Flinders Chase and Natural Resources

Flinders chase and early south coast settlers

Geoff Chapman has submitted his research, found in a .pdf file here.

Dene Cordes interview with Jim Tiggerman 16 Feb 1985.

See Ornithology

See Botany

See Bees

See also Other Natural Resources

See also Kangaroo Island – home of Tassie tigers, devils and megafauna

See also Kangaroo Island Emus

Photo courtesy State Library SA, B-49801.  c.1950. Group at Flinders Chase National Park & members of a Fauna Committee.

Flinders Chase.

Recently I had a chat with Jim Gosse, a member of the Flora and Fauna Board, who recently visited Flinders Chase on Kangaroo Island in company with Sir Wallace Bruce and Mr. F. A. Wood, both of whom promised that they would become regular subscribers to the Chase. Jim Gosse said:— 'Hansen, the curator, met us on arrival and showed us round the enclosure. He has put up a very substantial fence since I was last there, enclosing an area of about 250 acres, in which he has a good supply of birds and animals. We motored down to the big pools in the river but saw no sign of the platypi, which Mrs. Hansen assured me she had seen on more than one occasion. Within the enclosure we saw a number of Kangaroo Island kangaroos, Cape Barren geese, plover, curlews, galahs, and red crested black cockatoos, which were laying in the hollow tree near the homestead. Hansen also advised that there were quite a number of yellow crested black cockatoos about, also kingfishers, blue-capped wrens, emu wrens, and that in a swamp not far away ducks and swans were breeding freely. What Hansen would like particularly to get are some native companions, and a couple of red doe kangaroos. The mallee hens seem to be doing quite well, one colony near Cape Borda and another near Cape de Coudie. We want funds to keep the Chase going, and it Is the most deserving thing I know In connection with natural history.'

- Out Among the People. Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1895 - 1954), Thursday 13 April 1933, page 66


From "S. A. White," "S. Dixon," and "J. M. Black," members of the Flinders Chase committee: Referring to the report of the meeting held at Kingscote on October 19 [1918], it is evident that the residents of Kangaroo Island do not appreciate the great benefits which the Flinders Chase scheme would be to him personally. It means, firstly, if a forestry scheme were carried out in time an increase in employment, and there would also be a large increase in the number of visitors, to say nothing of the summer settlers who would be induced to go there under our original scheme. In the report of the Kingscote meeting, which, by the way, does not mention how many persons were present, it is mentioned that "one speaker, with more than 50 years' experience there stated there were at present hundreds of thousands of animals on the island, and that they were increasing rather than decreasing." To people who have known the island for years, and who have recently visited it, this statement appears incredible. We accept the suggestion that a grubbed road would act as an excellent fire-break. It was further stated at the meeting that all protection should be taken off animals outside the reserve, thus giving the settlers the right to destroy those which came on their property. This is what we have aimed at all along, and is the reason why we have made a vermin-proof fence one of our principal objects. It was also stated at the meeting that "a heavy penalty imposed on anyone found destroying animals inside would deter trappers and others from going there." The experience of the last 30 years has proved this to be futile. The illegal destruction of kangaroos went on for years, and is still going on with opossums; the difficulty is to get convictions against offenders. We believe there has never been a successful prosecution. It was further alleged at the meeting that "it would soon be necessary to allow trappers inside the reserve is to prevent over-stocking." When the animals in the Chase prove to have become too numerous, trappers, under proper supervision, would be allowed to ply their trade inside the fence. The Kingscote meeting admitted that the mallee fowl which was liberated on the island some time ago has now ceased to exist This is proof positive of the necessity for the reserve being granted to a responsible body, as at present no one but legal control over it.

Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1931), Thursday 31 October 1918, page 6


A number of by-laws concerning the management and control of Flinders Chase (the Kangaroo island reserve set apart by the Flora and Fauna Board for native plants and animals) received the approval of the State Governor (Sir Tom Bridges) in the Executive Council on Wednesday. The by-laws provide that no person shall, without first obtaining a licence from the board in writing, enter the Chase or remove, cut, or deface the rocks, trees, or plants therein, or in any way interfere with the property of the board. Camping within the boundaries of the reserve is also prohibited.

FLINDERS CHASE. (1923, January 11). Daily Herald (Adelaide, SA : 1910 - 1924), p. 2. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article106725528 
Professor Wood Jones releasing the first Koalas introduced to Kangaroo Island. SLSA [B 49820] 1923.
 Professor Wood Jones releasing the first Koalas introduced to Kangaroo Island.SLSA [B 49817] 1923


(From The South Australian, 8/10/25).

Many people it must be admitted, acquiesed in the preserving of Flinders Chase as a Fauna and Flora Reserve with good natural tolerance, looking upon it a good deal as a a fad of scientists who are merely desirous of preventing the extinction of native animals. The plans in regard to Flinders Chase, however, are designed to make the western end of Kangaroo Island one of the most productive and valuable parts of the State. 

Flinders Chase, embracing about 200 square miles of the western end of Kangaroo Island, was established as a Fauna and Flora Reserve by Act of Parliament in 1919, in the face of a good deal of opposition from persons who objected to the setting aside of a large area of country simply for the running of native animals and the growth of native flora. Few people realised that this reserve might, is time, become very valuable to South Australia commercially. Recently, however, the Fauna and Flora Board, which controls Flinders Chase has initiated a policy of commercial development which promises to provide South Australia in the next half century with a fur industry ranking in importance with the other primary industries of the State. 

Under the administration of the Board the Rocky River estate and homestead have been added to the reserve, and this has permitted of the engagement of a resident ranger, an islander, who, with his wife lives at the homestead. [Harald Hansen (1888-1964) and Violet nee Hindmarsh 1893-1959) ].

The Board has entered upon a deliberate policy of introducing native animals that are in danger of extermination at well as of looking after the animals already living on Flinders Chase. Black Tasmanian opossums are being introduced with a view to improving the opposum furs. An area of 14 acres has been fenced in and here the animals are kept until they are acclimatised. Already native bears from Victoria have been placed out on the Chase, and three pairs of rat kangaroos (a species nearly extinct) have been liberated. 

The Board is looking for an early development in the fur trade. A great need is to improve the quality of the fur bearing animals, and the methods of killing, skinning and marketing. In this regard other countries of the world can teach South Australia much and Professor Wood Jones (Professor of Anatomy at the University of Adelaide) is taking up this matter very enthusiastically. Chatting with a representative of ' The South Australian' yesterday, he mentioned that prices obtained in oversea markets for S.A. pelts compared very unfavorably with the prices at which American and other furs were sold. The South Australians did not kill or skin animals in the proper way, mostly the animals which were trapped worried themselves to death in the snare, and he proposed to find out how killing, skinning, and preparing for markets were done at the American fur farms. When these things were perfected there should be big prospects for Flinders Chase in the matter of fur production. 

He added that there were many good-sized rivers on the Chase with water holes in which there was permanent water, and the Board hoped one day to introduce a duck-billed platypus, of which rare animal there were still a number in Tasmania. The Rocky River, when it flowed, was a very fine stream, and there was an abundance of feed all over the Chase. 

There are no rabbits, the pests with which the Board had to deal being cats and pigs that had gone wild, and goats. The pigs were very numerous and exceptionally wild, but not fierce. The native animals, which were natural to the island, were opposums, kangaroos, wallabies, bandicoots and native porcupines. He had found bones of the native cat, a valuable fur animal, but that was extinct on the island, and it was doubtful whether the Board would introduce it again lest settlers on the eastern end should object. 

" I have a great idea of the Chase," remarked Professor Wood Jones, '' and I think that in 50 years' time it will be a fauna reserve and, in addition, a valuable fur-producing place. Our next aim is to secure the Casuarina Islands, because there the last of the fur seals of South Australia are breeding. Then is quite a little colony on the islands nearest to the mainland. These islands are contiguous to Flinders Chase, and are overlooked by Cape DeCoudie light house. The lighthouse is connected with the Flinders Chase homestead by telephone, and the lightkeeper could watch the island for raiders. The islands are bare rocks of no use for anything, but the purpose which the Board propose to put them. They are not even easy to land upon. They are already a sanctuary and no one is allowed upon them, but they are not under the control of the Board. I believe, however, they have not been raided since they became a sanctuary, although they were shortly before being reserved. In the early days more than 50 fur seals were taken from one small cove. Each bull has about 50 cows, and the seals increase very quickly. It is scarcely necessary for me to point out how valuable to South Australia might the fur seal industry become if it can be established on those islands.

" There used to be an immense fur industry on Kangaroo Island in the old days. I have a record of a man (John Hart) who went sealing there in 1831. There was trade in seal skins with Kangaroo Island as long ago as 1813, 23 years before the Proclamation of South Australia as a province. The hunters in those days were runaway sealers from Tasmania, who brought native wives to the is lands with them. They were there for some years before 1813, for in 1804 a ship called the ' Union,' under Captain Pendleton, called at Kangaroo Island and brought away from these people 1,400 seal skins. Some of the families of the early sealers are still on the Island." 

Flinders Chase is not fenced, that is the Board's outstanding difficulty. Until last year the Board did not know what the boundary was. It has now been surveyed and a line has been cut through the thick scrub from north to south, 23 miles across Kangaroo Island as the crow flies. Unfortunately the boundary runs over rough country which could not be fenced, but the Board is hopeful of being able to arrange with the Federal Government and the Kingscote District Council to have a road made on the eastern boundary which would enable a fence to be put up. The Board has recently turned out pinioned Cape Barren geese, and propose to do the same with ducks in the hope that these birds will attract wild geese and ducks to the many waters on the Chase. It is proposed, also, to place emus there. There are none there at present, although Capt. Flinders found large numbers of them, they ware killed out soon after the visit of the famous navigator.

THE FUR INDUSTRY. (1925, November 28). The Kangaroo Island Courier (Kingscote, SA : 1907 - 1951), p. 2. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article191552589 
The Chairman of Flinders Chase National Park Mr. H. Hansen, arriving at Kingscote for a week long visit January 25 to 1 February 1942.SLSA [B 49830]

Chris Baxter (1953-2017)

On Monday July 31, Kangaroo Island lost a respected and much loved naturalist and long term member of Eco-Action Kangaroo Island. See Islander newspaper article.

See story about platypuses being audited on Kangaroo Island after the disastrous fires in 2019-20.

Natural History of Kangaroo Island 2nd ed. July 2002. Editors: M. Davies, C. R. Twidale & M. J. Tyler Royal Society of South Australia (Inc.)