Caroline Kininmonth moved to King Island 25 years ago. The drought-stricken nature of East Gippsland, in Victoria, prompted her move to the greener pastures of the island. She camped initially, before seeing a coastal block for sale, which she quickly snapped up. Caroline discovered the 1876 Boathouse, which at the time, was derelict and scheduled for demolition. Along with her friend, Geoff Dodge, Caroline put in the blood, sweat and tears and cold hard cash to bring it back to life, and it was officially opened by entrepreneur Dick Smith in 1990. It’s now run as a “restaurant with no food “and loved by everyone.
“I am having a ball developing my art and being creative,” Caroline said.
“And my grandchildren and children are also embracing the island. My dream is to start a research uni/Tafe College on King Island with my son, who is a marine biologist in Fiji. He has a house here and a coastal block and loves the island.”
Caroline believes a key to the island’s charm is partly due to those that choose to call it home.
“It is the people here that are amazing, supportive and fun. It’s a magic place to live, even if sometimes it is very wild and woolly and a few things are a bit more expensive because of freight.”
We recently caught up with Caroline and asked her 10 questions.
1 What does a perfect day on King Island look like to you?
I had a perfect day on King island last week! Waking up to my 70-year-old garden in the middle of the island, with a huge oak tree, old English camellias, flowers and berries. The sun was shining after rain and the birds warbling.
Then I took a drive into Currie with peacocks, pheasants, and wildlife in the long grass along the road to my pottery studio in Currie. I then painted pictures in my pottery and set up the Boathouse with fresh flowers, music and set a table for a group to enjoy lunch by the Currie Harbour. I ended the day walking along the wild beach called British Admiral as the sun set. Perfect!
2 What do we do best on the North-West corner of the island?
The wild coast of King Island is incredible for surfing and boogie-boarding and beach-combing. Surfers look up the swells and weather online and come to camp or stay in holiday homes – they love it.
3 Where can we improve?
Improvement is in the eye of the beholder and attitude. Embracing whatever you want is part of the Bass Strait island experience.
4 What would you like to see more of? And less of?
More research into edible seaweeds and using the coastal greens. A fresh fish market would be great, but we are a small population and most locals fish for themselves. A more “village” like Currie township as we all meet there, do business in the street and do coffee!
5 If you could swap your life for a day, who would you switch it with?
I would love to go cray-fishing with the guys. Going early in the morning in their amazing boats seeing the flocks of mutton birds sweeping the ocean and being in the deep ocean. Scary!
Seeing the crays in the pots as they are pulled up and viewing the island coastline from the sea. They are also characters the fishermen – with jokes and stories – and they’re brave!
6 Where is King Island’s most romantic location?
The Boathouse is a romantic spot for drinking a red wine with a candle-lit setting, eating crayfish, cheese or BBQ-ing a steak as the sun sets over the boats on Currie Harbour. Then dancing to the music from records that go with the Boathouse. Magic!
7 Would you like to share any hidden gems?
Hidden gems pop up everywhere by surprise as you explore the island. To end the day with a glass of wine or coffee at the cafes around the island situated either inland or on the coast is part of the adventure. The ultimate is sitting on a salt bush on a deserted beach with your best mate (or just by yourself!), with a glass of wine, eating oysters or cheese and biscuits.
8 What makes you most proud of being a Tasmanian?
Quality is the word that comes with the great feeling of being a Tasmanian and we have so much going for us with produce, creative thinking, climate and pure food, air and water and a 1960s feel.
9 What do you miss most when you are away from home?
I miss the fertility of the soil, that just grows anything; the generosity of the growth in the sea and the land giving us milk, cheese beef, kelp, abalone, crayfish. And the people. You can feel the energy. Tough islanders and caring friends. We are a big family.
10 You’re marketing King Island in 30 seconds, what’s your elevator pitch?
Embrace this Bass Strait island in all weathers. Golf, surf, eat, walk, or just take a big deep breath! Bring a pair of bathers and a parka. The locals are friendly and love the visitors.