A Wild Island with Wild Stories
Islands across the world have more than one thing in common. They share a frontier bound by water and a history and culture of ingenuity, borne out of their inherent isolation.
Kangaroo Island's history is no different; it is full of interesting and compelling stories. Be sure to travel through time at one of the many museums and history - inspired attractions dotted across the Island.
Old Wisanger School
Location: Governor Wallen Scenic Drive, Kingscote.
Opening Hours: Open access.
Reeves Point is the site of the first official European settlement in South Australia. The historic site features walking paths and interpretive signs that explain the significance of features such as the old mulberry tree, the first well, the old jetty and quarry sites, the German row, the landing site, the bullock track and the old post office.
The Reeves Point area has been carefully revegetated with local species and the Pioneer Cemetery under the graceful Casuarina trees is especially evocative. Flagstaff Hill offers spectacular views of Bay of Shoals and beyond. The flagpole features a crows nest and flag bearing mast, rising from handcrafted stonemasonry representing the first settlers' ships. Kingscote school children made the engraved pavers around the site. Up to 50 species of birds can be viewed from the bird hide including several Cormorants, Australian Pelicans, Sacred Ibis, Black Swans, White-faced Herons, Musk Ducks, Chestnut Teal, Oyster Catches and several species of migratory waders over summer.
Reeves Point is an ideal place for a picnic with shelter sheds, gas barbecue, tables, seats, playground and toilets in a secluded setting.
Hope Cottage Folk Museum
Location: Centenary Street, Kingscote
Opening Hours: 1pm-4pm daily September-July (extended in January 10am-4pm)
Telephone:(08) 8553 3017 or (08) 8553 2667 or (08) 8553 3141
Established and operated by the National Trust, this is one of the Island's most historic homes. The pioneering Calnan brothers built it in the 1850s with the proceeds from a gold-mining expedition to Victoria. Buildings surround the museum, with exhibits depicting the pioneering history of Kangaroo Island. Some of these are just as they have been rescued; others have been fully restored.
The exhibition is very generous with many interesting articles on display. A feature of the working exhibits is the reconstructed light from the Cape Willoughby Lighthouse, and a re-created Masonic Lodge room. For a trip down memory lane view the 1950's-style garage and office.
Emu Ridge Eucalyptus Distillery
During the 1930s there were 48 eucalyptus stills in operation employing over 600 people on Kangaroo Island. Today, Emu Ridge is the only commercial eucalyptus oil distillery in operation in South Australia. The technology of this operation may surprise you! The rustic outlook hides some clever bush technology and processes which are simple yet effective. Emu Ridge is self-sufficient with solar and wind power. An extensive range of local art and crafts are also available from the gift shop and Rookery Wines have their cellar door on site with tastings available. Free entry, tour fee applies.
Location: At the east end of Penneshaw Beach.
Opening Hours: Open access.
In 1803 Captain Nicolas Baudin, the French explorer, anchored in Hog Bay and sent a party ashore to find fresh meat and water. While waiting for the water casks to fill, one of the sailors carved on a nearby rock, 'Expedition de decouverte par le commandant Baudin sur le Geographe 1803'. Translated it reads, 'Expedition of discovery by Captain Baudin in the Geographe 1803'. To protect it from erosion, the original stone is now housed at the Gateway Visitor Information Centre on Howard Drive, Penneshaw.
Parndana Soldier Settlement Museum
The museum tells the stories of the early years of Soldier Settlement on Kangaroo Island. This fascinating collection gives an insight into the early 1950's and the challenges and triumphs of turning thick native scrub into productive farming land. Be transported to a time before electricity when logging, chaining and dozing were part of everyday life. Enjoy tall tales, anecdotes and recollections from the settlers and learn how having a sense of humour was an essential part of survival during this tough but important period in KI history. The museum features a great collection of the machinery used in the 50's and 60's as well of extensive photo albums and historical records to research family connections.
Penneshaw Maritime and Folk Museum
Formerly the Penneshaw (Hog Bay) School, the museum is opposite the current Penneshaw School. In addition to a fine collection of items relating to the history of the Dudley district, a special nautical section highlights the shipping history of the Island. Fee applies
Old Wisanger School
Location: North Coast Road, Wisanger
Opening hours: Open access
Telephone: (08) 8553 5215 Enter a different era of education. Inspect the books and facilities of another century. Established as a school, community-meeting place and church in the 1880's, the school closed in 1945 but has been restored. The rules for use of the building and conduct of teachers make fascinating reading. Donation appreciated.