1865. We are informed that a discovery of a bituminous fluid resembling petroleum has been made at Kangaroo Island. Mineral claims have, we understand, been taken out, and a Company will shortly be formed to test the value of the discovery. A condensed sample of the mineral has been analyzed, and it is found to contain a large proportion of petroleum.

SIR JAMES HURTLE FISHER. (1865, December 5). South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), p. 2. Retrieved August 6, 2019, from 


1866. Some 18 or 20 years ago Mr. Tolmer, in the exercise of his functions as chief officer of police, went to Kangaroo Island in search of certain bushrangers. On a beach at the south side of the island he observed numerous fragments of a substance resembling pitch. A native woman, who accompanied the party as a guide, told them there was plenty of the same substance among the rocks, and Mr. Tolmer subsequently learned that Mr. F. Potts, Mr. Walker, Mr. N. Thomas, and others had been in the habit of using the mineral in lieu of imported pitch in paying the seams of the vessels and boats built and repaired by them on the island. Some months ago Mr. Tolmer was forcibly struck with the resemblance between the natural pitch of his island remembrances and the New South Wales mineral recently exhibited at the Adelaide Exchange. The consequence was another and protracted visit to Kangaroo Island, during a leave of absence from official duties. Mr. N. Thomas, a settler in the island who is associated in the adventure, became Mr. Tolmer's guide, and accompanied him to the spot where the petroleum exudes from fissures in the rock. A claim has been lodged on behalf of the associated discoverers. It may be mentioned that during the recent explorations a discovery was made of an extinct volcano, from which some specimens have been brought, and will be placed in the hands of the Curator of the Museum.

(1866, January 25). South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), p. 2. 

1912  The Commonwealth Defence Department intends to have tests made of petroleum shale said to exist over a large area of the interior of Kangaroo Island, South Australia.  

NEWS OF THE WEEK. (1912, August 1). The Worker (Wagga, NSW : 1892 - 1913), p. 25.  

1912  Despite the adverse report of the Government Geologist, the Kangaroo Island (S.A.) Oil Exploration Syndicate has made up its mind to have another try. The syndicate's expert, Dr. Basedow, has exhibited the results of several experiments, "which indicate that oil may be discovered on the island." Of course it may. The lost ten tribes of Israel may also be discovered there.

THE CRITIC (1912, September 29). Truth (Sydney, NSW : 1894 - 1954), p. 1. Retrieved August 6, 2019, from 

1913  See Ephraim Bates's challenge to the late Government Geologist (Mr Brown) and his successor Mr. Ward.

PETROLEUM (1913, October 28). Daily Herald (Adelaide, SA : 1910 - 1924), p. 5. 
See THE STANDARD OIL TRUST. (1913, January 11). The Kangaroo Island Courier (Kingscote, SA : 1907 - 1951), p. 6. 



When it became known that Mr K. R. Moure, the well-known petroleum geologist and oil-well operator, was to visit the Island and conduct an examination of the re ported petroliferous areas existing here, general satisfaction was expressed, and it is hoped that the much debated question as to whether the Island is to become a wealthy oil-producing centre or not will be definitely settled. In the course of an interview with Mr Moure bearing on this subject the expert stated that so far his examination had been distinctly favorable, and as a result a boring plant would, in all probability, be in operation on K.I. in March. Mr Moure stated in referring to his previous visit here 12 years ago, that he advised boring near Pennington Bay at that time, and was surprised to find that since then nothing had been done to prove or disprove the opinion he then ex pressed. He also greatly marvels at the apathy of Kingscote residents on not insisting upon the Government bore at Kingscote being carried to a greater depth when it was discontinued in, a brine-producing zone. This bore discovered a tertiary deposit over 1000 feet in depth and passed through limestone, sandstone, clays and 12 different shales, striking the brine supply at 1,049 feet. At 1,095 feet the bore was discontinued upon a formation described as 'hard blue slate', being met with, and Mr Moure's opinion, as an experienced oil-borer, is that this is just where operations should have been vigorous ly proceeded with. 'But,' he said, it is too late now for the Kingscote people to wake up, as arrangements have been made for other people to handle it. Mr Moure, accompanied by Mr A, R. Campbell, has made a searching examination of 50 square miles of country mostly in the Hundred of Haines, traversing that area in all directions from Point Tinline to Pennington Bay and the Salt Lake, and from American River to Nepean Bay. He also paid a flying visit to the Murray's Lagoon country. The petroliferous indications will be fully dealt with in Mr Moore's report to his London principals. The area presents geological features resembling in a great many respects those met with in oilfields in other countries, but the nature of the superficial tertiary mantle covering the older rooks can only be precisely determined by the modern up-to-date oil-boring 'rig' which it is hoped will soon be at work. Mr Moure draws attention to the fact that bores do not always meet with immediate success even in know oil-fields, and in the State of California the pioneer oil finders bored for 21 years before they struck the flow of wealth so that a series of bores is absolutely essential. In reference to operations on Eyre's Peninsula Mr Moore explained that a boring 'rig' costing £1,000 has been constructed by Messes, J. H. Horwood & Sons, and on his return to the city will be shipped to Eyre's Peninsula and boring operations commenced on sites selected by him. This work will be carried on by an Adelaide company and Mr Moore states there is every indication of success. Mr Moure mentions that the Eyre's Peninsula residents are enthusiastic and supplied him with all the local information possible, thus materially assisting him in his examination, and this is in marked contrast to the attitude of Islanders. Since the subject of petroleum was first mooted on K.I. several residents have come for-ward with reports of knowledge of sure indications— some have seen petroleum oozing from rocks, others say they know of the existence of bitumen springs, and mud volcanoes — but except in a couple of instances one feels inclined to doubt the correctness of these reports when the people do not come forward and offer to conduct geologists and others interested to the locality of their respective finds, knowing as they must do that if petroleum is discovered here the future of the Island and all upon it is assured. ' The people here,' said Mr Moure ' have excellent opportunities in front of them, but the fact of the matter Is they are asleep. Settlement took place 78 years ago and you are very little further advanced yet. You need galvanising. You have one of the best summer resorts in the world, but what are you doing to improve or advertise it ? Absolutely nothing ! One hears-of the advancement made during the past few years but since I was here 12 years ago I cannot see much. Certainly you have built a fine hotel and a few houses, but beyond that there has been nothing done towards improvement. The trouble is there's too much talk and too little ' do' in this country, and you can't expect to find oil with labels on the barrels ready for shipment. This applies all round and unless you ' hustle some' some of you on K.I. are going to get badly left. Wake up right now.' Mr Moure desires to acknowledge the valuable assistance rendered him during his visit by Messrs A. H. Campbell, F. H. Winch, and J. M. Ward (manager of the Common wealth Salt Go.), whose local know ledge and organisation greatly facilitated his inspection.

Kangaroo Island Courier (Kingscote, SA : 1907 - 1951), Saturday 17 January 1914, page 4PETROLEUM ON KANGAROO ISLAND. (1914, January 17). The Kangaroo Island Courier (Kingscote, SA : 1907 - 1951), p. 5.


1922. Mr. Keith Ward, the Government Geologist, in his report concerning the supposed oil discovery on American Beach, Kangaroo Island, expressed the opinion that the oil on the shore came from a steamer using oil fuel. He also expressed the opinion that the divining rod is useless, either for the purpose of locating oil or water.

TELEGRAMS. (1922, January 20). The Narracoorte Herald (SA : 1875 - 1954), p. 2.

Kangaroo Island Oil Find 

It is now [1934] about 40 years since the little town of Hog Bay, Kangaroo Island, now known as Penneshaw, was plunged into wild excitement at the reported discovery of a spring of oil on the south coast of the island. In those days large pieces of bitumen were often found on the coast, having been washed up by the sea. 

A young man of the town decided to have a joke with the residents, and he told a friend one afternoon in strict secrecy that he had found a spring of oil. They agreed to say nothing about it until they had pegged out their oil lease, which they decided to do as soon as a miner's right could be obtained. 

It so happened that no miner's right could be obtained at Hog Bay, and they decided to wait until that evening and then ride to Cape Willoughby, a distance of 18 miles, and despatch a telegram for a miner's right. It was agreed that this should be done by the friend, who set off that evening on a medium draught horse on his 36 mile ride. 

The same evening the finder told another friend of his wonderful discovery and he, not being very conversant with mining regulations, went to a local justice of the peace for advice. The latter said that he would ride to Cape Willoughby straight away and wire for a miner's right for each of them, after which they would each peg out a claim. 

While they were waiting for the miner's rights to arrive, the finder arranged with both his friends that, in order to save time, he would meet them near the scene of the discovery. He would walk out there in advance while they, as soon as their miner's right reached them through the post, were to ride out with it as quickly as possible. 

The friend who was first told of the find got a good start, but the justice of the peace, being mounted on a faster horse, soon overtook him. As he did not know the exact locality of the find, he arranged with the other man to share the discovery. 

News of the reported find, however, had by this time leaked out, and a rush had set out from Hog Bay in pursuit of the peggers. All through the morning men continued to arrive and to peg claims, irrespective of the fact that they had no miner's rights. 

The original finder had not put in an appearance yet, and no one was sure of the exact locality of the find, although every likely spot had been pegged. 

He arrived some time after midday, and appeared surprised at seeing such a crowd there. When he was asked to show them the spring, he said he would not show it to a crowd, and nothing could move him from that decision. 

It gradually began to dawn on them that they had been hoaxed, and when this was realised the finder was called everything but a gentleman. So ended the great Kangaroo Island oil find. — 'Kingscote.'

Real Life Stories Of South Australia (1934, September 20). Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1895 - 1954), p. 13.