island brie Cold roast beef with rocket and King Island brie

Main course, leather jacket fillets seasoned with lemon pepper, wrapped in prosciutto, served potato and asparagus drowned in homemade aioli.

Prosciutto-wrapped leather jacket, potato and asparagus Prosciutto-wrapped leather jacket, potato and asparagus

For sweets, Ian’s homemade sticky date pudding, light and fluffy on the inside, drowned in cream and butterscotch sauce. Probably my favourite dessert of the safari.

Homemade sticky date pudding Homemade sticky date pudding

I slept very well again that night.

One more morning on King Island before our afternoon flight back to Melbourne – and then onto Hobart.

The complete King Island photography safari series

King Island

  • King Island is located in Bass Strait between the states of Victoria and Tasmania, Australia (it is a part of Tasmania).
  • The island is 58km long and 21km wide. There is no public transport on King Island, but car rental and guided tours (4WD, private small bus) are available.
  • The population of King Island was 1,566 at the 2011 Census.
  • Telstra Next G is the only mobile service on the island.
  • Find out more about King Island: King Island Tourism
  • Shannon Shipwreck Walk
  • Penny’s Lagoon Loop Walk
  • Cape Wickham Lighthouse
  • King Island Dairy
    869 North Road
    Loorana, King Island
    TAS 7256
  • King Island Bakery
    5 Main Street
    Currie, King Island
    TAS 7256

Getting to King Island

  • There are no passenger ferries to King Island. The only options are to fly from mainland Australia via Melbourne or from Tasmania via Wynyard or Launceston. See more on how to get to King Island.
  • We flew to King Island via Melbourne on Regional Express (Rex) Airlines.
  • The flight is approximately 50 minutes. Passengers are served a sweet or savoury snack and a drink of water.

King Island Photography Safari by King Island Holiday Village and Tours
This trip wasn’t sponsored – we paid for everything ourselves. We got in touch directly with Ian and Lucinda via their website and organised a tour from 21 to 24 December 2014 (4 days/3 nights).
We paid AU$2088 per person which included:

  • Return flights Melbourne to King Island (I travelled to Melbourne from Perth; Craig and Caroline came from Sydney)
  • 4 days touring King Island in the all-terrain, air-conditioned OKA vehicles
  • 3 nights accommodation in a queen ensuite room
  • 3 x two-course dinners featuring King Island produce
  • 3 lunches, including a couple of fantastic meals cooked outdoors on location
  • 3 morning teas
  • Continental breakfast every morning

King Island Holiday Village and Tours
King Island Holiday Village offers a range of accommodation options
We stayed at King Island Motel – part of the safari package
1 Bluegum Drive
Grassy, Tasmania 7256
Telephone: (03) 6461 1177

Photography notes

  • Rex Airlines baggage limits are 7kg for cabin and 15kg for checked-in luggage. I carried all my camera gear in my cabin luggage except for my tripod which was in my checked-in bag.
  • I took my Fujifilm X-E1 camera (mirrorless camera, not a DSLR) with three lenses: 23mm, 18-55mm and 55-200mm, all with their lens hoods. I used the 18-55 the most while out and about. I switched to the 55-200mm when photographing wildlife, such as the terns on the first day, and wallabies, which we saw every day on the island. I used the 23mm for food shots e.g. at dinner time. It can be very windy on King Island; we all changed lenses only within the vehicle.
  • I brought 3 spare camera batteries, which I used in rotation over the four days, and charger. At most I changed batteries twice in one day. While battery life of mirrorless cameras will never match that of DSLRs, I have been reasonably impressed with the X-E1’s battery life. Two spares would’ve been enough to carry around for the day.
  • The X-E1 is not weather sealed, and knowing we might be photographing in wet weather, I packed a few plastic bags to protect my camera from the rain. I cut a hole in the plastic bag for my lens to poke through. It’s a little unwieldy as the plastic bag flaps in the wind and you have to keep making sure it doesn’t cover any part of the lens, but it’s a cheap method for keeping a camera sufficiently dry. The wettest weather we experienced was on the first day of the safari; it was pretty good the rest of the time, with only patches of light drizzle.

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  • Craig Hind

    Heh, there I am in one of your photos. One of the few times I actually got down on the rocks for a good shot!

    Gosh this brings back awesome memories, and you taught me a thing or two that I didn’t remember from the trip.

    Oh I so want to go back!

    • Craig,
      I say we contact Ian and suggest (among other things) a half-day King Island Tour by Cheese. :)

  • Gorgeous once again Cynthia. I adore that caravan tucked into the sand dune…how about that for a blissful getaway. The scones look very memorable. I smiled at your comment on the drop-toilets. Seriously I think those are some of the cleanest, well maintained public facilities I have ever seen. And mostly with a beautiful view!

    I hope you are enjoying this Easter break.

    • Thanks, Jane. Yes, it’s been a quiet Easter, just what I wanted. Have edited a truckload of photos from our time in Hobart. I’m running VERY behind. That toilet at Penny’s Lagoon was the best of its kind I’ve experienced. A bit of an obscure place for a loo to recommend, but there you go!

  • Great photos and really interesting 3rd day on king island. The food looks so good!

    • Cheers, Janice. The food was definitely a highlight of the trip. I looked forward to every meal. And I still had biccies to munch on back in my room, tucked in bed with my cup of tea.

  • Such a stunning post. Australia truly is a beautiful country. I love any products that I come across with “King Island” on it, especially a fan of the King Island Triple Brie. Such a fun holiday!