Kittawa Lodge has been reviewed by Stuff NZ and has been heralded for its quiet luxury, attentive service and sumptuous meals.
You can read the full article here.
Kittawa Lodge, King Island, Australia: Quiet luxury in the Bass Strait
There are 1600 people on Tasmania’s King Island, and about 700,000 wallabies. At 65km long, the island gives people room to spread out.
If you’re driving on back roads you might see one kelp truck and one car in 30 minutes. The wallabies you’ll see a lot more of. They hop alongside and across the road with little regard for their personal safety.
We quickly realise why the hire car came with a sign hanging from the rearview mirror advising us to look out for the local wildlife.
King Island sits in the Bass Strait, northwest of mainland Tasmania and south of Melbourne. We’re here to visit Kittawa Lodge, a small boutique accommodation offering opened in 2019 by a Sydney couple looking for a change of pace. When we arrive after half a day of exploring and comment on the quiet, our host, Nick Stead, laughs.
“There’s not a spare bed or rental car on the island,” he says. “This is literally as busy as it gets.”
It’s hard to believe. Aside from our stops in the main town of Currie (population 800) and a couple of distant anglers, we hardly see another soul in our three days on King Island. Walks above the ironbound coast and visits to lighthouses take place in total privacy.
Those seeking some genuine time out, some real room to move, will find it on this secluded island. Driving along gravel roads through farmland and mature forest, it feels like you’ve discovered a secret.
That remoteness is what attracted Stead and his husband, Aaron Suine, to King Island. Like so many couples, they’d long imagined opening a place of their own, what it might look like, how they’d set it up, where it would be. Every holiday they took together was research, with dinner conversation focused on what they liked and didn’t like about their current spot. Years of thought, saving, and planning have gone into the place.
It’s paid off. Kittawa Lodge is stunning. Luxury here is in the details, like the hand-made concrete tub, deep and long enough that you feel a bit indulgent even filling it up the whole way.
The king-size bed is made with Cultiver linens and sits opposite a picture window fitted with an electric blind so you can reveal the morning view without getting out of bed. The cupboards are full of hand-made ceramic plates and Riedel glassware, and that bathtub is complemented by soaps and shampoos made on the island with custom scents.
Art from local painters Dianne and Andrew Blake hangs on the walls, with each lodge functioning as a gallery. Guests can, and often do, take the pieces home as a souvenir. They’ve thought of everything. Stead and Suine are smart, passionate people with great taste, and Kittawa is an expression of that.
If it’s in the details, though, luxury is also in the sense of space. Kittawa consists of two one-bedroom lodges, each tucked away and hidden from the others, giving a sense of total privacy. A wallaby might hop along for a snack outside your bathroom window while you’re in the tub, but otherwise, it’s easy to feel like you have the island to yourself. Suine and Stead live on the 96-acre (39-hectare) property with their six-year-old son, Abraham, but once you’re inside, you’d never know they were there.
Until Suine taps on the door with the first course of dinner, that is. Self-taught and influenced by his Italian nonna, the former corporate lawyer is a bit of a genius in the kitchen, using seasonal local produce, meat and fish to tell a story.
He’s cooking us a four-course meal to welcome us to the island, starting with a beetroot carpaccio and homemade gnocchi and finishing with balsamic strawberries with ice cream. It was all sensational. Not just restaurant level, but a restaurant you’d go back to for your next birthday. Those strawberries will be remembered for some time. Divine.
This private service is an optional extra, but any stay at Kittawa is fully catered, with breakfast and dinner ready for you to prepare and a packed picnic lunch for each day of your stay. The mini bar is also not exactly standard: expect well-chosen Tasmanian wines, actually good bottled negronis, and premium spirits in bottles big enough to share.
You could be forgiven for just staying put, especially with 800 metres of private coastline to wander down, but the rest of King Island is more than worth your time.
Head south to see the Calcified Forest and the Seal Rock lookout, then east for a stroll up the Naracoopa Wharf. In the main township of Currie, you’ll find a lighthouse and maritime museum (open a few hours a week), as well as a bakery selling camembert and crayfish pies.
The camembert comes from the King Island Dairy, just north of Currie and a must-visit for anyone who is passionate about a cheeseboard. Have a complimentary tasting and then nab a few wedges of your favourites for pre-dinner snacking for the rest of your stay.
Head further north and you’ll wind up at Cape Wickham, home to a wonderful demonstration of Tasmania’s Roaring Forties winds, and the tallest lighthouse in the southern hemisphere. Built from granite in 1845 and 48 metres tall, it was extremely necessary. Shipwrecks surround King Island on all sides.
Just east of there sits Disappointment Bay, a postcard white sand beach that stands in contrast to the rugged, unforgiving coast of the south-west of the island. East again is Martha Lavinia, a legendary surf beach and the explanation for the several surfboards we spotted at baggage claim.
Between Currie and Naracoopa is the King Island Brewhouse, opened in July last year by locals Sarah and Corey Brazendale. The pair met on a season in Antarctica – she was there as part of her marine biology studies, he was a mechanic – and after a few years, settled on the island.
The brewery sits next to her parents’ farm, and the older of their two boys goes to school with Abraham, whose dads run Kittawa. Everyone knows everyone around here.
After we’ve enjoyed a tasting paddle of the brewhouse’s six beers, and chatted a little with Sarah’s mum as she gardens, Corey comes home with some shopping. Despite Covid restrictions, they’ve been busy since opening, and he’s optimistic.
“It feels like King Island is on the cusp of something,” he says. “It’s already a destination, but it could really be something.”
He’s right. Go now while it’s still this blissfully quiet and you can have it to yourself.