Kangaroo Island History
Kangaroo Island was discovered by the brilliant 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. They easily clubbed a large number of kangaroos as fresh meat, then salted some away for the journey.
There is a colourful history of the years 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, the Duke of York, arrived at Reeves Point in Nepean Bay on July 27th 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, farming, fishing, agriculture and tourism are thriving industries and Kangaroo Island has some of the most stunning and unspoilt coast, and well presented National Parks and Conservation Parks in Australia
There are many old buildings, light houses, museums, memorials and relics which portray the rich history of Kangaroo Island. Sunken ships can be spotted on diving expeditions testifying to the dangerous waters and the risks taken to settle Australia.