by Roger Findlay

King Island is renowned for excellent beef and dairy products. King Island dairy products and beef can be found in the two major supermarket chains throughout Australia and this appears to be good for those working the island for their living.

King Island Cattle Farmers

Jeanette and I both come from big cities but since moving to rural NSW many years ago we have been surrounded by farms, farmers and their stock. A few years ago we were in Currie, King Island’s major town. We were looking at property in the window of a real estate/stock agent and I happened to notice an advertisement for an upcoming bull sale.

Later in the week, we were driving to a destination north of Currie and we encountered a delay caused by farmers moving cattle to new pasture. Knowing the routine well, we were able to help them move the cattle along the track in our slow moving vehicle.

King Island - Cattle
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King Island cattle farmers move their stock

Invitation to a Bull Sale

The farmers thanked us for the help and continued to make us feel like most welcome visitors to King Island. I seized the opportunity to ask them whether they were going to the bull sale and they said that they’d see us there. Jeanette was wondering what this was all about; not shoes or handbags?

King Island - Bull Sale Auction Venue
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Bull sale auction site, King Island Tasmania

We found the site of the bull sale easily as there were numerous farm utes parked outside the gate. Most of the farmers had already arrived and we got a few glances that would have embarrassed the more sensitive types. Ladies with their children were serving tea and cakes and within a minute we were totally accepted and fitting in. Jeanette was soon entertaining the children and coochy-cooing babies while I (the could-have-been cattle baron) strolled around the pens.

King Island - Bulls for Sale
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Unique Tasmanian holiday experience: King Island bull sale

The Running of the Bulls

Some of the farmers were far too busy with the bulls to notice my presence. This was no conventional auction. The auctioneer explained that the Helmsman system allows the buyer to bid without pressure and has more than one period of opportunity to reassess the bid.

King Island - Live Beef Auction Board
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King Island Beef: buying at the bull sale

At this sale, there were twelve bulls from a single source. Each of the Herefords was numbered and their weight was displayed on the auctioneers board. Weights ranged between 710kg and 868kg but they were young and growing boys ready to do what they do best.

I fancied number four but then I always seem to pick the most expensive item! Jeanette reminded me that we couldn’t take one on the plane and that excess baggage charges were $2 a kilo!

King Island - A Prime Beef Steak
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Prime King Island Beef

Our friendly farmers from the north of King Island had made their choices and succeeded in purchasing four bulls for a cool $15,800 plus GST.

King Island - Bull Sale
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$4800 bull: King Island beef industry

King Island Beef on the BBQ

The two brothers, with a Dutch surname, assured me that the same quality beast would cost much more on mainland Tasmania. They then invited us to stay for drinks as the huge, beer-filled eskies were opened.

We stayed a little longer while the vendor (a well respected King Islander) spoke on the state of the King Island beef industry and where the future lies. He then invited everyone back to his homestead for a BBQ and drinks but we had to decline the offer and take a safe drive along the road to the excellent Naracoopa Holiday Cottage where we were staying.

Editor’s Note: Again, we must thank Roger for sharing his unique Tassie experience with us. It’s nothing like a standard tourism brochure for King Island. It’s not just another advertisement for the world-renowned Tasmanian produce. And that’s exactly why we love his articles. They’re real, different and interesting. And it shows just how tourists can meet locals, gain a true insight into a place and come away with memories like these.

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Map: King Island Tasmania…