The Colourful History of Kangaroo Island


Kangaroo Island is Australia’s third-largest island, after Tasmania and Melville Island. It lies off the coast of South Australia 112 km (70 mi) southwest of Adelaide. Its closest point to the mainland is Snapper Point in “Backstairs passage” which is 13.5 km (8.4 mi) from the Fleurieu Peninsula.

Kangaroo Island was discovered by English explorer Matthew Flinders. He mapped much of the coast whilst on his famous voyage to chart Terra Australis in 1802. Flinders got there just before French Commander Nicholas Baudin and it was Flinders who named the Island after the large number of native Kangaroos that they saw on landing.

Between 1803 and the first official settlement in 1836, sealers and whalers arrived early and traded thousands of seal skins and tonnes of salt. Some settlers were a lawless lot who raided mainland settlements kidnapping Aboriginal women and bartering skins and salt for liquor and tobacco. Eventually action had to be taken, and in 1827 a ship was sent from Sydney in NSW. Police rounded up a large group of these people and took them back to the east, returning Aboriginal ‘wives’ and their children and dogs to the mainland.

The barque, Duke of York, arrived at Reeves Point in Nepean Bay on 27th July 1836. The dense scrub, limited water and poor soil made farming and gardening difficult. Many settlers became ill and died. Pioneer life was very different from their expectations, but many people persevered, turning Kangaroo Island into a thriving farming community, yet preserving the natural beauty of much of the land. Kingscote became the first capital of South Australia until Colonel light shifted that settlement to Holdfast Bay.

Today, Kangaroo Island has a resident population of approximately 4,700 people with the majority of those living in and around the main township of Kingscote.


Lots to see and do

Emu Bay Lavender

Kangaroo Island is amazing. It has retained its natural elements giving visitors a unique look at its wildlife, native flora, unique geographical beauty and historical landmarks. Add to this all our cottage industries, food and wine outlets etc. you can easily fill in a 4-5 day visit, and that’s without spending time relaxing on a beach, swimming with dolphins, quad biking, fishing, hiking or just taking time out to rest.

I would therefore recommend to those seeking to travel here, to spend at least 3 nights in order to take in the main highlights and up to a week or more if you want to take time out for other activities.

Kangaroo Island has no traffic lights, roundabouts or fast food outlets; and no rabbits or foxes. It is home of the only pure strain of Ligurian bee and pest free potato crops, therefore it is illegal to bring any of these animals and products on to the Island.

You will find the Island a welcoming, quiet, interesting and enjoyable destination.