We had high hopes for the day. A morning shower dampened us a bit as we motored ashore in the dinghy, but resulted in a rainbow over the bay. Then we saw the flat tire on the rental car.
This is not quite what David had in mind when he wrote about repairs in exotic places, but he changed the tire with minimal grumbling and we were off. We stopped in Currie to get another spare and headed north.
King Island was once quite forested, but milling, clearing and fires have rendered it mostly grassy, rolling hills now that stretch from sea to sea, good for farming and pastureland. Only a few main roads on the island are paved, the rest are gravel or hard packed dirt. Wallabies jump out of the bush at you frequently. Wild North American turkeys comb the fields for breakfast and peafowl and ring-necked pheasants roam quite freely. We probably saw more raptors (kestrels, harriers and falcons) than any other type of bird, except maybe pied magpies and ravens. An abundance of roadkill provides food for scavengers all up and down the food chain.
We headed first to Penny's Lagoon in the Martha Lavinia Nature Reserve. This is place noted for observing a wide array of native birds, but we saw very few . Perhaps we were too late in the day with our flat tire delay. We did the circuit walk and did see two large tiger snakes in the bush which gave me an adrenaline rush. We think it was coitus interruptus because they scurried off, each in their own direction, embarrassed by our intrusion. We beach combed for a short while on sprawling Lavinia Beach known primarily for its surfing waves. The rollers were huge, but other than two surf casters, the beach was totally deserted … save massive hordes of huge biting flies.
At the northernmost point of the island sits the Cape Wickham Lighthouse. Now, this is a traditional lighthouse, unmanned, but still in operation. It's a beauty. Completed in 1861 and constructed of local granite, it is the tallest lighthouse in Australia and the southern hemisphere. In case you're wondering, the Deal Island Lighthouse is the “highest” light, not the tallest.
The views of Cape Wickham, with huge rollers crashing on the reefs and rocks below, was stupendous and definitely sobering. Several stone memorials nearby marked the graves of people drowned at sea as well as lighthouse keepers and their families who had died here.
We'd sampled King Island cheese while in Tassie and there was no question that we'd stop at their Fromagerie and tasting room along the route. We were allowed to taste nearly a dozen different cheeses. We had little rating sheets to help us make our buying selection at the end. We liked them all though, so we bought a bit of everything. We'll be good on cheeses in the larder for quite some time to come.
Beyond the cheeses, we'd heard wonderful things about King Island beef, but unfortunately David didn't have the chance to try any. We're always on the lookout for unique items at each place we visit. The kelp industry and art are, of course, unique, but we found more. King Island Cloud Juice is the local gourmet bottled rain water available in lots of upscale places worldwide. King Island honey is considered quite a delicacy. At the Cultural Center in Currie, we found mutton bird oil for sale for softening leather as well as feral cat skins which I guess can be fashioned into hats, fur collars, etc. (Here, Tabby, Tabby.)
We reconnoitered Currie and then Grassy for a potential dinner-out alternative. Unfortunately, our budget and the menu prices were not in sync. We passed and headed back to Cups. That old frugal versus cheap thing won out. As we congratulated each other over our savings by eating aboard Cups, thoughts of how we could spend that money on another car rental down the road came to mind.
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