Kangaroo Island Visitor Guide : 2016-2017 Kangaroo Island Visitor Guide
tourkangarooisland.com.au | a wild island with wild stories 26 A wild island with WILD STORIES Aboriginal inhabitation The first European explorers found Kangaroo Island to be uninhabited, as evidenced by the lack of campfires and tameness of the wildlife. Since the 1930s, Aboriginal campsites have been discovered in a number of areas around Kangaroo Island, including one near the seal colonies of Cape du Couedic. Today, it’s believed Aboriginal people were living on the Island at least as long as 16,000 years ago (before Kangaroo Island was separated from the mainland by rising sea levels) and as recently as 2000 years ago. Why the Aboriginal people abandoned Kangaroo Island (and how they left) remains a mystery. Intriguingly, mainland Indigenous people called it ‘Karta’ or ‘Land of the Dead’. Modern exploration In 1800, the British Government commissioned Captain Matthew Flinders to explore and map the southern coastline of ‘Terra Australis’ in the HMS Investigator. Flinders made the first recorded European sighting of the Island in March 1802. He came ashore on the north coast and named it Kangaroo Island — grateful for the number of Kangaroo Island is steeped in history dating back to 1802 when it was first sighted by European explorer, Captain Matthew Flinders. roaming kangaroos, which was the first time his ravenous crew had found fresh food in months. On the afternoon of 8 April 1802, as the Investigator tracked towards the mainland, a sail appeared on the horizon. It was a French corvette, Le Geographe, under the command of Nicolas Baudin. Despite Britain and France being at war at the time, both parties soon realised that neither had hostile intentions. Information was exchanged about their explorations, with Flinders advising Baudin of the large Island nearby offering the opportunity to replenish supplies with fresh meat and water. Baudin returned to the Island in the summer of 1802–1803, mapping much of the rugged south and west coastlines. Many of the features along this part of the coastline carry French names as a consequence of this visit. Early European settlement The first non-Aboriginal people to live on Kangaroo Island were sealers, escaped convicts and runaway sailors who sought refuge here in the early 1800s. They led a self-sufficient, lawless existence, eating the local wildlife and trading salt and skins for spirits and tobacco. Australia’s first free European settlement The South Australian Company was established by an Act of Parliament in Britain in 1834, with a charter to establish the first colony somewhere along the coast between the Great Australian Bight and Port Phillip Bay, Victoria. By 1836, the company had acquired a fleet of ships and chose Kangaroo Island to start Australia’s first free European-settled colony. On 27 July 1836, the barque Duke of York anchored in Nepean Bay and began the first formal settlement in South Australia, at the place now known as Reeves Point. Several other ships soon joined the Duke of York. Challenged by a shortage of water and building timber, the formal settlement was to last less than four years. At its peak, some 300 people lived there and 42 dwellings and other buildings were constructed. Some persistent individuals stayed on and formed the basis of a community that prided itself on a strong sense of independence.