One of the best places in Australia (and without doubt the best place in South Australia) to see Australia’s native wildlife and flora. On land there are kangaroos, koalas, echidnas, platypus, goannas and birds of every shape and size (255 species, many rare or endangered); in the surrounding ocean there are seals, sea lions, dolphins, whales (in season) and little penguin. The coastal scenery is superb and the island is big enough to never feel crowded, even in peak holiday season.
Kangaroo Island, which lies across the mouth of Spencer Gulf, is Australia’s third largest island (after Tasmania and Melville Island). Separated from Cape Jervis on the mainland by the narrow Backstairs Passage, and from Yorke Peninsula to the north by Investigator Strait, the island is much larger than most visitors expect it to be – it is about 155 km long and 55 km wide at its widest, and those who try to experience in one day all that the island have to offer soon realise it is an impossibility. Kangaroo Island has a rugged and extremely beautiful coastge, particularly at its west end, and the waters around it teem with fish.
It has become a popular holiday place for South Australians. and its main settlement, The town of Kingscote is linked by a regular air service to Adelaide and a vehicle/passenger ferry service to Cape Jervis at the foot of Fleurieu Peninsula.
The island is well developed with all the modern facilities available elsewhere in Australia. It has four towns – Kingscote, American River, Penneshaw and the inland rural centre Parndana, which are connected by over 1,600 km of roads, many of which are unsealed.
Three magnificent lighthouses were built in 1852, 1858 and 1906, respectively. Cape Willoughby (to the east), Cape Borda (north-west) and Cape Du Couedic (north-south). Over eighty shipwrecks are literally scattered around the island, the largest being the 5865 ton Japanese freighter Portland Maru, lost in 1935. The most famous however are the 1552 ton fully-rigged clipper Loch Vennachar, lost of the far west tip of the island, and the 1280 ton ship Loch Sloy, also lost at the western end of the island, in 1899. In spite of its lighthouses and modern navigational aids, many vessels were lost in the latter half of the 20th century, mainly due to the proliferation of fishing in the islands rich waters.
Throughout the warmest part of the year (October – April) kayak tours operate at carefully selected locations on Kangaroo Island. Accompanying you on your kayaking trip is an experienced local guide who will ensure a safe, enjoyable and relaxing time on the water. There is an abundance of wildlife to see as you glide across pristine waters – see dolphins, sea eagles, pelicans, fish, ducks, swans, kangaroos and much more. Regular day time tours are 2 hours in duration, departing twice a day, as well as sunset tours.
- Accommodation details
Location: 110 km south-west of Adelaide; 16 km south west of the tip of Fleurieu Peninsula across Backstairs Passage; 40 km south of Yorke Peninsula across Investigator Strait.
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Remarkable Rocks, Flinders Chase National Park
A 54,950 ha. fauna and flora reserve on the western tip of the island, Flinders Chase National Park is 101 km from Kingscote. The park features the spectacular Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch as well as a colony of long nosed fur-seals at Cape du Couedic. A network of walking trails and boardwalks enable you to enjoy the park and its diverse wildlife. One of Kangaroo Island’s most photographed locations, Remarkable Rocks is a collection of huge granite boulders on a dome 80 metres above sea level. No visit to Kangaroo Island is complete without a trek to this signature landmarks. It took 500 million years for rain, wind, and pounding waves to create them.
Remarkable Rocks, Flinders Chase National Park
Not far from Remarkable Rocks, on Cape du Couedic, is another of the island’s iconic places – Admirals Arch, a distinctive rock bridge near the Cape du Couedic Lighthouse on the island’s southwest coast. The boardwalk leading to the Admirals Arch is nearly as scenic as the landmark itself. The Admirals Arch viewing platform is also an ideal place to observe the New Zealand fur seal colony that has established itself below the landmark.
Admirals Arch, Flinders Chase National Park
Though its entrance is arch-shaped, Admirals Arch is in fact an open cave formed when part of the cliff collapsed into the sea. Protected by Flinders Chase National Park, Admirals Arch can be reached via a viewing platform and boardwalk around the cliff face which leads visitors to the spectacular natural arch sculptured by the sea, where New Zealand fur seals can be seen frolicking in the surf or resting on the rocks.
Another unique thing about Admirals Arch is the stalactites which dangle from the rocky ceiling of this former cave. The floor, on the other hand, is very smooth. Whale migration season takes place between May and October, but dolphins are frequently spotted throughout the year.
Location: Flinders Chase National Park is located 110km west of Kingscote. Follow the Playford Highway or South Coast Road.
Baudin Conservation Park
Baudin Conservation Park was a family farm from 1861 to 2001. Interpretation along the Ironstone Hill Hike that follows the original bullock track provides an insight into how the Bates family lived and worked in this area. With spectacular views across Backstairs Passage to the Fleurieu Peninsula, the hike leads to Ironstone Hill where the ruins of the Bates’ cottage and a stone threshing floor remain.
While walking through the park you may encounter little penguins – which are best observed at night using a red filtered torch. Tammar wallabies and rare glossy black-cockatoos may also be seen feeding in the sheoak forest. You may even catch a glimpse of dolphins swimming in Backstairs Passage adjoining the park.
Location: Baudin Conservation Park is located 2km south east of Penneshaw. Access is via Frenchman’s Terrace. Car parking is available at the start of Binneys Track.
Cape Gantheaume Conservation Park
Vast areas of wilderness, the Island’s largest freshwater lake and coastal scenery provide a spectacular backdrop to Cape Gantheaume Conservation Park on the south coast of Kangaroo Island. The park has plenty of walking opportunities, including the unmarked Cape Gantheaume Coastal Trek, suitable for experienced hikers only, and established trails at Murray Lagoon. The lagoon supports wetland habitat for abundant birdlife, while D’Estrees Bay has beautiful beaches for recreation. This bay is a historic site connected to the island’s early whaling industry.
The self-guided drive along D’Estrees Bay Road allows the visitor to discover the natural and cultural significance of the area. Designated points of interest along the 8km drive are marked.
Location: Cape Gantheaume Conservation Park is located 40km south west of Kingscote. Access is via Birchmore Road.
Cape Willoughby Conservation Park
Rich in maritime history, Cape Willoughby Conservation Park is home to South Australia’s first lighthouse. Although the lighthouse operated to prevent shipwrecks, a number of ships sank off the coastline, the remnants of which can still be found in the area. A guided tour of the lightstation is recommended. Enjoy spectacular views across Backstairs Passage from the top of the lighthouse. From here you can occasionally see large schools of salmon, or humpback, southern right and killer whales
Location: Cape Willoughby Conservation Park is located 27km south east of Penneshaw. Access is via Cape Willoughby Road.
Kelly Hill Conservation Park
Explore the stunning limestone caves at Kelly Hill Conservation Park located in the south-west of Kangaroo Island and discover a magical underground world filled with amazing formations. Take a guided tour of this impressive cave system and walk amidst ornate cave formations and discover how the caves and the spectacular decorations are formed. Experience the splendour of the Show Cave Tour and admire the array of stalactite, stalagmite, shawl, helictite and column formations. Kelly Hill Caves Visitor Centre is open 10.15am-4.30pm daily (except Christmas Day).
Location: Kelly Hill Conservation Park is located 90km south west of Kingscote. Access via South Coast Road.
A favourite for beach lovers, Lashmar Conservation Park adjoins the long sandy beach at Antechamber Bay. The park is an ideal location for swimming, fishing and birdwatching and is just a short drive from Cape Willoughby lightstation. Explore the park further by canoeing your way along the tranquil Chapman River which flows through the park and into the sea at Antechamber Bay. Antechamber Bay has a stand of ancient Yacca trees (Xanthorrhoea Tateana). A scenic picnic area and campground are also available within the park.
Location: Lashmar Conservation Park is located 40km south east of Penneshaw. Access is via Hog Bay Road.
Seal Bay has been home to an Australian sea lion population for thousands of years, and offers one of the most exceptional nature-based experiences in the world. On its large sandy beach and dune area, a breeding colony of Australian sea lions, whose forebears managed to survive the savagery of early sealers, can be seen resting in the sun after feeding at sea for three days. Others ride the waves onto the beach. It is well worth a visit to the lookout before commencing the guided tour.
There are no enclosures or cages at Seal Bay. Instead, under the guidance of a National Parks Ranger, visitors are taken to within a few metres of the resting sea lions, where the experienced guides teach about these endangered animals. If you prefer, you can set your own pace on the wheelchair accessible 900 metre (return) boardwalk which meanders through the dunes to a number of viewing platforms. This is the only place in the world where you can see Australian sea lions at close quarters and walk on a beach where pups play, bulls fight for supremacy and resting mothers suckle their young.
There are picnic and barbecue areas at nearby Bales Beach, where you can stop for lunch. A short walk from the picnic grounds will take you to a lookout with excellent views of Cape Gantheaume and the wilderness area.
Location: Seal Bay Conservation Park is 45 minutes by road from Kangaroo Island’s main town of Kingscote.
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Kingscote is the largest town on Kangaroo Island. It is a well established tourist centre, and also an administrative and communications centre. Situated on the shores of the beautiful Nepean Bay, with a panoramic view of the boat-studded harbour, Kingscote is the commercial and business hub of the Island. To the north there are steep cliffs that descend steeply to Reeves Point (old Kingscote), one of the most important heritage sites in South Australia.
Penneshaw, one of the townships on Kangaroo Island, is the island’s main ferry port with regular services from Cape Jervis. This Cornish style town features a Maritime and Folk Museum, and evening tours to a colony of Little Penguin, the only species of penguin to breed in Australian waters.
This small settlement was named by the American sealers who settled there in the early 1800s. Today it is a pleasant destination which is popular with holidaymakers who want to enjoy aquatic activities including fishing, swimming, boating and sailing. The town also boasted the first house (dating from 1844 and built out of pug and split pine by John Buick) on Kangaroo Island though it is no longer standing. There is a plaque to the American brig Union with an anchor which was recovered near the town’s wharf in 1969.
Little Sahara is a small patch of dunes on Kangaroo Island that can be found away from the coast, out of sight of any beaches. It is a heritage area, a naturally occurring sand dune system roughly covering two square kilometres. The dunes vary in size with plenty of small dunes and the highest dune is approximately 70 metres above sea level. Visitors may Sand-board and Toboggan on the dunes by renting the equipment from several local merchants located in Vivonne Bay.
Location: Little Sahara is one of the busier and more popular attractions on the island. It’s also close to the even bigger drawcard, Seal Bay (see above), where you can see a rare colony of Australian sea lions.
Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary
The 5000 acre Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary is situated on the western end of Kangaroo Island. It is the gateway to South Australia’s most iconic wilderness area. Pristine beaches,spectacular coastline,old growth maritime bushland and forest plus abundant wildlife combine to make this area one of Australia’s most awe inspiring places. Hanson Bay is a breeding ground for Fairy Penguins.
The Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary is famous for its abundant native bird and animal wildlife. Here you will encounter Australian native animals such as Koalas, Kangaroos, Tammar Wallabies, Possums and Echidnas. The Sanctuary’s Koala Walk is open every day for Koala viewing and is recognised as the best place on Kangaroo Island to see a sustainable population of Koalas in the wild. Guided nocturnal tours and guided and unguided daytime walks of the Sanctuary are available. Self contained cabins, four log and two modern, offer accommodation within the Sanctuary, each with truly spectacular views of the beautiful turquoise waters of Hanson Bay.
Location: Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary is a 90 minute/140 kilometre drive from Penneshaw and a 60 minute/100 kilometre drive from Kingscote via South Coast Road. Travel times are longer from late afternoon until mid morning due to wildlife activity.
Stokes Bay is a coastal community situated adjacent to Lathami Conservation Park in the middle of the north coast of Kangaroo Island. The secluded beach at Stokes Bay, located on Kangaroo Island’s serene north coast, is protected from the pounding surf by a giant pool surrounded by rocks. The tranquil location of Stokes Bay makes the community a popular place for holiday cottages and campgrounds. The local campground contains a cafe open between October and May, a picnic area, and barbecue facilities.
More than 150 different flowers and plants native to Kangaroo Island grow alongside 750 more plant species at the Stokes Bay Bush Garden. The seasonal native orchids are especially beautiful. Lathami Conservation Park, located next to Stokes Bay, is named for an endangered glossy black cockatoo. These gorgeous birds soar above impressive gorges joined by two bodies of water named Gum Creek and Deep Gully.
Location: The island’s most populous town, Kingscote, is about an hour’s drive southeast of Stokes Bay along the Playford Highway.
Cape Willoughby Lighthouse
Cape Willoughby Lighthouse (1852): The light station at Cape Willoughby is the oldest lighthouse in South Australia. The isolation and beauty of this part of the Dudley Peninsula is as striking now as when the first keepers and their families came to Kangaroo Island more than a hundred and fifty years ago. Built in 1927, lighthouse keepers cottages form part of the light keepers settlement of Cape Willoughby. Accommodation is available in the cottages. Stones from the original 1850’s lighthouse dwellings were used to build the large white walls around the cottages.
Take in the views of Backstairs Passage at the most eastern tip of Kangaroo Island. A small museum in the old lighthouse keepers cottage displays historic photographs.
Cape Borda Lighthouse
Cape Borda Lighthouse (1858): Set within Flinders Chase National Park, Cape Borda Lighthouse is perched on cliffs overlooking Investigator Strait. Located on the north western corner of Kangaroo Island, this unique square lighthouse was built in 1858 and is steeped in European history. A small graveyard where 13 people are buried is near the lighthouse.
To discover the maritime history of the area you can take a tour of the lightstation. The lighthouse area features a restored signal cannon, a museum and kiosk where refreshments and souvenirs are available. Don’t miss the daily cannon firing on the 12.30pm tour. After exploring the lighthouse, enjoy a stroll along one of the walking trails around the park including the Cliff Top Hike. This short trail through a picturesque rock garden takes you to a stone lookout that provides an ideal vantage point for spotting whales and dolphins.
Cape Du Couedic Lighthouse
Cape Du Couedic Lighthouse (1906): A year after this French explorer Nicholas Baudin passed on the opposite side of the island naming the south western point Cape du Couedic after his friend and famous French sea captain Charles Louis, Chevalier du Couedic de Kergoualer (1740-1780). This coastline off Flinders Chase had become the final resting place for 14 ships which came to grief on the rocky shores before moves were made to build a lighthouse. The Cape du Couedic Lighthouse was constructed between 1906-1909 and was the fifteenth to be built on South Australia’s coast. It was also the last light to be built in South Australia before the Commonwealth Government took over the management and control of Australian lighthouses in 1915. The tower itself was built from 2,000 pieces of local stone. Three four roomed cottages were also built of local stone with slate roofs for the headkeeper and two assistants. These are now available as visitor accommodation.
Location: Cape du Couedic is located 96 kilometres south west of Kingscote, within the Flinders Chase National Park. It is the most south westerly point of the Kangaroo Island coast.
Cape St Albans Lighthouse
Cape St Albans Lighthouse (1908):
Cape St Albans serves both as the east headland of Antechamber Bay and as the west headland of Moncrieff Bay. It was named after the town of St Albans in Hertfordshire by Thomas Lipson on 21 March 1850. The light station was initially a temporary fixed light installed during early 1908 and which was subsequently replaced by a 9 metre high round masonry tower that was first lit in November 1908. It is not open to the public.
Location: Cape St Albans (also known as Cape St Alban) is a headland located on the north coast of the Dudley Peninsula, about 18 kilometres south-east of the town of Penneshaw.
Wheatons Beach, D’Estrees Bay
At peaceful and unspoiled D’Estrees Bay the day can be spent beachcombing for nautilus shells, or exploring Wreckers Beach and Osmanli Reef with its 1853 shipwreck.
Along the beaches of D’Estrees Bay you will see large deposits of seagrass washed ashore. Extensive seagrass meadows flourish in D’Estrees Bay due to the low wave energy and shallow, sunlit waters of the bay. Seagrass meadows play a vital role in the food chain of near shore marine ecosystems, providing a home for many animals including fish, crabs, sponges, sea snails and octopus. Many fish also use the meadows as areas in which to breed.
In the early years of European settlement in South Australia, among the first goods exported were barrels of whale oil and stiff bales of salted sealskins. In the 1840s one of Kangaroo Island s three whaling stations operated from D’Estrees Bay as the sheltered inlet was a perfect calving area for southern right whales in winter. The whaling industry at D’Estrees Bay was short-lived – only four years – and no records of the number of whales caught have survived. he whales were sighted from high look-outs overlooking the coast; the whalemen gave chase in fast clinker built, cedar boats that were about ten metres in length. Once a whale was secured it was towed back into the bay and hauled ashore up a timber ramp or into a natural stone platform where the flensing took place. There are few traces today of the whaling industry. Try-pots and other relics were removed decades ago.
Old threshing floor, Wright’s ruins. The largest stone in the centre is possibly where the horse-driver stood, driving a couple of horses that pulled a huge gindstone around the circle. Wheat and malting barley were the main crops grown here.
Take a walk around the ruins of the two-roomed house of John and Emma Wright, who lived here with their five children around 1876. They farmed the D’Estrees Bay area, planting malting barley and wheat, and hunting wallaby, kangaroo and possum for their skins and meat. They developed well-defined, cultivated paddocks, gardens, yards, sheds and huts.
From the Point Tinline lookout waves can be seen breaking over Osmanli Reef. Just before midnight on 25 November 1853 the Osmanli, an iron-screw steamer en route to Port Adelaide, struck this reef with great force. The 48 passengers and 35 crew members made it safely to shore where they spent a cold night on the beach, before building a makeshift camp the following day. The Osmanli was auctioned in Adelaide for £230, but the wreck was destroyed in heavy seas before a successful salvage could be completed.
The Kangaroo Island Shipwreck Trail explores the history of the island from when Matthew Flinders became the first European to record it during his survey in the Investigator in 1802. In 1803 French Captain Nicolas Baudin circumnavigated and charted the whole island.
From 1803 till 1836, Kangaroo Island was home for sealers, whalers and outcasts. Some of the men were notorious for their crimes and cruelties and one visitor described the Island as the most vicious place in the British Empire at the time.
Over 80 shipwrecks have been recorded following official settlement in 1836. Some like the Loch Sloy, Loch Vennachar, Osmanli and You Yangs were both dramatic and tragic. Many, such as the Portland Maru offer fascinating and rewarding experiences for divers.
Western River Cove
Western River Cove and Western River Conservation Park are lesser visited parts of Kangaroo Island. At this hideaway tucked alongside one of the north coast’s more remote estuaries, a footbridge leads to the cove’s enchanting sandy beach and nearby rockpools.
Western River Cove campground is 50 metres from Western River Beach, which faces Investigator Strait. In winter, waves can be seen crashing at the mouth of the river from the campsite. This picturesque area is ideal for swimming, rock and surf fishing, and children can play in rock pools on the eastern side of the cove. The cove is not accessible for caravans and campervans over five metres due to steep terrain. Contact Kangaroo Island Council Ph (08) 8553 4500.
Western River Wilderness Protection Area
The 2,467 ha Western River Wilderness Protection Area conserves a broad cross-section of vegetation from the main plateau area of the island to its coastal slopes and cliffs. The topography is rugged, with numerous steep slopes and deep gullies. The vegetation consists mainly of open forest, woodland and scrub. The park contains nesting and feeding habitat for Glossy Black Cockatoos. Scenic features include the coastal cliffs and the waterfall on Waterfall Creek. Location: 30 km west of Parndana.
Ravine Des Casoars
The first two wilderness protection areas proclaimed in South Australia – Cape Gantheaume and Ravine Des Casoars – are both on Kangaroo Island. Ravine Des Casoars was given its exotic sounding name by French explorer Nicolas Baudin. Whilst charting the Island in 1802, he noted a large number of ‘cassowaries’. Literally translated, Ravine des Casoars means ‘valley of the cassowaries’. What Baudin actually observed was a large number of the Kangaroo Island Dwarf Emu. Sadly, the Dwarf Emu became extinct between 1802 and official European settlement in 1836. Bushfires and hunting by sealers or whalers are possible explanations for the demise of this unique bird.
The walking track to the sea caves is approximately four kilometres long (8 km return – allow 4 hours), and passes through low mallee vegetation before reaching a panoramic viewpoint. The trail then descends steeply to a small creek, before opening onto a narrow, sandy beach. The beach is flanked by low limestone cliffs which have been constantly exposed to wind and waves. Large caves have been formed, which are home to numerous little (fairy) penguins. Visitors to the caves can observe where early visitors wrote on the cave roof with candle soot.
There are some wonderfully quiet, peaceful corners on Kangaroo Island and Snellings Beach is one of them. Here you can drop your towel and take a dip in the ocean, sunbake on the clean sand, or head off for a walk along the beach. Situated at the mouth of Middle River, this beach is excellent for swimming and surf-fishing, and, at either end of the beach, excellent rock-fishing. The view from the top of Constitution Hill at Snellings Beach is spectacular.
Kangaroo Island: 23.3.1802. Named by Matthew Flinders. 31 kangaroos were killed there for food by Flinders’ crew. Although Flinders had already named Kangaroo Island, French explorer Niclas Baudin named it ‘Isle Borda’ after Jean-Charles de Borda, the celebrated French navigator, mathematician and astronomer who had died in 1799. Baudin’s expedition companion, Louis de Freycinet preferred the name ‘Isle Decres’ after Admiral Denis Duc du Decres, a French Minister of Marine and Colonies who died in 1820.
Francois Peron, who sailed with the Baudin expedition, died in 1810 but in 1816, his second volume about the voyage of discovery to Australia (“Voyage de Decouvertes aux Terres Australes, Vol.II”) referred to Kangaroo Island as Freycinet had called it, “Decres Island”. It was a blatant attempt to take credit for an expedition in which he only played a minor role, but history has righted the wrong he atempted to perpetuate. The name Flinders gave the island is the one that was eventually accepted. An equal mix of names given by Flinders and Baudin for the island’s coastal features were adopted. None of the names suggested by Freycinet are in use today.
Emu Bay: It is not known who named this coastal feature, or why. Early reports indicate there were many emus on Kangaroo Island. By the 1830s they had been wiped out totally by hunters.
Smith Bay: It is not known who named this coastal feature, or why. Originally named Smith’s Bay.
Dashwood Bay: 1857. Named by Capt. Bloomfield Douglas. Recalls Lieut. George Fredrick Dashwood.
Cape Cassini: 16.4.1802. Named by Nicolas Baudin. Recalls a French family of astronomers. Cesar Francois, or Cassini De Thury worked at the Paris observatory, Jacques Dominique (1748-1845), or Count Cassini, also at the Paris observatory.
Cape Forbin: 3.1.1803. Named by Nicolas Baudin. It is only of the few Named of Badin’s for the island’s coastal features that have been retained. It recalls Claude Comte de Forbin (1656-1733). French naval commander, born in Provence, ran away as a boy from his well-to-do home and was helped by an uncle to enter the navy, serving in his first campaign at an age of 19. Especially noteworthy was his experience when he accompanied the Chevalier de Chaumont, sent on a mission by Louis XIV to Siam (Thailand) to introduce there the Christian religion and European civilization.
Stokes Bay: Recalls a Mr Stokes, first mate on the Hartley which arrived at Kangaroo Island in October 1837. He resided on the island for many years. The bay surveyed by Capt Bloomfield Douglas in 1857. The bay was named D’Anville Bay by Nicolas Baudin, 25.4.1802, in honour of Jean-baptiste Bourguignon D’Anville (1697-1782), French cartographer. This name was not used for this locality, but was adopted as the name of a bay on the tip of Eyre Peninsula.
Snug Cove: 1857. Named by Capt. Bloomfield Douglas because of its shape.
Cape Dutton: Named by Capt Bloomfield Douglas. Recalls NF.S.Dutton, Commissioner Of Crown Land. Named Cape D’Estaing by Baudin, 16.4.1802, in honour of Jean-Baptiste Comte D’Estaing (1729-94), French Admiral, born at Ch teau de Ruvel, Auvergne, entered the infantry in 1757 and the Navy in 1763. He obtained the command of the French fleet to assist the United States against Britain in 1778. He remained a royalist after the revolution, but nevertheless was appointed Commandant of the National Garde in 1789. At Marie Antoinette’s trial in 1793, he bore testimony in her favour, a fact which in combination with friendly letters between him and the queen led to his trial and eventual execution on 28.02.1793.
Cape Torrens: 1857. Named by Capt. Bloomfield Douglas. Recalls Robert Torrens (1780-1864). English soldier and economist, born in Ireland, entered the Marines in 1797, became a captain in 1806, and major in 1811 for bravery in Anhalt during the Walcheren expedition. After several attempts, he entered parliament in 1831 for Ashburton. He was a prolific writer, principally on financial and commercial policy. He was a friend of explorer Charles Sturt and founder of the Adelaide newspaper, The Register.
Cape Borda: 16.4.1802. Named by Nicolas Baudin. Recalls Jean Charles de Borda (1733-1799). French mathematician and astronomer, entered the army at age of twenty, devoting his leisure to mathematics. He became a member of the Academy of Sciences in 1723 and a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1728. In 1736, he led the expedition for the measurement of the length of a degree of the meridian to Lapland. On his return, he was elected member of almost all the learned societies of Europe. In 1742, he became Director of the French Academy of Sciences.
Vennacher Point: Named after the Loch Vennachar, 3 masted iron ship,1552 tons, which disappeared in the vicinity in September 1905, never to be seen again. The ketch Annie Watt fished out some of the Loch Vennachar’s cargo from Gulf St Vincent and the steamer Governor Musgrave was sent on two separate occasions to search for the wreck and any survivors. The search was eventually abandoned on October 12th. In November huge amounts of heavy wreckage were discovered at West Bay on the Western tip of Kangaroo Island. The further discovery of a decomposed body on November 26th led to a theory that the ill fated Loch Vennachar had, in dreadful weather, sailed directly into rocks under the cliffs.
West Bay: November 1857. Named by Capt. Bloomfield Douglas. Descriptive of its location.
Cape Bedout: 3.1.1803. Named by Nicolas Baudin. Recalls Jacques Bedout (1751-1818), French rear admiral in Napoleon Bonaparte’s Navy.
Maupertuis Bay: 3.1.1803. Named by Nicolas Baudin. Recalls Pierre Louis Moreau de Maupertuis (1689-1759). French mathematician and astronomer, born at St. Malo, entered the army at age of twenty, devoting his leisure to mathematics. He became a member of the Academy of Sciences in 1723 and a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1728. In 1736, he led the expedition for the measurement of the length of a degree of the meridian to Lapland.
Cape du Couedic: 2.1.1803. Named by Nicolas Baudin. Recalls Charles Louis Chevalier du Couedic de Kerguelen (1740-1780), French navigator who sailed in search of the southland in 1772.
Casuarina Islets: 3.1.1803. Named by Nicolas Baudin after his supply ship, Casuarina. Baudin’s third vessel, it was purchased in Sydney to replace Le Naturaliste.
Kirkpatrick Point: November 1857. Named by Capt. Bloomfield Douglas, After Hon. W Or A.A. Kirkpatrick, Chief Secretary.
Sanderson Bay: 1857. Named by Capt. Bloomfield Douglas. After F.J.Sanderson, South Australian Collector Of Costoms.
Cape Younghusband: November 1857. Named by Capt. Bloomfield Douglas. Recalls William Younghusband, M.P. and merchant. Douglas named the cape when surveying in the Yatala in 1857.
Hanson Bay: November 1857. Named by Capt. Bloomfield Douglas. It recalls Chief Justice Sir R.D.Hanson.
Cape Bouguer: 3.1.1803. Named by Nicolas Baudin. Recalls Pierre Bouguer 1698-1758) French mathematician, born on 16.02. His father was Professor of Hydrography at Croisic in lower Brittany. He succeeded his father in 1713. In 1730, he became Professor of Hydrography at Havre, after having won several prizes of the French Academy of Sciences for research into astronomical measurements. He succeeded Maupertuis as associate geometer of the Academy. He spent ten years on the measurement of a degree of the meridian involving an expedition to Peru, published in 1749.
Cape Kersaint: 3.1.1803. Named by Nicolas Baudin. Recalls Armand Guy Simone Coethempren, Comte de Kersaint (1742-1793). He entered the navy in 1755 and gained the rank of ensign for bravery in action in 1757 while serving on his father’s ship. He sided with the revolution inspite of his high birth. He became a vice-admiral on 01.01.1793 and pursued vigorously ideas for the modernisation of the French Navy. However, he voted against the execution of the king and resigned from the Convention and was subsequently executed himself.
Pt Ellen: November 1857. Named by Capt. Bloomfield Douglas, after his second daughter.
Vivonne Bay: 3.1.1803. Named by Nicolas Baudin. Recalls Louis-Victor de Rochechouart, Duc de Vivonne (1636-1688) Marshal of French forces in Sicily, won an important victory at Messina on 25.03.1676 and became Viceroy of the island.
Nobby Isld: Named by Matthew Flinders. Its shape.
Cape Ganthaeume: 3.1.1803. Named by Nicolas Baudin. Recalls Comte de Gantheaume (1755-1818), French Admiral, succeeded in slipping out of Brest on 13.01.1802 with a squadron of seven ships when a gale had driven the British blockading forces off the coast. He entered the Mediterranean, but never managed to land in Egypt.
Cape Linois: 3.1.1803. Named by Nicolas Baudin. Recalls Charles Durand, Comte De Linois (1761-1848), a naval officer. He served in the American War of Independence. In 1799 he received the rank of Rear-Admiral and between 1803 and 1806 he sank 23 English ships. In 1814 he was made Govenor of Guadeloupe.
Point Tinline: November 1857. Named by Capt. Bloomfield Douglas. Recalls George Tinline, the Mangaer of the Bank of South Australia at the time, who assisted in the framing of the Bullion Act.
D’Estrees Bay: 3.1.1803. Named by Nicolas Baudin. Recalls Louis-Victor de Marie, Marquis De Coeuvres, Duc D’estrees (1660-1737), Marshal of France, Vice Admiral and Minister of State.
Pt Reynolds: November 1857. It is not known who named this coastal feature, or why. It possibly honours :Hon T Reynolds, MP, 1857-73.
Pennington Bay: November 1857. Named by Capt. Bloomfield Douglas after Joseph Pennington who perished near Prospect Hill (or Mount Thisby) while on a trip to American River on the ‘Young Australian’ which left Port Adelaide on 28/12/1855. He was lost in the scrub, his remains were never found.
Mt Thisby: Formerly recorded as Mount Tisby or Prospect Hill. Believed to have been named after a Mr.Thisby or Tisby who had a camp on the hill in 1830, though this has not been verified.
Cape Hart: Named by Capt. Bloomfield Douglas. Recalls Captain John Hart of the schooner Elizabeth. In 1828 he sailed the waters around Australia and reached Hobart. He visited Western Australia in 1829 on the Britannia. Sailed South Australian waters and came to Kangaroo Island in 1831 as Master of the Elizabeth, a schooner owned by John Griffith of Launceston. Between 1831 and 1834 he worked as a whaler and sealer and organised whaling stations around the coast even before South Australia was established in 1836.
Cape Willoughby: 23.3.1802. Named by Matthew Flinders. Recalls Sir Nesbit Josiah Willoughby (1777-1856), an offspring of a long established family of Nottinghamshire, entered the Royal Navy in 1790 and excelled by his unruly conduct which led to his discharge in 1800. He rejoined the navy in 1803 when war broke out with France. He commanded a frigate during its fight against a much stronger French force at Port Louis, Mauritius, just before Matthew Flinders was released from internment. This is probably when Flinders got the idea of using his name.
Cape St Albans: 1850. Named by Thomas Lipson. Recalls St Albans, Herefordshire, England, Lipson’s home town.
Dudley Peninsula: Named after the Earl of Dudley, Australia’s Governor General, 1908-1911. Formerly MacDonnell Peninsula after Governor MacDonnell from 1858 to 1986. Re-named the Dudley Peninsula in 1986. Freycinet named it ‘Presqu’ile de La Galissonniere’ (Galissonniere Peninsula) after Roland Michael Barrin, Comte De La Galissonniere (1693-1756), a distinguished French naval officer. During the years between 1747 and 1756, he served as the administrator of Canada.
Antechamber Bay: 24.3.1803. Named by Matthew Flinders. It was descriptive of its shape and size. One of three features named in the area which refer to entry points to houses. Freycinet named it Baie Duguay-Trouin after Rene Duguay-Trouin (1673-1736), French privateer and naval officer. whose successes against the English and the Dutch in the wars of King Louis XIV caused him to rise rapidly in command.
Eastern Cove: 21.3.1802. Named thus by Matthew Flinders, because of its location on Kangaroo Island.
Pt Morrison: 21.3.1802. Named by Matthew Flinders. Also named Cap des Kangaroos (Cape Kangaroos) by Nicolas Baudin.
Western Cove: 21.3.1802. Named by Matthew Flinders due to its location on Kangaroo Island. Named Anse des Phoques (Seal Cove) by Nicolas Baudin.
Kangaroo Head: 21.3.1802. Named by Matthew Flinders as many kangareos were shot here. Named Cap Delambre by Nicolas Baudin after Jean-Baptiste Delambre, a French astronomer.
Hog Bay: So named because Governor Wallen’s pigs wallowed in the water springs that Flinders discovered here. Baudin called the bay ‘Anse des Sources’ (Cove of Springs). Baudin anchored Geographe at the cove and a party of men landed to search for water. They had to dig a few holes in the cove to get enough water for their daily consumption. One day, while waiting for one of the water casks to fill, one of the French sailors roughly inscribed a message onto a nearby rock. The inscription read: – “Expedition de decouverte par le commandant Baudin sur le Geographe 1803”. The original rock deteriorated so much that it was removed and a replica was put in its place. The rock was returned to the island in 1996 and is now located in the Gateway Information Centre at Penneshaw. The locality at the bay is now called Frenchman’s Rock.
Busby Islet: 21.3.1802. Named by Matthew Flinders. Originally identified by Flinders as bushy island, it appears that a spelling error has resulted in Busby Island being the accepted name. Busby Island is shown on Marine & Harbours Board charts from 1869, but is still shown as Bushy Island on admiralty charts.
Nepean Bay: 21.3.1802. Named by Matthew Flinders. Recalls Sir Evan Nepean, 1st Secretary to the British Admiralty. Named Port Dache by Baudin.
Bay of Shoals: 21.3.1802. Named by Matthew Flinders. Descriptive.
Backstairs Passage: 21.3.1802. Matthew Flinders named Backstairs Passage and Antechamber Bay in the same entry in his journals on the same day, possibly a simile as both Named refer to a house entry point. Nicolas Baudin (or Freycinet) named the strait ‘Detroit de Colbert’ (Colbert Strait), after any one of several famous Frenchmen of that name.
The island was first settled by Aborigines but their history is scant and complex. It seems they left the island over 10,000 years ago for reasons which remain unknown. Kangaroo Island was explored in detail by Matthew Flinders in March 1802, during his survey of the Australian coast in HMS Investigator. Flinders and his crew killed 31 kangaroos, recording in his journal, “half a hundredweight of heads, forequarters and tails were stewed into soup…and as much steaks given….to both officers and men as they could consume by day and by night … In gratitude for so seasonable a supply, I named this southern land Kangaroo Island …” Flinders also named the strait between the island and the mainland declaring “It forms a private entrance, as it were, to the two gulphs; and I named it Backstairs Passage”.
Flinders was travelling west to east, unaware that two French ships belonging to an expedition under Nicolas Baudin, were also surveying the southern coast of Australia at that time, but in the opposite direction. They had a chance encounter in Encounter Bay on the Fleurieu Peninsula on 8th April 1802, exchanged pleasantries over afternoon tea, then continued on their respective journeys. A month after Flinders had explored the island, Baudin did the same, also naming its coastal features as he went. Many names were duplicated – in some instances, triplicated, as Baudin’s second in command, Freycinet, had a habit of recording different names to Baudin – which explains why a mix of names given by Flinders, Baudin and Freycinet remain in use today.
Before the Colony of South Australia was formed, whalers, sealers, kangaroo hunters and escaped convicts frequented Kangaroo Island. A year after Baudin’s visit, a group of American sealers, under command of Captain Pemberton, arrived aboard the brig Union and established themselves at what is now known as American River. For many years the island’s white beaches were stained with the blood of tens of thousands of whales, seals, kangaroos, wallabies and possums. The island’s seals and kangaroos were almost hunted to extinction. During Captain George Sutherland’s short stay on the island in 1819, he recorded that more than 4500 seals and 1500 kangaroos were killed for their skins or meat. As late as the 1950s seals were killed for shark bait. When Colonel William Light arrived on the brig Rapid in August 1836, Dr. John Woodforde recorded in his diary ‘There must have been a great mortality among the kangaroos on this Isle since Flinders time or he must have mistaken the wallaby for them as we have not seen one and the sealers say there are none’.
Kangaroo Island claims to be the first South Australian settlement, as the first colonists stayed there before moving to the more suitable settlement at Glenelg in 1836. Colonel William Light landed near present day Kingscote, but the scarcity of water in this locality caused him to abandon plans to establish a permanent settlement there and moved on to the mainland. Nonetheless, Kangaroo Island caught the eye and interest of the Directors of the South Australian Company, a private enterprise established to bring out migrants from Europe and settle them in farming communities in South Australia. In 1836, George Fife Angas, the founder and chairman of the South Australian Company learnt of the plight of Lutherans in the Eastern Provinces of Prussia who were being persecuted by the King of Prussia, Friedrich Wilhelm III.
Angas persuaded their pastor, August Ludwig Christian Kavel, to bring them to South Australia and assisted them with an £8,000 grant. The first of them arrived in 1836 and settled at Kingscote on Kangaroo Island. The settlement was named after Henry Kingscote, a director of the South Australian Company. It has the distinction of being the first town in South Australia. The first school in South Australia was established at Kingscote by Captain Bromley who lived on the island until May 1839. During this time he instructed some twenty children under a tree until he had built a hut for them. Few of the Germans stayed for any length of time and the settlement, which was officially declared an official port to curb smuggling, remained the home of riffraff, runaway convicts and deserters from ships.
Over the years, attempts have been made to establish various industries on the island with limited success. These include salt mining, cattle grazing, eucalyptus oil production and gypsum mining. The island’s isolation and poor quality of soils have ensured that Kangaroo Island has remained relatively underdeveloped. Consequently, even today, the island’s population is less that 5,000 and its economy is driven by tourism.
“History of Kangaroo Island text: South Australian History