Kangaroo Island Pioneers Association

Kangaroo Island Pioneers Association (KIPA)

determining, preserving and promoting Kangaroo Island’s rich pioneer history

This is a "New" Google Site, transitioned from our old "Classic" Google Site and is very much under development. Please bear with us! Feedback welcome.

KIPA was established in 1983 and aims to promote Kangaroo Island's magnificent pioneering history today.

We very much welcome your interest. Perhaps you'd like to become a member?

Enjoy exploring the historic Kangaroo Island, and enjoy exploring this site!

Kingscote Pioneers Cemetery

Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) Survey Results

At the AGM of Kangaroo Island Pioneers Association in February 2020, Dr Ian Moffat, Senior Research Fellow in Archaeological Science from Flinders University made a presentation of his findings to the Kangaroo Island Pioneers Association.

He confidently reported that he has discovered 47 unmarked graves.

This is a significant finding. For many years there was much speculation as to how many people were buried in South Australia’s first cemetery. It would now seem that along with the known graves, there are at least 70 people buried there between 1836 and 1889 when the new cemetery was established.

The survey was carried out on a cold wet day, and a small muddy corner of the cemetery could not be mapped. Dr Moffatt said that he doubts whether this would alter the total.

However he suggests that there could be more if there were multiple burials in the same plot, which was a common practice. He also said that infants who would have been buried in small graves would not be picked up in the survey.

“What is interesting is the general alignment of the graves, with clear pathways, which indicates an ordered management of the cemetery”, said Anthea Taylor who was present when the survey was undertaken in May 2019, “although it was not very well managed in its last years.”

“The last burial in the old cemetery was May 1881, the same year that the new cemetery was surveyed. The Pioneer Cemetery land was transferred from the SA Company to the Crown in 1883 and in 1889 the current Cemetery Reserve was dedicated and placed under control of the District Council of Kingscote."

“The reason for the large number of unmarked graves in the old cemetery is probably that memorial headstones would have been a rarity at that time on the island, and that most of the graves would have been marked by cairns of stones, or wooden crosses.”

In reply to being asked whether graves might have been found outside the existing fence, Dr Moffat stated “Most unmarked graves are on the eastern portion of the site inside the fence. No unmarked graves are in the south-west quadrant or outside of the fence on the east side”.

The Kangaroo Island Pioneers Association now plan to erect an explanatory sign at the entrance to the historic cemetery, to incorporate the GPR map, and a list of people who died at about that time and who are possibly buried there.

Bushfires on Kangaroo Island

Members of KIPA extend their concern and best wishes to all those who have been adversely affected by the continuing bushfires. The loss of life, loss of property, crops and stock, and impact on wildlife is truly distressing.

One aspect that concerns our Association, is the impact the fires have had on historical structures, grave sites, memorials, historical signs, etc. If you have anything to report, please send an email to secretary@kipioneers.org

Come and Visit

"Book 'Em Out" and "Bring an Empty Esky" campaigns encourage people to book a holiday on Kangaroo Island as soon as possible. Remember, much of the Island physically remains unaffected, but shops, businesses and tourist attractions urgently need people to visit the Island.

Bushfire donations

Please donate directly to the KI Mayor Bushfire Fund (tax-deductable) to directly help the people on Kangaroo Island so badly affected.

This jetty stretches out over the tranquil water of Emu Bay with the sand dunes of the far coast seen in the distance. In the foreground there are a pair of wrought iron gates.

[On back of photograph] 'Emu Bay Jetty, Kangaroo Island / Presented by proprietors of News and Mail'. c.1936. State Library S.A. B-9510

See our new section on this website "Jetties".

Grant received from History Trust of SA for the mapping of the Pioneer Historical Cemetery

The Kangaroo Island Pioneers Association is pleased to announce that it has received a grant to undertake ground penetrating radar (GPR) mapping of the Pioneer Historical Cemetery (Reeves Point) in 2019. The project will be run in conjunction with Flinders University, led by Dr Ian Moffat, Research Fellow in Archaeological Science. Dr Moffat is currently at Cambridge University in the UK.

With the advent of new GPR technology, the Association now believes it may be possible to map the physical extent of the cemetery and also confirm the number of graves used from 1836 until the commencement of the new Kingscote Cemetery. All the graves, markers and plaques will remain undisturbed by this process.

The Association believes that this project will add to a greater understanding of the early history of South Australia and its first cemetery.

See The Islander article with three images.

See Video of the mapping

Frenchman's Rock, Penneshaw, K.I.


A lot of people pitched in to make this possible:

Funds for this project came from Australian National Maritime Museum. (Thanks to Sharon Babbage who was our contact there).The sign itself was manufactured by Engraving Services Co of Woodville South. (Thanks to Jessica Geale for her patience).The design and specification of the sign frame was by Magryn Consultant Engineers of Somerton Park. (Thanks to Will Souter for his expertise).|The construction of the sign frame was by S.A. Stainless Pty Ltd of Port Adelaide. (Thanks to Matt Holland for his personal interest and ability).|The installation was by Kangaroo Island Council. (Thanks to CEO George Georgopoulos and the Penneshaw depot staff).

Frenchman's Rock interpretive sign

We are pleased to announce the erection of a new sign at Frenchmans Rock following the receipt of a $4,000 grant from the Maritime Museums of Australia Project Support Scheme. This grant is being used to replace the large interpretive sign at the State Heritage listed ‘Frenchman’s Rock’ site. The old sign was badly degraded. The new sign is a 3mm thick marine-grade stainless steel sign mounted on a polished stainless steel frame, similar in size and shape to the original. It should stand up to the elements far better than the original, with an expected life well in excess of 20 years. Click here for the wording of the sign.

Kingscote Pioneers Cemetery

The Kingscote Pioneers Cemetery was neglected as early as 1848 after most settlers had moved to the mainland.

" ... we landed on Kangaroo Island — the most important of the group, and almost the only one which I had never visited. Kingscote is prettily situated, yet the first impression on entering it is of a painful nature. Old buildings in ruin are sometimes sublime — often interesting — never disagreeable objects. They have bowed to the ordinary influences of time, and the most painful feeling they can excite is pensiveness, or a reflective melancholy. But new buildings falling into decay do violence to the ordinary operations of nature and time, and are therefore repulsive to the beholder. Many neat cottages are still standing, though unoccupied; and some good stone houses, defaced by premature dilapidations, show that the town was once inhabited by civilized beings. The chief mansion of the almost deserted settlement we did not behold, for the materials had just been removed from the island for use elsewhere. Five families constitute the town population. Twenty-five white people and two black lubras are all that the island can at present render to the South Australian census. A few browsing goats do their utmost to alleviate the dreariness of the scene. The graveyard—if a patch of earth without a fence may be so denominated— becomes unduly pathetic in the solitude. It contains from thirty to forty graves. Most of these are quite undistinguished— and why should they he otherwise ? Others have wooden slabs with painted inscriptions still clinging to their proper localities, but with a very frail clutch. Others, again, of these wooden immortalities, are transferred from grave to grave by browsing cattle, listless mortals, strong winds, or any other accident, as if death were verily laughing at our puny efforts to withstand oblivion."
PORT LINCOLN AND KANGAROO ISLAND. (1848, May 24). South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), p. 3. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article48728812
Families now including the descendants of : KLEEMANN, Friedrich Wilhelm (1798-1884); LINNETT, John (1855-1932), father of John Archibald LINNETT of American River; BRECKNELL, Henry Emanuel (c. 1829-1883); KOPP, John Jacob Got (1844-1924) Light keeper, Cape Borda; NOSKE, Carl (1835-1911); STRAWBRIDGE, William Smerdon (1817-1869); ADAMS, William (1843-1927) and BATES, Martha Ann (1873-1929); ANDERSON, John Bernard (1839-1901) and REICHTER, Matilda Elizabeth (1849-1917); ELSEGOOD, Frederick Charles (1879-1943) and BLYTHMAN, Olive Mabel (1889-1964); SHERIDAN, John (c.1848-1940) and HOUGHTON, Ellen (c.1856-1925)

Articles recently added

a reporter's account in 1883, when selectors were showing a lot of interest in the few remaining sections in Menzies and Dudley.

Fourteen caricatures of Islanders in 1913

The latest news articles from the press


from members - their own research and articles.

The Ivy Barratt Story
Unedited version of the story published in the KIPA News Nos. 81 and 82.

of Kangaroo Island - update by Chris Ward

a new section. Check out the early days of the Kingscote Rifle Club, the Brass Band, Basketball, the Kingscote Literacy and Debating Society and more.

who arrived on the John Renwick in 1837

Smallpox, Typhoid

Two accounts by expeditionists of the party consisting of Hon. T. Playford, Commissioner of Crown Lands; Mr. G. W Goyder, Surveyor-General, et al. Some flowery language, but nonetheless fascinating reading, providing an insight to K.I. when there were but 250 souls.

by a journalist/ artist from Illustrated Sydney News

pay KI a visit 1888, a scurrilous account by a reporter accompanying public servants visiting K.I. He paints an unflattering picture of complaining farmers and their struggles on "primitive" K.I. George Bates is described as a "better preserved fossil "existing "in a half-mummified condition". Almost the whole article is contemptuous and arrogant, but he does praise Mr. John Buick's orchard and his wife - "a comely old dame, who bore Nature's own impress of high-class womanliness."

focussing on the activities and achievements of the people and farms of Kangaroo Island in 1908 (15 articles )

a chronology - by Geoffrey Chapman

showing elected officers for Kingscote and Dudley councils over the years.