Currie

Currie is the administrative and commercial centre of King Island, the western-most island in Bass Strait. Currie is on the west side of the island, occupying a harbour which is protected by an extensive breakwater. It was originally named Howie’s Boat Harbour after David Howie, an early visitor and unofficial resident of the island in the 1840s. It was renamed after Archibald Currie (1830–1914), a shipowner who purchased the remains of the Netherby wrecked near there in 1866, and used the harbour as a base for salvage operations. The harbour was used for similar operations on later wrecks in the vicinity including the ”British Admiral” in 1874 and ”Blencathra” in 1875, the latter being wrecked right at the entrance to the harbour.

The town’s civic institutions include the hospital, King Island District High School (to year 10), the museum, four churches, Council chambers and the town hall. There are golf, bowling, tennis and other sports facilities. The commercial centre include airline agencies, hotel, restaurants, shops specialising in King Island foods and produce and the usual range of supermarket, newsagent’s and pharmacist’s outlets. The Parer Hotel is named after the Parer family, the island’s first hoteliers, from whom Ray Parer (aviator) and Damien Parer (war photographer) were descended.

Local industries are fishing (for which the harbour has a wharf), food processing, tourism and a kelp factory. The kelp is harvested after it is washed up after westerly weather, and milled for export to Scotland. The extract is used in over one-thousand food, cosmetic and other products. Kelp harvesting began in the early 1970s, and has helped to offset unemployment from the closed scheelite mine at Grassy.

A short distance north of Currie are the racecourse, abattoir, aerodrome and the King Island cheese factory. Much of the meat from the abattoir is exported to Japan.

Electricity is generated by a diesel plant and by wind-driven apparatus installed in 1998.

The census populations of Currie have been 215 (1911), 678 (1954), 819 (1991).

currie2.jpg
Main Street, Currie, King Island, Postcard dated c.1910

Further Reading:

  • Edgecombe, Jean, “Discovering King Island, Western Bass Strait”, the author, 1993.
  • Hooper, R.H., “The King Island Story””, Peko-Wallsend Ltd., 1973.
  • Wood, Michael, “Story of King Island, King Island Quik Print, 1990.

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