Photo credit: Ricky French

Artist Caroline Kininmonth rescued an old boathouse on King Island, turning it into an eatery with a difference.

Story + Photos Ricky French

At around 9am each morning, the crayfish boats that ply the waters off King Island’s wild west coast return to Currie Harbour with their catch. A breakwater quells the swell, and as the sea spray falls away the boats glide past a bright yellow boathouse tucked into a sheltered cove, beneath a towering lighthouse on a hill.

It’s been many years since the boathouse – built in 1871 – last housed a boat. Long gone, too, are the days when it was used as a lock-up for valuables salvaged from the ships that wrecked along this treacherous stretch. Its stint as a schoolhouse for the lighthouse keepers’ children is remembered only in journals. Previous incarnations also include being a storeroom for explosives during World War II, a fish factory, a refuge for squatters and a secret meeting spot for lovers’ trysts.

It survived fires and more than 150 years of fearsome squalls, but its days were looking numbered in 1990 when Caroline Kininmonth, a Melbourne artist who’d moved to the island, adopted the neglected building and reinvented it once more, this time as a restaurant. But this would be no ordinary eatery. There are no staff and no menus. Diners supply their own provisions and do their own washing up. This strange business model has earned the little yellow boathouse the intriguing nickname, ‘The restaurant with no food’.

The concept is deceptively simple: bring your own food and enjoy a meal as you look out over the harbour. Fire up the barbie, put on a record, light the fire or belt out a tune on the piano. And be sure to leave a donation before you leave. “It’s what you want to make it,” Caroline says…

Read the full story in the Dec/Jan 2023 issue of Outback magazine.