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History & Culture

Cultural Areas

Calcified Forest
South Road (30 - 40 minutes south of Currie)
These remains of an ancient forest are up to 7000 years old and were revealed when the lime-laden sand which had covered and preserved the stumps was exposed.

Cape Wickham Lighthouse
Cape Wickham Road (40 minutes north of Currie)
At 48 metres tall the Cape Wickham Lighthouse is both the tallest in Australia and the Southern Hemisphere. Made from locally quarried stone, the lighthouse recently celebrated its 150th anniversary in the company of Her Excellency Quentin Bryce, the Governor General of Australia.

King Island Historical Museum – (03) 6462 1512
Lighthouse Street, Currie
Open September – May. Closed June- September. Open from 2.00pm to 4.00pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays & Saturdays.
This excellent museum, staffed entirely by volunteers, features displays unique to King Island's history such as shipwrecks, mining, sealing, lighthouses, agriculture and telecommunications.  Historical information enquiries can be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

King Island Kelp Industries – (03) 6462 1340
Netherby Road, Currie
Open 8.00am to 4.00pm Monday to Friday or by appointment.
Storm cast Bull Kelp is collected from King Island’s beaches, processed and mostly exported to Scotland. Visit the Kelp Information Room at the factory or view the harvesters at work along the foreshore near Currie.

Soldier Settler Trail
Around the island you will come across a number of interpretative signs regarding King Island’s Soldier Settler history.



King Island History

European history began with maritime explorers, sealers, hunters, shipwrecked castaways and great-hearted farmers.
Prospectors discovered tin, gold, rutile, ilmenite and one of the world's largest deposits of scheelite.
Soldier settlement schemes after two world wars "tamed" the land for farmers who, in time, found that regular rainfall and year-long green pastures were ideal for growing sheep, quality beef and the dairy cows from whose milk they could make wonderous cheeses.
An island of fine foods and friendly people!

1797 - Captain Campbell in The Deptford sighted King Island.
1799 - Captain Reid named Reid's Rocks south of King Island.
1801 - Captain John Black in The Harbinger named King's Island, New Year Isles and Harbinger Rocks. Captain Campbell in Harrington began sealing on King's Island.
1802 - Lt. John Murray in Lady Nelson charted coast from Seal Bay to New Year Isles, naming Seal Elephant Bay, Elephant Rock, Cape Farewell. Captain Campbell sent two of his men to walk around the Island in search of survivors of a shipwreck. King Island's first recorded wreck. Name of ship unknown. Capt. Buyers left Daniel Cooper with a sealing gang at Cowper Point, Sea Elephant Bay. Capt. Nicholas Baudin in Le Geographe with Le Naturaliste and Casuarina anchored in Sea Elephant Bay. M. Pierre Faure, his hydrographer, circumnavigated King's Island, naming various places. Lt. Charles Robbins in Cumberland claimed King's Island as a British possession. His surveyor, Charles Grimes, made an extensive survey.
1825 - Van Diemen’s Land, including King Island, proclaimed a separate State.
1826/27 - Surveyor G.W. Barnard made six traverses across the Island, west to east, leaving an interesting account of terrain and vegetation on his map.
1835 - Wreck of the Neva off Cape Wickham.
1836 - Capt. Malcolm Laing Smith leased the Island and established a home and farm at Yellow Rock.
1838 - Voyage of the Beagle, of Charles Darwin fame, explored down the west coast of King Island. Cape Wickham was named after the commander, John Clements Wickham. Stokes Point was named after the surveyor on board at that time, John Lort Stokes, who later became commander of the vessel for the later part of the six year voyage (1837-1843). Fitzmaurice Bay was named after a lieutenant on board, Lewis Roper Fitzmaurice (Ref: Mariners are Warned" by Marsden Hordern, Melbourne University Press 1989-2002). Thanks to Danny Gunn.
1845 - Wreck of the Cataraqui with loss of 400 lives nearly half of whom were children under 14 years of age, including at least 16 babies.
1846 - David Howie appointed Special Constable for King's Island where he had a lease of 10 acres.
1852 - Stranding of the City of Melbourne on east coast.
1854 - Wreck of The Brahmin. William Weight, a survivor, returned to the Island and became a kangaroo hunter together with William Osborne and William Hickmott. Bishop Francis Nixon paid a pastoral visit in The Beacon. He reported that a fire burning out of control had destroyed a large area.
1855 - R&P Turnbull took up a grazing lease.
1856 - The State's name changed from Van Diemen’s Land to Tasmania.
1859-61 - First Victoria-Tasmania telegraphic cable by way of King Island, laid - and failed.
1861 - Cape Wickham lighthouse began operation.
1862 - McLaine brothers were cutting and exporting timber.
1866 - Wreck of The Netherby.
1871 - Wreck of The Loch Leven.
1874 - Wreck of The British Admiral.
1875 - Wreck of The Blencathra.
1878 - Wood, Draper and Giles took up a lease and made first attempts at commercial agriculture and dairying. Refer p330 "The Cyclopedia of Tasmania" Hobart 1899-1900 "Mr. Thomas Wood ... With 2 others [Draper and Giles] he held the lease of King's Island and Bass Straights, and entered on sheep raising, which was unfortunate. In 1891 he sold out, and coming to Hobart, undertook the management of the Federal Coffee Palace, ..." (thanks to Mark Waters – Great-Great Grandson of Mr Thomas Wood for this information).
1880 - Currie Lighthouse began operation.
1887 - Surveyor John Brown assessed the Island for resources, timber and agricultural potential. Victorian Field Naturalists explored and recorded its natural history.
1888 - King Island opened up for settlement and land selection.
1889 - A member of the Bowling family took up selections at Surprise Bay, Mantrap and Yellow Rock.
1892 - The English Timber Company established a base at Camp Creek. First official Postmaster. First Horse Race Meeting. Bishop Montgomery reported that 2,000 acres of land had been selected. There were seven houses and 60 cattle.
1890's - Holyman ships began calling at the Island.
1896 - First store. Jim J Ball began selling/bartering men's trousers from his home. Another jetty built at Currie. First resident Special Constable, HM Rivett-Carnac.
1897 - First use of fertilizer and trace elements on King Island farmland.
1898 - Bishop Montgomery reported a population of 155 as well as 38 shanties and verandas and "the usual signs of refinement".
1899 - First voyage of SS Yambacoona owned by Messrs Gunn & Stephenson to Currie. Flourishing farms at Surprise Bay, Fitzmaurice Bay, Porky Lagoon, Yellow Rock and Yambacoona.
1900 - Currie township site surveyed. First land sales. JJ Ball built store on site of present King Island IGA store. Road Trust established.
1902 - Mrs Mary Bowling turned the first sod for the King Island Dairy.
1903 - John and Michael Parer erected hotel at Currie.
1904 - Tom Farrell discovered scheelite. First resident Anglican minister. Island's first doctor, Dr Winterbottom. Town cemetery established.
1905 - The Record, the Island's first newspaper began publication.
1907 - After producing five tons of tin and "1oz 13cwts 149gms" of gold, British Flag Mining Company closed down.
1908 - King Island Municipal Council's first meeting.
1909 - Commercial Bank of Australia opened branch. Currie had a blacksmith, bakehouse and tearooms. Stock: 2134 cattle, 3312 sheep, 58 pigs.
1910 - Population 778 Currie now had a circulating library, shops were added hotel, Government built public school, headmaster formed first Boy Scout pack, land boom. Sir Harry Barron arrived on first vice regal visit. The King Islander first published. Inaugural King Island Show - First present Mr Bischoff.
1911 - Father Shaw built wireless station. Methodist church built.
1912 – Holyman’s bought Yambacoona and Wauchope. Cottage Hospital established in December. King Islander ceases publication King Island News commenced publication.
1913 - All Saints Church built.
1914-18 - World War I: One fifth of male population joined the services. King Island Rifle Club guarded the wireless station. Council erected a signal bell on Bell Hill Roman Catholic Church built.
1915 - King Island Marine Board established. King Island Scheelite Development Co. formed.
1916 - Naracoopa jetty built. Marrawah began regular service. Town Hall and municipal offices built at Currie.
1919 - Sub branch of the RSL formed. Old public hall from racecourse brought in to sit beside hotel as Post Office.
1920 - Fifty new soldier settler farms created. Ray Parer flew first aircraft to Currie from Melbourne in two hours 20 minutes. Currie school moved to its present location.
1922 - War Memorial recording the death of 22 islanders unveiled by William Hickmott. State steamer Tambar (Capt. David) arrived.
1929 - Tasmanian State Forestry Commission began planting a State Forest at Pegarah.
1931 - Golf Club established.
1932 - First commercial flight, Launceston to Currie by Miss Currie.
1933 - Aerodrome opened Matthews Aviation secured first airmail contract for their 3-engined flying boat, Windhover. Miss Currie began a regular passenger service.
1934 - Aerodrome used in RAAF training - 3 Wapitis and 3 Bulldogs arrived.
1936 - Tasmania-Victoria telephone cable laid. Island had 120 subscribers.
1937 - Local branch of Country Women's Association formed.
1939 - Branch of Red Cross formed at meeting convened by CWA.
1942 - Currie had an area school with a farm. 146 men in Volunteer Defence Corps. Aerodrome mined - and blown up.
1946 - Land Settlement Division of Agricultural Bank of Tasmania bought a total of 20,000 hectares of land to provide 200 farms. Soldiers and Citizens Club formed.
1952 - Tasmanian Hydro-electric Commission's diesel power station at Currie began operation. Lighthouse built at Stokes Point.
1953 - Modern public library in Soldiers' Memorial Hall. Homes for the aged built.
1955 - Stock: 10,000 dairy cattle, 8,000 beef cattle, 15,000 sheep, 1,500 pigs.
1957 - New Post Office building. High School established.
1959 - Bowling Green established and Golf Club renamed - Golf & Bowling Club.
1962 - Field Naturalists Club formed.
1963 - The King Islander, first roll on-roll off ship built for King Island trade. Municipal Band formed.
1964 - Town water and sewerage service for Currie. Parer's Hotel burnt down.
1967 - Extensions to Town Hall.
1968 - Naracoopa Rutile Mine began operations.
1969 - Grassy Grapevine commenced publication.
1970 - Peko Wallsend took over King Island Scheelite and soon began construction of breakwater for new Grassy Port. Currie to Grassy road reformed and sealed.
1971 - 3,000 tons of zircon shipped from Naracoopa for USA.
1972 - Councellor Island and Cumberland Lighthouses began operation. Roll on-roll off ship, Straitsman began service. ABC TV service from transmitter on Gentle Annie. New hospital opened.
1974 - Coat of Arms presented to King Island. Straitsman capsized in Yarra River, Melbourne. King Island Scheelite - All mining operations underground.
1975 - Broad-band radio network and STD services. Kelp Industries exported 35 tons of processed kelp.
1977 - Kibuka Mine (formerly Naracoopa Rutile) closed down.
1980 - King Island Historical Museum opened in former lighthouse superintendent's historic cottage (1879).
1984 - The King Island Courier commenced publication. Currie Lighthouse decommissioned.
1986 - New power station opened at Currie by Tasmanian Premier. King Island News ceased publication.
1988 - Bell Hill gazetted as Bi-centennial Park. Sea Elephant-Lavinia and Seal Rocks Nature Reserves gazetted. Flight service facilities transferred from King Island to Melbourne.
1989 - New Parer's Hotel officially opened.
1990 - King Island Scheelite mine closed. Currie Jetty rebuilt Grassy Wharf modified.
1991 - Searoad Mersey began triangular service. Reticulated power scheme commenced.
1992 - Improved Currie Breakwater built to protect new Currie jetty. Airport terminal building under control of King Island Council.
1993 - 1st King Island Imperial 20 running race held - 32km coast to coast footrace.
1994 - Roaring 40th Air Show.
1995 - Currie Lighthouse recommissioned
1997 - Anglican Church (1913) destroyed by fire. Currie's town water supply chlorinated. King Island NRM group formed.
1998 - Wind Farm pilot scheme officially opened.
2000 - CDMA introduced to the Island.
2001 - Construction of the Currie Skateboard Ramp within the War Memorial Park. Community Future Directions Search Conference held.
2005 - Currie Sewerage Wetlands Treatment Plant commissioned.
2006 - Sea Elephant Fire destroyed most of the Lavinia State Reserve. King Island Cultural Centre formed.
2007 - ADSL Introduced.
2008 - King Island Long Table food festival started.
2009 -
2010 - 

2011 - Cape Wickham Lighthouse celebrates 150th Anniversary with visit from Governor General of Australia.

2012 - Field Naturalists celebrate 50 year anniversary.
2011 - Cape Wickham Lighthouse sesquicentenary.
2012 - Abattoir shut down by JBS Swift,
2013 - The King Island Imperial 20 celebrates 20th anniversary.