February 10 - 16, 2019: Issue 393



King Island Coastline.


by George Repin

King Island, in the Roaring Forties approximately 80 Kms. off the north-western tip of the main island of Tasmania is known for the range and quality of its dairy products – luscious King Island cream and varieties of distinctive premium, hand crafted cheeses – and for its prime, quality graded grass-fed beef.

It is not as well known for an important, though small, export industry based on the drying and milling of storm cast Bull Kelp (Durvillea Pototorum) collected on the beaches, mainly on the west coast of the island.

Kelp, with brown leathery fronds up to 8 metres in length, grows on rocks at sea. It breaks away during heavy weather and storm activity floating on to beaches where it is collected by “suppliers” and taken to King Island Kelp Industries at Currie on the island where it is processed.

Kelp Industries Visitors Centre in Currie.

Using S – shaped hooks the Kelp plants are hung on poles which are placed on racks at a conveniently low level for this to be easily done.  The Kelp is then mechanically lifted from the lower racks to higher level racks for storage and atmospheric pre-drying. After about two weeks the air-dried kelp is fed into a wood-fired drying system in which sufficient moisture is removed so that the kelp can be stored. It is now brittle. In the next stages of processing the kelp is milled to a granular form.  The standard milled product is packed into one tonne bags for export while the finer material is sieved and packed into 20 Kg. bags for the domestic market.

Kelp loaded first on low level racks.

Rows of drying racks

Air drying of kelp on high level racks.

The kelp delivered by each “supplier” is weighed separately and the supplier paid on the weight of dried kelp product. While the Company employs less than ten people, many more are involved as “suppliers” collecting kelp.

Kelp is rich in minerals and produces algin a complex carbohydrate (polysaccharide) useful in various industrial processes.  Algin is added to ice cream before freezing to prevent crystallisation and it is used as a suspending and emulsifying agent in other food production.

It is also used in making salad dressings, detergents, toothpaste and, apparently, has a place in the manufacture of some tyres.

Since 1976 King Island Kelp Industries has exported more than 80,000 tonnes of dried Bull Kelp (equivalent to about half a million tonnes of wet kelp).

Most of the company’s production is bought by an international organisation, ISP Alginates, which controls about 30% of the world market in alginates. Most King Island kelp goes to Scotland, with some to Norway.

Alginate products have thousands of different applications. King Island Kelp Industries point out that, “in one form or another, it is very likely that you eat, drink, wear or in some other way enjoy the benefit” of King Island kelp.

Acknowledgement: Information on the processing of kelp on King Island has been derived from a personal visit to King Island Kelp Industries in 2009 and from the Company’s website.

Photographs by George Repin

Previous Reflections by George Repin 

The Nineteen Thirties  Remembering Rowe Street  The Sydney Push  Saturday Night at the Movies  Shooting Through Like A Bondi Tram  A Stop On The Road To Canberra  City Department Stores - Gone and Mostly Forgotten  An Australian Icon - thanks to Billy Hughes  Crossing The Pacific in the 1930s  Hill End  The Paragon at Katoomba  Seafood In Sydney  How Far From Sydney?  Cockatoo Island Over The Years  The Seagull at the Melbourne Festival in 1991  Busby's Bore  The Trocadero In Sydney  Cahill's restaurants  Medical Pioneers in Australian Wine Making  Pedal Power and the Royal Flying Doctor Service  Pambula and the Charles Darwin Connection  Gloucester and the Barrington Tops  A Millenium Apart  Have You Stopped to Look?  Gulgong  Il Porcellino  Olympia  Durham Hall  Sargent's Tea Rooms Pie Shops and Street Photographers  The Ballet Russes and Their Friends in Australia  Hotels at Bondi  Alma Ata Conference - 1978 Keukenhof - 1954 The Lands Department Building and Yellowblock Sandstone  The Goroka Show - 1958  A Gem On The Quay  Staffa  The Matson Line and Keepsake Menus Kokeshi Dolls  The Coal Mine At Balmain  The Hyde Park Barracks  The Changing Faces Of Sydney From Pounds and Pence to Dollars and Cents Nell Tritton and Alexander Kerensky  Making A Difference In Ethiopia William Balmain  J C Bendrodt and Princes Restaurant Azzalin Orlando Romano and Romano's Restaurant  Waldheim  Alcohol in Restaurants Before 1955  King Island Kelp  The Mercury Theatre   Around Angkor - 1963   Angkor Wat 1963  Costumes From the Ballets Russe Clifton at Kirribilli  Chairman Mao's Personal Physician  The Toby Tavern The MoKa at Kings Cross  The Oceaographic  Museum  in Monaco  The Island of Elba  Russian Fairy Tale Plates  Meteora  Souda Bay War Cemetery Barrow, Alaska  Cloisonné  Tripitaka Koreana Minshuku The Third Man Photographs and Memories  Not A Chagall!  Did You Listen? Did You Ask?  Napier (Ahuriri, Maori) New Zealand  Borobudur  Ggantija Temples Plumes and Pearlshells  Murano  University of Padua  Ancient Puebloe Peoples - The Anasazi   Pula  The Gondolas of Venice Cinque Terre  Visiting the Iban David The Living Desert Bryce Canyon National Park   Aphrodisias   The Divine Comedy Caodaism  Sapa and local Hill People  A Few Children  Cappadocia  Symi Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre   Aboriginal Rock Art on Bigge Island    ANZAC Cove (Ari Burnu) 25 April, 1997  Hotere Garden Oputae  Children of the Trobriand Islands  Page Park Market - Rabaul  Rabual   Kotor, Montenegro   Galleries of Photographs I   Lascaux  Galleries of Photographs II   The Cathedral of St. James – Šibenik, Croatia  Ivan Meštrović  - Sculptor   Delphi   Gallery of Photographs III  The Handicrafts of Chiang Mai Raft Point  San Simeon - "Hearst Castle"  Floriade - The Netherlands - 1982  Russian New Year  Mycenae  "Flightseeing" Out Of Anchorage Alaska  The White Pass and Yukon Route  Totem Poles  Tivkin Cemetery  Krka National Park - Croatia  Tavistock Square and the BMA  Orthodox Easter  Wieliczka Salt Mine  A Walk on Santorini  Indonesian Snapshots  Ephesus - The Library of Celsus  Ephesus - Some Places Of Interest  Waimea Canyon and the Kalalau Valley United Nations Headquarters 1958  A Miscellany of Flower Images  Gardens  Bath St. David's In Wales   Zion National Park Nicholas Himona - Artist  Kraków  Lilianfels  Collonges-La-Rouge  Gingerbread Houses   Cape Sounion   Delos  Wroclaw  Colonial Williamsburg  Gruyères   Strasbourg  Coventry Cathedral  The Roman Theatre at Aspendos  Turkish Carpets The Duomo of Orvieto  Rovinj  The City Walls of Dubrovnik Monaco - Snapshots   Bonifacio, Corsica  Autumn in New England USA  The Great Ocean Road  Pompeii  Didyma  Lawrence Hargrave 1850-1915  The Corinth Canal  Malta  Snapshots of Amsterdam Café Central - Vienna  The Forbidden City - Beijing, China  A Ride on the Jungfrau Railway - 1954   Snapshots in the Highlands of Scotland 1954  Must See Sights in Paris - 1954  Corfu  Reflections On the Nineteen Thirties The Gold Souk in Dubai  Stromboli   Ha Long Bay - Vietnam  Lake Argyle The Bungle Bungle Range Langgi Inlet, W.A.  White Cliffs, NSW - 1990  Sturt National Park - May, 1990 A Few Statues and Water Spouts  The Dodecanese Archipelago  Rhodes  Lindos The Church on Spilled Blood - 2005 Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad Repin's In "Ladies In Black"  Signs of the Times at Sydney Museum: Repin Inns

Copyright George Repin 2019. All Rights Reserved.