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.
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?
“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.
Along the shoreline of Yellow Rock Beach, the remains of a paddle steamer named Shannon are partially buried, exposed at low tide.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Main course, leather jacket fillets seasoned with lemon pepper, wrapped in prosciutto, served potato and asparagus drowned in homemade aioli.
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.
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 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
- King Island Bakery
5 Main Street
Currie, King Island
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
- 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.