Having recently traveled to King Island to complete the Australian Top 100 Golf courses, a lot of thought was given about whether this is a true golfing destination. This was also discussed in Australian Golf Digest this month, helping to quantify some of my thoughts. During my journey discussions were held with some of the locals, which was very insightful.
So how does King Island stack up as a golfing destination? Lets break some of this down.
Travel – This is down covered in two areas, getting to the island, then moving around the island.
Air: There is only one way to currently get to King Island, by flying. The air field is quite small, with the maximum capacity plane being around a 30 seater, so if you have an aversion for small aircraft, chances are you won’t be making a visit. There is a choice of chartering a flight, a good option for a small group, which is usually the way if planning a fully organised tour, or using some of the smaller commercial airlines, such as Rex, which fly out of Melbourne’s major airport, but still require a transfer from major cities. Another issue is the frequent low level cloud on the island, which basically grounds all flights. There is no way to overcome this due to costs. On our trip we had a 3 hour delay in arriving, but in all honesty this was a good thing. We were able to take in the views under a setting sun at Cape Wickham. Talk does exist of a ferry eventually travelling to the island, but when that will happen, is purely a guess
Ground: There are two ways to get around the island, which is a necessity if you are planning to leave the airport. Organised tour bus, again great for a small group who all like to drink. Hiring a car or small bus, just need a designated driver. Travel to the main town of Currie is 15 minutes to Ocean Dunes and 45 minutes to Cape Wickham. There is no public transport, taxis and I’m pretty sure Uber.
Our plane to King Island
Accommodation – There is limited accommodation available on the island, so booking early is essential. A couple of hotels are available in Currie and now lodgings are available at Cape Wickham. Some houses are available for rent, I do know a couple of groups who have done this previously, but this is the main current restraint on larger numbers travelling to play golf. We experienced our own issues with some extra heads wanting to come on our trip. The only way these could be accommodated were those with single rooms, being accommodating and moving to a shared room
Facilities – The island has a population of around 1500, so if you are expecting to find five star facilities, you better think again, although I would highly praise the restaurant Boomerang by the Sea. This not only extends from the towns, but to the golf courses themselves. With almost temporary structures in place serving as the clubhouse. I don’t have a problem with this, as I’m only here to play golf, but if my wife was accompanying me along on the trip, as she does sometimes, there would not be a lot for her to do. Compared to Barnbougle Dunes, where a small resort is available with a day spa, the difference is quite significant
Golf Courses – Both of the new courses are of a high standard and can only improve with age. With Cape Wickham having already been sold and Ocean Dunes currently on the market, there must be questions about what is happening. It is said that the current owner were not experienced in moving to the next step, accommodation etc. During my trip there was discussion about two further courses potentially being developed south on the island. I will be watching this space with great interest. We mustn’t forget about the original nine hole course, King Island Golf & Bowling Club. An older style course, reminiscent of Scottish links, this is certainly worth a visit. The locals are extremely friendly and helpful to guests.
There are other operational issues, I recommend having a look at Golf Digest for these.
So does King Island stack up as a golfing destination. If it is all about the golf, most definitely, don’t give it a second though. But if you want more out of the trip, mainland Tasmania maybe a better option.