King Island, the Land of Lost Treasures


Words and photos by Sam Brumby

I was obsessed with pirates when I was a small child.

I used to wield a large kitchen knife while watching Hook alone in the living room, fighting off baddies and sending them to the plank. Then one day I jumped the couch to hide so I didn’t have to witness the mentally-scarring scorpions-in-a-box scene. In the process, I managed to sever my hand with the knife, and I burst into tears. Talk about a shit pirate.

While it might not be the fault of pirates, 2000 plus souls have been lost at sea off the coast of King Island since the 1800s. At least 60 shipwrecks have come aground amongst its violent seas, giving birth to centuries worth of whispers of buried loot and lost treasures. But if rumours of ancient jewels and decades of incest don’t tickle your fancy, maybe you’ll be more interested in the modern tastes of the island: cheese, seafood, beef, surf, golf, and wind.

Paddocks. Get used to paddocks.

Make King Island Dairy your first point of call. It’s the bloody bee’s knees, but you probably already knew that from mopping it off your fancy Eastern Suburbs cheese platters with fine breads and crackers. It’s only 15 minutes from the airport and you get a free tasting platter. I advise you to take advantage of your free platter every day while on the island… though you may have to disguise yourself daily so they don’t recognise you. After all, there are only 1500 people living on this rock.

This bloke’s name was… it started with C. I think it was Chonk. He would sit on this headland waiting for a school of kingfish to swim by for up to 8 hours. Just him and his dog, can’t remember the dog’s name. Let’s call him Randy.

Also, just to reiterate how good this cheese is, you can’t even buy King Island milk on the island because every drop of that weird, salty, windblown cow juice is going straight into this delectable cheese. Yummo.

Plenty of places for just you and your mates.

Speaking of good grub, make sure to head into the epicentre that is Currie and grab yourself a coffee from my mates at the Nomadic coffee van. They should be parked down near the harbour, unless they’re in Naracoopa. Island time, mate—who knows? Then go grab yourself a crayfish pie. They’re famous for a reason.

Abalone. The steak of the sea. If ya know, ya know.

While in the bakery, if you look to your right you’ll see the pub. Who doesn’t love a good pub? Good place to have a cold pint, meet some locals and get some solid inside knowledge about the real reason you are there: buried treasure.

Tasmanian’s finest.

On the subject of treasure, a mate of mine once found a near-new Haines Hunter washed ashore a famous King Island beach a few years back. It was laden with dead tuna, lost hopes, fishing tackle, and a GoPro. He watched the footage back and discovered some mainlanders (Australia, the Big Island) from Victoria had been out tuna fishing when they ran into some trouble amidst a storm in the Bass Strait and had to be rescued by the Victorian coast guard.

KI is famous for crayfish. We didn’t find any.

Interestingly enough, when you abandon ship, you forfeit your right to the vessel and it falls under salvaging rights. My mate salvaged this vessel; it took two bogged tractors and a few islanders, but he eventually got her home. After dodging a few phone calls from the insurance company, he claimed rights to the boat and then eventually sold her for some gold bullion and a cutlass.

How fucking piratey is that.

More wedges than you can poke at stick at.

True stories aside, King Island’s coastline is spectacular and extremely accessible. It’s jampacked with nooks and crannies, most of which are named after famous shipwrecks: Port of Melbourne, Martha Lavinia, Crombie’s Cove etc.

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These endless stretches of ever-changing coastline are the real treasure of the island. You can always find a spot out of the wind by simply driving around another point, heading to the opposing coast or by just getting stoned at your Airbnb and staring at turkeys.

Grassy was once a booming little town built around a tungsten/scheelite mine. You can buy a block here for $65K right now… according to realestate.com

If you know where to look there is plenty of good surf and diving to be had within these endless bays and reefs, but I’ll leave that part of the adventure to you. Wouldn’t wanna ruin the fun now, would I?

Now get out there me mateys, aaaarggghhhhhh!

Born a pirate, die a pirate.

See more from Neck of the Woods here.

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