I found myself on a domestic flight to Melbourne for the Jeep Wrangler King Island Experience on a rather humid and rainy Wednesday afternoon.
I wasn’t sure where King Island was (geography has never been my strong suit), but Google told me that it’s a tiny island that sits between Victoria and Tasmania.
Actually, all I knew about King Island was some vague branding on some cheese, so I was keenly interested to see what the island has to offer.
As part of the experience, there was a Jeep press conference held at the Crown, detailing its history, where it’s now and the direction it’s taking. We learnt some pretty interesting stuff like roughly 15% of all 4WD owners would take it off-road compared to a whopping 80% of Jeep Rubicon owners would take their 4WDs off-roading. That’s some intense outdoorsy owners right there hehe.
Afterwards, we were treated to a fabulous dinner at Rockpool. I think we were suppose to hobnob, though I got a little overwhelmed by everyone there – including Jeep’s new ambassador Hayden Quinn, last season’s Masterchef contestant (if I was an animated character, there’d be lots of exclamation marks over my head when I realised just who was sitting across from me haha).
I had the Crudo of Hiramasa Kingfish, Ocean Trout and Yellow Fin Tuna with Horseradish, Coriander, Lime and Lemon Flavoured Oil, which was sublimely light and super fresh. For my main, I had the Rangers Valley Dry Aged 300 Day Grain Fed Fillet 250g. The fillet was cooked perfectly – it was so incredibly juicy and flavoursome that it didn’t need any sauce at all (but I did have a small dollop of seeded mustard).
While the Radicchio, Cos and Endive Salad with Palm Sugar Vinaigrette and Boiled Greens with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Lemon were quite tasty, the Potato and Cabbage Gratin totally smashed a home run; it had the right amount of cheesiness, but I think it was the scrumptiously crunchy top that made this side so amazing.
To finish up a most scrumptious dinner, I had possibly the most gigantic slice of Pavlova ever. I know it doesn’t look like it, but it was almost the length of my hand in height! I think I was overly ambitious to think I could finish it, let alone eat more than a few tasty pieces of the candied puffed corn. I wish I could though – it was pure fluffy, sugary goodness.
We were all so full that I’m sure we practically rolled into bed that night. All in all, a dinner success, I’d say! Hehe.
Super early the next morning, we were bundled off to King Island.
I was surprised to see so many Jeeps waiting for us, all shiny and patient, and was even more astounded to discover that we were to drive them!
King Island isn’t flat, but there weren’t many towering trees either. There were a surprising amount of rolling hills (one even with a heart on it!), which were sometimes dotted with various breeds of cows.
Melbourne’s weather was abysmal, but at King Island, we were grateful for the sun peeking shyly from behind the clouds – providing for a rather lovely day for (what felt like) a small road trip.
We were warned to watch out for the native wildlife and they weren’t kidding just how abundant the wildlife is on King Island – I don’t think I’ve even seen so much roadkill! We only saw the wildlife (alive) once, standing as cool as you can be, by the roadside.
We had a short morning tea break at the windy Cape Wickham, where I couldn’t help but take a sneaky stylised shot of a Jeep with the lighthouse in the background.
Off we went again; this time our destination was Lunch.
However, we had to drive through dense bush and some pretty “rough terrain” (I say with quotation marks because I’m sure they’re actually quite tame hehe) to get to our lunch destination.
I’ve never been 4WD-ing before so it was all very exciting; the Jeep powered on like a duck on water and it almost felt like a roller coaster ride. I started to see why some people love 4WD-ing – it’s tremendous fun.
We arrived at the Jeep marquee that was nestled in a shallow depression of a high rolling hill that opened out to a bay.
The spread underneath the marquee was the start of a wholly scrumptious lunch: there were a selection King Island cheese and freshly baked bread rolls with King Island butter.
They were quickly followed by Hayden’s succulent Persian Lamb. I later found out that he grilled them to different degrees to cover for those who prefer their meat well done rather than medium rare, which I thought was rather nicely done.
The lamb was to be eaten with Pomegranate, Pistachio, and Orange Couscous, Yoghurt, and there were Salad Greens from Camp Creek Gardens to round things off.
I just adored the couscous – it was so fluffy and had such an outstanding combination of tart sweetness from the pomegranate and crunchy texture of the pistachios.
I had barely finished my lamb when the Salt and Pepper Tasmanian Quail, Caramelised Onion and Basil Pesto Tarts and Perry Farm Angus Beef Kebabs with Camp Creek Capsicum and Onion came out.
It was then that our delicious lunch was interrupted by some freakishly gusty wind, causing some unprecedented havoc with the marquee. Much to our sadness, we had to abandon lunch and push on.
A short drive later, we found ourselves at and up Currie Harbour Lighthouse, where Andrea (and her adorable 2-year old daughter Pearl) gave us a brief history about the lighthouse and the rather windy harbour.
We learnt that we were looking out to Argentina (!! I double checked Google maps and sure enough, there is nothing between where we were standing and South America, which I thought was pretty amazing) and that the gusty winds we’ve been experiencing all day is really “a light King Island breeze”. Hectic. I can’t imagine how a real gale would be like on the island!
Just down the road from the lighthouse was the Boathouse, or commonly known as The Restaurant with No Food. We were all rather bemused by its name, but we quickly found out it’s exactly that: you book your table at the restaurant, and then you bring your own food.
I guess you would say it’s like having an indoor picnic with a fireplace and overlooks a sparkling harbour; we all thought it was a brilliant concept.
The Boathouse is cheerful and cosy with an eclectic style. It is run solely on donations and the honest sales of kelp baskets and napkin holders made by one of the proprietors.
The restaurant is largely left unmanned and it is encouraged that customers clean up after themselves (kind of like a public bbq). Now and again the proprietors would wander down to make sure everything is in order, though they would usually end up chatting to the customers. We actually got to meet one of the proprietors and she’s like an extremely cheerful and lovely long-lost aunt. Such a sweet lady.
It was hard to tear away from such great company and cosy setting, but schedules were made to be followed and we hustled off to our last destination.
Our last stop had to be the heart of King Island: the King Island Cheese factory; in a way it was the perfect. We got to taste all of their brilliant cheeses currently in production (including two very, very scrumptious puddings – though the chocolate was mind-blowingly amazing), were in awe of the number of awards and accolades they’ve achieved over the years, and bought stacks load of cheese.
Sadly, it was time to leave the most hospitable and lovely (if windy) King Island. As we patiently waited to board the plane, we spied the most adorable sight: a dog pushing with its face slightly into the fresh breeze, ears flapping about and in the tiniest high visibility vest I have ever seen. Squee!
The people on King Island are so genuine and friendly, the sights are quite lovely and the food! Oh, I felt as though I hadn’t nearly sampled enough food from King Island. I really do think I need to come back to see what I’ve missed out on.
eatshow&tell attended the Jeep King Island Experience as a guest of Jeep.