Map - King Island

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King Island

King Island is an island in the Bass Strait, belonging to the Australian state of Tasmania. It is the largest of three islands known as the New Year Group, and the second-largest island in Bass Strait (after Flinders Island). The island's population at the was 1,585 people, up from 1,566 in 2011. The local government area of the island is the King Island Council.

The island forms part of the official land divide between the Great Australian Bight and Bass Strait, off the north-western tip of Tasmania and about halfway to the mainland state of Victoria. It is subject to the infamous Roaring Forties winds. The southernmost point is Stokes Point and the northernmost point is Cape Wickham. There are three small islands immediately offshore: New Year Island and Christmas Island situated to the northwest, and a smaller island Councillor Island to the east, opposite Sea Elephant Beach.

King Island was first visited by Europeans in the late 18th century. It was named after Philip Gidley King, Colonial Governor of New South Wales, whose territory at the time included what is now Tasmania. Sealers established temporary settlements on the island in the early 19th century, but it was not until the 1880s that permanent settlements were established. The largest of these is Currie, situated on the island's west coast. Today, the island's economy is largely based on agriculture and tourism. It is also home to the Huxley Hill Wind Farm.

King Island was originally part of a land bridge linking Tasmania with the Australian mainland, which was submerged around 12,000 years ago due to rising sea levels. A human skeleton was discovered in a cave on the island in 1989, which was dated to approximately 14,000 years ago. However, previous examinations had revealed no "shell heaps, bones, charcoal or other remains which might indicate Aboriginal occupation", suggesting that the area was passed through by the ancestors of Aboriginal Tasmanians but not permanently inhabited. It was uninhabited at the time of European discovery.

Captain Reed was the first European to discover King Island in 1799 while hunting seals in the schooner Martha. Matthew Flinders’ first map of Van Diemen's Land and the Bass Strait, which was sent to England (before Flinders had left) and was published in June 1800, did not show King Island. However, before Flinders left Sydney for England in 1800, Reed had informed Flinders of the existence of the island. Flinders' second map of Van Diemen's Land and Bass's Strait (properly finished en route to England) and published with his Observations in 1801 shows:

"Land of considerable extent has been seen about this situation".

Although the impressive 48 m granite tower, Australia's tallest lighthouse, was finished and the light first lit on 1 November 1861, the Cape Wickham Lighthouse was only officially opened in November 2011 at a community celebration of the light's 150th anniversary.

Captain John Black also visited the island just after Reed and named it King's Island after Governor Philip Gidley King. Captain John Black was sailing in the brig Harbinger, after which the dangerous Harbinger Rocks off the island's north-west coast are named. It was found to abound in both fur seals and Southern elephant seals which were soon exploited to local extinction.

Governor King, knowing that the French navigator Nicolas Baudin was going to head for the island, when he left Port Jackson in 1800, sent the Cumberland from Sydney to formally claim the islands for Britain. The Cumberland arrived just before the French and the British had hastily erected the British Flag in a tree. Baudin still circumnavigated and extensively mapped the Island in 1802, giving French names to some localities which are still in use today like "Phoques Bay" on the north-west coast.

As a result of this incident, British settlements were established at the River Derwent and Port Dalrymple in Tasmania and later Port Phillip. 

Map - King Island

Latitude / Longitude : 39° 52' 35" S / 143° 59' 11" E | Time zone : UTC+11:0 / UTC+10 | Currency : AUD | Telephone : 61  


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Cape Wickham Lighthouse 1887
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Cataraqui wreck
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The island today
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King Island geology
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Dromaius parvulus
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King Island
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King Island

Country - Australia

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Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania and numerous smaller islands. It is the largest country in Oceania and the world's sixth-largest country by total area. The neighbouring countries are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and East Timor to the north; the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east. The population of million is highly urbanised and heavily concentrated on the eastern seaboard. Australia's capital is Canberra, and its largest city is Sydney. The country's other major metropolitan areas are Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.

Australia was inhabited by indigenous Australians for about 60,000 years before the first British settlement in the late 18th century. It is documented that Aborigines spoke languages that can be classified into about 250 groups. After the European exploration of the continent by Dutch explorers in 1606, who named it New Holland, Australia's eastern half was claimed by Great Britain in 1770 and initially settled through penal transportation to the colony of New South Wales from 26 January 1788, a date which became Australia's national day. The population grew steadily in subsequent decades, and by the 1850s most of the continent had been explored and an additional five self-governing crown colonies established. On 1 January 1901, the six colonies federated, forming the Commonwealth of Australia. Australia has since maintained a stable liberal democratic political system that functions as a federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy, comprising six states and ten territories.
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