An Official Trip To Kangaroo Island 1880
South Australian Chronicle and Weekly Mail (Adelaide, SA : 1868 - 1881), Saturday 13 March 1880, page 15
[The Editor had added paragraphs and subheadings to make the prose more readable. Editor's comments are in square brackets.]
AN OFFICIAL TRIP TO KANGAROO ISLAND.
For some time past, owing to applications made to the Grown Lands Department that more agricultural land might be offered for selection on Kangaroo Island, and that the resources and importance of that detached portion of the province might be in other ways recognised, the Commissioner of Crown Lands (the Hon. T. Playford) has contemplated paying a visit to the island, in order that he might judge for himself as to the character of the soil, the wants of the residents, and the best means to be adopted in order to develop the resources of the island and satisfy the just claims of the inhabitants to such advantages as their fellow-colonists on the mainland derive from the administration of a paternal government. Accordingly he determined to sail on the 27th February on this mission. The dinner of the South Australian Farmers' Association detained the Commissioner till late, but with Mr. Goyder (Surveyor -General) and the Secretary to the Crown Lands Department (Mr. Andrews), he took the 11.15 train for the Semaphore, where the Lady Diana was in readiness at the wharf. By invitation Messrs. L. L. Furner, M.P., G. W. D. Beresford (Clerk of the Assembly), J. H. Finlayson, J.P., J. P. Stow, J.P., and Nicholls, accompanied the official party, and shortly after midnight the little steamer left the wharf, and as soon as she got clear of the roads steered for Hog Bay.
The wind was dead ahead, and the sea decidedly rough ; and as the Lady Diana, though a safe boat, is exceedingly lively the passengers had a very uncomfortable time of it, and three-fourths of them suffered more or less (generally more) from the pangs and convulsions of mal de mer. It is worth while observing that should any serious accident happen to this little craft the passesgers and crew would have but small chances of escape ; for she carries but one boat, and that a small one, only capable of carrying four persons, the two rowers included, through a heavy sea. This is clearly a case for the interference of some colonial Plimsoll to bring the authorities responsible for such neglect to a proper sense of their duty. However, there was nothing dangerous in the marine commotion on that boisterous Friday night, and the smooth water of Hog Bay was reached about 9 o'clock on Saturday morning, when the sick tourists soon began to recover from their prostration.
The coastline about here is steep, though not very high, and here and there small patches of grass appear among the dense scrub. Opposite to where the steamer lay at anchor were two or three cottages and some cleared land, most of which had been cultivated for many years. Some dried pasture furnished sustenance to the live stock, of the few settlers. Water is obtained in the neighborhood from wells and springs. After a time it was found that though the steamer was in Hog Bay proper, the spot in which she really should have stopped was the Basin, or Hog Bay Basin, or Hog Basin (the exact name, is immaterial), a little further to the westward, and accordingly anchor was weighed, and this harbor was soon reached.. Here the party went ashore in detachments and interviewed the residents or were interviewed by them. Mr. Wilson [sic], the only J.P. on the island except Mr. Daw, of the Cygnet River, resides in this locality, and his sons have farms in different parts of the island.
Agriculture around Hog Bay
The soil fit for agriculture in this neighborhood is limited in extent; but what there is of it is rich, and land that has been cropped for thirty years and more still yields 25 to 30 bushels of barley per acre. On some of the holdings from 40 to 50 bushels are grown. Little corn besides barley: is cultivated about this part of the island, as that crop is found to be most profitable. It is hand reaped, and thrashed with a grooved roller drawn by horses, and working in a circle, and tapering to the centre of the circle, where it is attached to a ring and stake. This simple implement came into fashion about the Adelaide Plains between twenty-five and thirty years ago, but it is a very long time since it has been used on the mainland, unless in some rare cases that have not come under our observation. It does its work thoroughly and cheaply. The corn is threshed on the bare ground, and where the soil is soft the grain is necessarily discolored, and its market value reduced. This is not the case, however, on hard ground, and that advantage secured, the barley is in the best possible condition for the maltster. The brewers object to barley reaped by the Ridley, as that machine, they state, in thrashing the crop, destroys the germinating power of considerable proportion of the grains. This has been denied by farmers, but it is difficult to see what benefit the brewers could derive from making such a statement unless it were correct, and the question is easily settled by soaking a certain number of grains reaped by the Ridley and an equal numbex gathered and thrashed in another way, and comparing the results.
An excursion - spying out the land
On the afternoon of Saturday the Commissioner of Crown Lands, the Surveyor-General, and three others of the party managed to borrow horses of the settlers, and, accompanied by one of Mr. Wilson's [sic] sons rode in a southerly direction to spy out the land. Their tract led through miles of scrub, composed of small mallee, varied by black oak, scrub- teatree, prickly acacia, heather, and other familiar Australian trees and shrubs, ail the timber being very stunted, till they struck the Hog Bay River, that goes almost completely across Mac Donnell Peninsula, which forms the most eastern portion of the island, and on old maps is described as Dudley Island. It is almost separated from the rest of Kangaroo Island by the American River and Pelican Lagoon. There is pasture on the river, some farms where the favorite crop of barley is grown successfully, crops of over 40 bushels and up to 50 bushels per acre rewarding the labors of the husband-man. The party stayed for an hour at a farm belonging to one of Mr. Wilson's sons, about eight or ten miles from Hog Bay, and were refreshed by the cup that cheers but not inebriates. Thrashing was going on at homestead, and the corn was plump and clean. In the river the water is brackish, but cattle drink it. There are springs, however, where a fresh wholesome supply of water is obtained. The timber is large, all along the river flat. Farming extends about two or three miles down the river beyond this point, but we believe there is land available further down the river southwards. Away from the river a short distance nothing, is met with but scrub and worthless land. Some large parrots with gorgeous crimson plumage were seen here of a kind never seen on the mainlaad within hundreds of miles of Adelaide.
An unfortunate incident involving a horse
An unfortunate incident befel the excursionists on their return. They travelled very steadily, but now and then cantered or trotted for a few hundred yards, and during one of these little spurts a chesnut mare that Mr. Wilson was riding suddenly reeled and staggered, and almost directly after her rider threw himself from the saddle she fell, and was dead in about two minutes. The animal was apparently in perfect health when she started from the bay, and various amateur opinions were hazarded as to the nature of the attack to which she succumbed so rapidly and unexpectedly. One diagnosis described her death to a stoppage in the intestines ; one of the tourists believed that she ruptured her bladder, another that she burst her mighty heart, but the only fact upon which there' seemed to be any absolute certainty seemed to be that the mare was dead. One of the saddles was planted near her to be picked up by a passing dray, and there being now a horse short the members of the party walked by turns, and striking more to the westward came to American Beach, where the steamer, by arrangement, was at anchor.
Before leaving Hog Bay altogether some attention should be paid to some of the notabilities of the place, and foremost among these should be mentioned George Bates, who arrived at the island in the year 1824, 12 years before the colony of South Australia was founded, and with the exception of a few months spent on the mainland has remained there ever since. He is now 80 years of age and takes pleasure in relating the events of his history. In his young days he was a seaman in the British navy, but found his way to New South Wales, and in the year mentioned left Van Diemen's Land for Kangaroo Island, where he with his mates lived by seal catching and snaring wallabies and other animals. The island then swarmed with kangaroos and wallabies, but the value of their skins has led to the destruction of these marsupials at so rapid a rate that they are now almost exterminated. It is said that there are still two or three kangaroos on the island, and in the western portion there are wallabies, but the few persons who live by selling wallaby skins have to work hard and travel over a great deal of country in order to earn a livelihood. The Commissioner's party saw a great many snares, but not a single head of game in all the miles they travelled. Some persons take up country on the island, ostensibly for pastoral purposes, at a small rent, but in reality only to hunt or rather snare wallabies.
George Bates has long given up this occupation, but he tells strange stories of his experiences in the old days, when vessels used to call and deal with the islanders and purchase from them at the expense of £10 or £12 property worth £1,000. At various points along the coast the islanders; had stores of skins of the seal, the wallaby, and the kangaroo, and the traders who dealt with them made the poor fellows drunk, and kept them so while in all the pride of sobriety they drove uncommonly hard bargains, and sold a needle or two or a few fishhooks for a sealskin worth £3. At these times the sealers had with them native women they had taken from Tasmania; or sometimes they stole a few from the mainland, opposite to Kangaroo Island, and Mr. Bates states that the traders, who visited the island occasionally, brought them a Tasmanian lubra for a consideration. Bates had an old mate named [Nathaniel] Thomas, who died a short time ago, leaving him the last representative of the small community of wild and it may be supposed somewhat lawless adventurers who escaped from the convict colonies to the island, and with their captive sable spouses were its sole occupants until it was taken possession of by the pioneer colonists of South Australia. Even after that time some very desperate characters resorted to the island, and some of them were captured by Inspector Tolmer and his men.
George Bates is we should mention no relation to another person of the name who takes a prominent part in the affairs of the island, and is well known to the Government and the representatives of the press, and has a number of relatives, whereas George has no children and no connections except his wife. George Bates's mate [Nathaniel Thomas], whom we have referred to, left a daughter by a Tasmanian aboriginal [Betty]. The mother is dead, but the daughter [Hannah nee Thomas] is married to Mr. [Thomas] Simpson, postmaster at Hog Bay, and has a fine healthy family of quadroons. Mr. Simpson is applying for a grant of land on the faith of an Act of the South Australian Parliament which provides that anyone marrying an aboriginal native woman or the daughter of an aboriginal native woman of this colony, shall be entitled to a section of land. The difficulty in this case is that Mr. Simpson's mother-in-law was not an aboriginal native of this colony, but of Tasmania, and the Act does not authorise the granting of land to a person marrying any other than a South Australian aboriginal.
The last Tasmanian aboriginal
Several years ago we heard of the death, in Tasmania, of the last aboriginal native of that colony, but it appears she left survivors in Kangaroo Island, and the last of them only lately passed away. There were three old hags of that race, who having outlived their ex-whaling or convict lords and masters, used to roam about together, and bore an evil reputation. It is believed that they killed Mrs. Thomas [Betty], the colored lady we have mentioned, on account of some grudge they had against her, or perhaps from sheer envy at her happy condition [no evidence]. At last one of the trio died, and the remaining two were inseparable. They stole the little child [no evidence] of the lighthousekeeper at Cape Willoughby and ate it [no evidence]. One of these women lost her eyesight, and one day she came into one of the settlements and reported that her companion was dead [no evidence]. The poor wretch that remained, though blind, could find her way about in an astonishing manner, but suddenly disappeared, and no trace of her has ever been seen, and so vanished the veritable last Tasmanian aboriginal.
While about Hog Bay the party inspected a most interesting relic of a French exploring party, situated between Hog Bay proper and the Lady Diana's next anchorage. This memento consisted of the following inscription rudely carved upon a stone a short distance above high-water mark : - "EXPEDITION DE DECOUVERTE, PAR LE COMMENDANT BAUDIN, SUR LE GEOGRAPHE, 1803.' It will be observed that one of these words is spelt incorrectly, but the above is an exact copy of the inscription.
At American Beach, where the party gathered in the evening, there is good anchorage, safe landing and pleasant walking along the hard sand. The sand hills in the background are picturesque, and really beautiful to look at in the gloaming of a summer's evening, covered as they are with shrubs and trees of no great height, but wide-spreading and umbrageous. At the back of these hills is an open flat of two or three chains width; and on the other side of it farms, where heavy crops of barley, yielding from 30 to 50 bushels per acre are grown.
On the following morning anchor was weighed, and the Lady Diana steamed into the American River, where two well-known yachts were anchored, namely, Sir William Milne's and Sir Thomas Elder's. Sir William and his son boarded the Lady Diana, and spent sometime with the party. Sir Thomas Elder's yacht was there for the purpose of taking in shells for garden purposes, and the owner was not with her. Some good fishing had been enjoyed by Sir William's party, but up to this time the anglers on the Lady Diana had not been very successful. Just opposite to the anchorage is Mr. Buik's homestead. Here is a nice garden, and the proprietor presented the excursionists with some fine watermelons, which were greatly relished. Settlers at Hog Bay, American Beach, and American River keep sheep, as well as cattle, and a few horses, and most of the animals the party saw were in good condition. They also breed swine, and wild pigs are plentiful on this part of the island. Horses thrive on the island better than any other stock. The Commissioner of Crown Lands intends to have a township, to be named "Sapphire," surveyed near the mouth of the river on the east side, and it is the intention of the Government to reserve land on the banks of the river for marine residences, as it is thought this part of Kangaroo Island will become a rival to Port Elliot and other retreats during bur hot summer months.
The river is an arm of the sea, wide, and of good depth. The Lady Diana steamed up it for some miles, and into the Pelican Lagoon and among the islands there. The scenery, notwithstanding the barrenness of the country, is varied and attractive, the bleakness of some of the islets contrasting with the scrub vegetation densely covering others, while there was attraction in the succession of reaches and the windings of the lagoon. Some of the islets were visited by the party in boats. The wood consisted principally of mallee and salt-water teatree. One island was covered with marsh mallows, which had been introduced there by some chance. That peculiar vegetable product known to old colonists as "the pigface" abounded. On one of the islands some specimens of the genuine saltbush were gathered, but there is very little of this invaluable plant on Kangaroo Island, and unfortunately there are very few wild shrubs on the island that either sheep or other live stock will eat. They will just nibble a little at many of the plants, but will not swallow them in earnest. Some of the islands had grass, and a little pasture appeared on the mainland of Kangaroo Island, if we may so express ourselves.
Prospect Hill and Pennington Bay
While the exploration of these shores and waters was going on in boats the steamer was aground, but soon after the party had returned to the vessel she was got off and went back to the morning's anchorage, the excursionists being highly pleased with their trip. Pelican Lagoon extends to within two or three miles of the ocean on the south side. Oh the east side of the lagoon at its southern extremity is Prospect Hill, a sandy eminence which poor Pennington ascended nearly thirty years ago, and in attempting to return to the sea lost his way, and no relic of him has ever been seen since. The little inlet where was anchored the vessel which took him and his fellow-excursionists on this fatal holiday trip is named Pennington Bay in memory of the sad event.
On Monday, the 1st March, the Lady Diana sailed for Kingscote, picking up at Whalebone Point the Surveyor-General, who had risen early and walked overland in order to inspect the country. Some agricultural holdings were passed on the way, though the useful land appeared not to be of very great extent. Kingscote is the station to which the telegraph cable connecting the island with Yankalilla on the mainland is attached. A land line of telegraph runs from Kingscote to Cape Borda, on the west end of the island, and a branch line to Cape Willoughby is in course of construction. As may be supposed the business transacted at the Kingscote station is very limited and the time of the Operator must hang heavily on his hands.
In other respects the settlement has not progressed much , since the days when the manager of the South Australian Company, the late Mr. William Giles, established his head-quarters there, with the few sheep and cattle he managed to land safely from the good ship Hartley in 1837. It was not long before it was discovered that either as a great pastoral or agricultural settlement Kangaroo Island was a mistake, and the company abandoned it, though retaining the proprietorship of some land there which has not changed owners to this day.
Some of the pioneers of 1836 remained on that part of the island, and the Lady Diana's party met with one named Calnan, who with two brothers were boys when the first colonists landed on Kangaroo Island, and remained there ever since, till recently one of the three removed to the mainland. They built three comfortable stone houses and farmed steadily, but of course the soil is becoming somewhat exhausted. The horses look in good condition, and there are a few cattle and some flocks of sheep about. Outside the small area of pasture and cleared land all is thick scrub. A considerable talent for fictitious statement has been developed in some of the islanders and one or two of them at one of the locations endeavored to impress the excursionists party with the belief that all the grass on Kangaroo Island had been sown by the energetic settlers, but this is absurd, for the earliest colonists found native pasture in spots. Probably were the scrub frequently burnt grass would grow in some places where there is not at present a blade to the square mile. The old house occupied by the manager of the South Australian Company upwards of forty years ago is now a ruin. It was built of wood, and the supports, through the ravages of decay and white ants have given way till there has been a collapse, and the eaves of the roof rest upon the ground. The roof was of shingles imported from Van Diemen's Land, and being well put on are nearly all in their places, though very rotten, with their upper surface furrowed and washed away by the rains that for more than four decades have fallen upon them.
One or two hundred yards from this ruin is the cemetery, which is in a very dilapidated state. Some of the graves, we understand, are trodden down past recognition ; the white ants and the effects of time have partially obliterated an inscription on a grave-post of gumwood erected in the year 1839; a brick vault or tomb is so injured by the weather that all traces of the words carved in memory of the lady whose last resting-place is underneath have disappeared. One resident in the neighborhood, it is stated, boasted several years ago that he grew vegetables on some of these graves. That any burial-ground should be so degraded is shocking, but the fact that here lie the remains of some of our pioneer colonists forms a special reason why the Government should take measures to preserve their graves from desecration. It would not cost much to fence the ground in, and the care of it could be then given to some trustworthy person living in the vicinity.
At Kingscote the gratifying news of the defeat of the Berry Ministry at the elections was received, and with light hearts the excursionists steamed out to fish near a sandspit. A few of the finny tribe were caught by anglers on the vessel, but a detachment of the passengers and crew that went in the boat to other ground hooked a considerable number. A signal fire conveyed to the Surveyor-General the intelligence that four horses and an express waggon he had despatched from Port Adelaide by the Gambier Lass, a sailing craft, had been landed at the American River, and the steamer accordingly returned to her old anchorage on Tuesday morning. It had been hoped that horses might be borrowed at Kingscote, but such expectations had been disappointed, the Lady Diana's excursionists having been forestalled by a party of pleasure seekers who, to use the Coglinian form of speech, were circumambulating the island. As the Government trap would only hold four persons conveniently besides the driver it became necessary to divide the party, and accordingly it was arranged that, in addition to the Commissioner of Crown Lands and the Surveyor-General, Messrs. Finlayson and Stow should do the land trip to Cape Borda, while the rest of the passengers should stick to the steamer and cruise about fishing, as suited their pleasure, till Friday, when they were to meet the land party at Snug Cove, twenty miles east from the cape.
Setting off overland for Cape Borda
The overlanders started about 11 a.m.with the first four-in-hand that had been seen in the island, and a fine handsome team it was. Mr. Buik put them on the right track, and leaving his clearing and a few pines behind them they soon plunged into the scrub. After travelling several miles they came to the Cape Willoughly branch of the telegraph and followed it, generally closely, but sometimes the track left it on the right and sometimes on the left. The way was very rough through the stumps not being cut down level with the ground. There were a number of deviations in order to find crossing-places over the creeks, as the telegraph line constructors had preferred to travel half a mile or a mile out of the way to spending half an hour in making a crossing. One of these creeks had numerous branches, and there was great delay in finding the way over or round them, but just here the party met Mr. Daw, J.P., of Cygnet River, who piloted the driver, while the majority of the tourists from afar, on an eminence, watched the difficulties that were being surmounted or evaded.
After this the road was easier, till Mr. Daw's farm on the river was reached, and here the party were hospitably entertained by the owner; and most of them were equally astonished and delighted to see a fine sheet of fresh good water, which extends for miles, and were the timber cleared but of it might afford pleasure to boating parties. The water is very deep and permanent, and contains bream and other fish. The banks are overhung with fresh water, teatree and gums, and on the flats on both sides are eucalypti [sic] of considerable size, melaleuca and other trees, with dense forest in the background beyond the clearing. The scene was charming, and was especially enjoyed after the dismal region the party had travelled through. In any part of South Australia this would be thought a beautiful spot and most desirable to live in. The land is fertile, though no one would suppose so to look at it. The surface is a white sandy soil, and the fertility is in the subsoil, which is a reddish or yellowish clay, so that deep ploughing is advisable. As much as fifty bushels of wheat per acre have been taken from this land, and heavy crops of oats. The party saw sheep on tne holding looking uncommonly well, and some good horses in fine condition. Among the latter were a fine mare, purchased at the Hill River sales, and a draught entire, bought at Strathalbyn. Most of the farm has been reclaimed from the scrub forest, and there area few thousand acres more that might be turned to profitable account in the same way.
The day's journey was about sixteen miles, and on the follow ing morning the party resumed their travels, Mr. Daw accompanying them on horseback, the Surveyor-General being also accommodated with a horse. For some miles the road lay along the river flat, which taking both sides ol the river was sometimes more than a mile wide, bearing an open forest, of gumtrees, some of them 2 feet 6 inches in diameter, and others fine straight saplings, suitable for telegraph poles. It is the intention of the Commissioner to offer land for agricultural selection about this river and elsewhere in the hundred of Menzies, between D'Estree Bay on the south, and Point Marsden on the north of the island.
When the river was left scrub was at once entered, and the soil for nearly the whole distance to Cape Borda was wretchedly poor, and most of it covered with ironstone gravel. There were, however, some ravines that were agreeable to look at, and where timber grew that furnished telegraph poles; and there were some trees of a larger size. This part of the island is well watered, so that even bullock-teams might travel on it without inconvenience to man or beast. The scrub was composed of stunted trees of various kinds, including dwarf, mallee, lilliputian black oak, and diminutive banksia or honeysuckle. Patches of prickly acacia were passed through, and blackboys alias grass-trees abounded, their stumps forming the chief obstructions to vehicular progress. In the better parts of the island a few cherry trees and pines had been seen.
Soon after leaving the river the junction of the Cape Willoughby with the Cape Borda line of telegraph was reached, and after this the road lay along the latter, or a short distance on either side of it. About mid-day a halt was made at some excellent, waterholes in a creek that leads to the Cygnet River, and in the evening the party camped on another branch of that stream, where there was a larger supply of the pure element, the pools extending for a considerable distance, and some of them being tolerably deep. As the weather was threatening a wurlay was constructed, and a piece of tarpaulin thrown over the roof. About midnight the rain, began to fall, but four of the party found dry shelter under this covering, while another was protected from the rain by his oilskin rug, and the driver coiled under the waggon. Next day the road was rougher than ever, the stumps being more numerous. They were on each side of the road and in the middle, and so thickly studding the way that to have piloted a one-horse trap through them would not have been easy ; to drive four horses safely among such obstructions was a task of extreme difficulty. Perpetual joltings, frequent collisions, and occasional stoppages were inevitable, and at last there was a smash of the forepart of the vehicle, to which the pole is attached. The broken bar was spliced with a sapling and cord, and the journey was resumed after half an hour's delay. At the end of nine miles the party pulled up for an hour for refreshments in a fine ravine, where there was good water and well-grown saplings. Three or four miles further on the country changed to heath, and here the horses were able to trot along pleasantly.
A short stay was made at some shanties, where a wallaby tracker, his wife and daughter, and a telegraph line repairer live when at home, but on this occasion none of them were at home.
Arriving at Cape Borda
On nearing Harvey's Return, a little cove where, when the wind is favorable, ships find safe anchorage, the country improved, and about here there were stringybark and bastard gumtrees. This spot is about two miles and a half distant from Cape Borda, and the road is good enough to trot over the greater part of the distance. The party were expected, and found comfortable quarters and good fare at the head-keeper's residence. The lighthouse was of course inspected with great interest, the machinery and the perfect condition in which it is kept being greatly admired. The light is alternately white and red, each being shown every thirty seconds. There are eight burners in aft, two deep, those of the same color being together. At a distance the two lights, one above the other, appear as one, but viewed close by the whole arrangement gives the idea of a kaleidoscope. The Althorpe light is visible from the Cape, a distance of about thirty miles. Quite a little colony is settled at Cape Borda. There are the head-keeper and two assistants, a watchman, who passes the whole night on the lookout for vessels, and the telegraph operator, besides, several families of children, who here, as in other parts of the island, are healthy, and very numerous in proportion to the adult portion of the population. There is some pasture about the Cape, and the officials keep horses, goats and fowls. We understand that the Government will reserve land here in order that sheep may be kept for the use of this establishment.
Education on the Island
The question of education is a serious one in connection with Kangaroo Island, where the population is small and scattered, and there are not many children of a school-going age at any one settlement. The Commissioner of Crown Lands was, we believe, impressed with the desirability of declaring school reserves in various localities. The total population on the island is about 300 ; the number of sheep, 30,000 ; and the number of acres under cultivation about 3,000. The revenue from Crown lands amounts to about £900, and calculating the taxation through the Customs at £2 per head, the receipts from this source amount to £600, making £1,500 in all. These figures have to be considered in deciding what expenditure there shall be on that part of the province. Of course the islanders have little or no interest in the telegraphs and lights, those being national works for the benefit of the whole community ; and leaving these out of the question it remains for the Government to decide what expenditure they can afford on the island, and whether there has hitherto been a fair outlay there. It is worth mentioning that were the stumps cleared on the track from the Cygnet River to Cape Borda, that would be one of the finest natural roads in the colony, and this improvement would not cost much money.
At Cape Borda a telegram was received stating that the Lady Diana would call at Harvey's Return on Friday afternoon if the weather should be calm, but in the event of it being rough would go to Snug Cove, according to previous arrangement. This news was very welcome, as the latter place is very difficult of access from the land, and it is a day's journey to it from Cape Borda. Accordingly the party drove to Harvey's Return in the forenoon, and remained there till 3 o'clock, when the little steamer made her appearance. This spot is wild and picturesque, with high, steep, woody ranges on each side of the deep ravine that leads down to the little patch of sand where the landing is effected from the vessels that put in here. Goods are drawn up and lowered by a tramway worked at the summit of the acclivity by horse-power, the gradient being somewhere about 1 in 2. The Musgrave called here about 8 o'clock in the forenoon, and landed some goods, but left before a messenger from the Cape could communicate with her.
Return voyage after a spot of fishing
There were rather heavy rollers when the Lady Diana took her passengers on board, but her little boat behaved well, and the embarkation was effected safely, with no worse results to any of the tourists than a slight wetting. The travellers by land and those who had amused themselves on the briny greeted each other cordially, and compared notes. The steamer had been taken across to the Althorpes, where splendid fishing was obtained. The party did not hurry away from the neighborhood of Hardy's Return [sic], but tried several fishing grounds with indifferent results. At last a fair start, with all sail set, was made. The coastline for some miles eastward from Cape Borda is bold, lofty, and precipitous, and in some places composed entirely of rock, while at the base are numerous caves, where in the old times the sealers used to find their prey. A little after daylight the steamer lay to near Troubridge Shoal that the anglers might try their luck again, but the tide was too strong, and after a short delay the vessel steamed straight away for the Port River, and about 12 o'clock she brought up alongside the wharf at Glanville, and so ended a most pleasant trip, rendered more enjoyable by the perfect harmony among all the passengers, the kindness of the captain, and the obliging disposition of his officers and crew.
And from the writings of another "excursionist":
Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904), Saturday 13 March 1880, page 6
A WEEK ON KANGAROO ISLAND.
[By one of the Party.]
Shortly after midnight on Saturday, February 28, the Government steamer Lady Diana, Captain Inglis, steamed away from the Semaphore Jetty having on board the Hon. T. Playford,, Commissioner of Crown Lands; Mr. G. W. Goyder, Surveyor-General, and Messrs. L. L. Furner, M.P., G. W. D. Beresford, H. J. Andrews, J. P. Stow, J. Nicholls, and J. H. Finlayson. The party had been organized, not, as has been erroneously conjectured, to search for Pilot Germein—to whose mysterious disappearance, as a matter of fact, reference was made during the trip—but to circumnavigate the island, and by a series of trips inland from different harbours to gather information as to the character of the country. No doubt the idea of having a week's change of scene, and a little pleasant recreation besides entered into the design of the excursionists; but the primary object in view was the thoroughly practical one of ascertaining how much of the island is available for settlement. The programme was not completely carried out, but it was as nearly so as circumstances would permit. At present, although the area of the island is from ten to twelve million acres, the total quantity of land surveyed does not much exceed 60,000 acres. Of this only some 12,000 are occupied for agricultural purposes, whilst the area under crop is probably not more than three thousand acres. It is true that the rest of the land is held under pastoral lease, but to so limited an extent is it stocked that the total number of sheep is stated to be under 80,000, or say two sheep to the square mile. Considering that the suitability of portions at least of Kangaroo Island for farming occupation has been known for fully forty-three years, it is surprising that so little has been done towards putting the capabilities of the country to the test. People have gone north, south, east, and west in search of land, but only the very few— and those mostly the relatives or friends of old settlers—have turned their steps towards the huge island which lies at the entrance to St. Vincent's Gulf. Hence it has come to pass that it has taken nearly half a century to assemble upon it a population of 250 souls. To this result some of the islanders have contributed by following the traditional tactics of squatters and bringing up an evil report of the land, in the hope of keeping it to themselves; but there is reason to believe that any selfish policy, of this kind is being successfully checkmated.
The Lady Diana was strongly recommended to the party as being of a buoyant and cork-like disposition... [several paragraphs of flowery language describing the vessel and the voyage] ...
Soon after daylight on the morning of departure the Lady Diana took up a position in Hog Bay, but the weather being unsuitable for landing there the anchorage was speedily changed for Hog Basin. The coast at this point is not particularly inviting. The rocks which encase it consist for the -most part of water-worn slate, the surface of the higher ridge being curiously crusted with a ruddy moss, presenting the appearance of rust. The view to seaward is, however, more interesting, and the Government Reserve, which rises above the waterline, will no doubt in time be covered: with residences. Beyond it are several unpretending houses, one of which is used for a school. Some half mile to the right of the Basin is a cottage wherein resides George Bates, the last survivor of the race of settlers who took up their abode in the island many years before South Australia had any separate existence as a British colony. Some of the party visited this interesting retreat, and were entertained by the aged veteran with tales of the olden times. The number of these pioneers was never large, and it is not long since one member of it—Thomas—passed away at a ripe age. Another member of it— Meredith—in years gone by met a violent death at the hands of the blacks on the mainland for having assisted in abducting the wife of a chief.
It is well known that when the island was first discovered it contained no human aboriginal inhabitants. The strait which separates it from Cape Jervis, narrow as it is, had proved an impassable barrier to the blacks of the continent, who owned no canoes capable of living upon the sea, and probably had no curiosity to explore the great island lying to the westward. The whalers and sealers when they came brought with them some of the natives of Tasmania, and now and then made, a raid upon the main land, carrying off lubras without the least regard to their wishes or the rights of their relations. Tradition has it that one noble woman, who bad been torn from her two children and borne to the other side, contrived to elude the vigilance of her captors and, plunging boldly into the sea, swam to the opposite shore. No wonder that the outraged natives should seize the first opportunity of revenging themselves upon the buccaneers who so wantonly molested them. The Tasmanian aboriginals transferred to the island lived peaceably among the whites, and it is not long since the last of them—rendered blind and almost bereft of her senses by sheer old age—wandered off into the scrub and perished. Some of the descendants of these immigrants are still to be met with in various stages of assimilation to their white neighbours. One of them—a half-caste—is married to the Postmaster at Hog Bay, and has borne him a numerous progeny of sons and daughters. There is an old Act on the Statute-book entitling half-caste children born in wedlock to ascertain grant of land, and advantage was taken of the presence of the Commissioner of Crown Lands on the island to bring before him the claims of the family. It would be unkind to prejudge the matter, seeing that Mr. Playford has undertaken to look into it, but the law will certainly have to be strained to cover the case. Among the other dusky inhabitants of the island is a woman of gigantic size and of herculean strength, weighing, it is said, no less than 24 stone. She also has children, one of whom is an idiot. George Bates — old as he is — is still keen of intellect, and delights to dwell upon that period when whalers and sealers were constant visitors to the island, leading a wild, rollicking life, and buying their cargoes of blubber and skins almost at their own price. Those were the days when the kangaroo, now almost extinct, swarmed over the island in myriads; when the wallaby, at present to be seen only here and there, were to be met with everywhere; and when other forms of animal and bird life which have well-nigh disappeared afforded ample diversion to the sportsman. Now the traveller may go from east to west of the island and see of animals only an occasional wallaby or porcupine; of reptiles, a snake, iguana, or lizard; and of birds, a stray flock of parrots, and black or white cockatoos, with every now and then a robin redbreast, a water-wagtail, or some solitary warbler of the woods well known to the ornithologist.
Luncheon, brought on shore out of consideration for the weak stomachs of the victims of the Lady Diana, having been discussed al fresco, in company with the Postmaster before mentioned, and Mr. Thomas Willson, J.P., one of the magnates of the island, the Commissioner of Crown Lands, the Surveyor General, and three other members of the party set out on horseback, under the pilotage of one of Mr. Willson's sons. The islanders had thoughtfully provided the Commissioner with an exceptionally powerful, if not a particularly elegant, steed, and in the ride of sixteen or eighteen miles which followed it never flinched. Passing the shanties of some half dozen settlers, whose means of subsistence seemed to be singularly precarious, and skirting the beach as far as Hog Bay, the excursionists paid a visit to one of the most ancient and interesting of the landmarks of exploration which the South Australian coast furnishes. It is the rough rock tablet on which is recorded the arrival of the French navigators who, closely following Captain Flinders in the examination of the Island, gave to many of the bays and headlands names which have been retained to the present day. It speaks well for the durability of the slate in which the record appears that the lettering is as distinct now as if it had been cut only a few years back. These are the words
"EXPEDITION DE DECOUVERTE PAR LE COMMENDANT BAUDIN SUR LE GE0GRAPHE. 1803."
The rock upon which the inscription appears is the boldest amongst a small forest of jutting prominences, worn into all sorts of shapes by the action of weather and tide. From this point the party struck off in a southerly direction into the interior of the Hundred of Dudley. Most of the land has been surveyed, but only a very few selectors have been tempted to try their fortunes in the scrub-timbered sands of which it chiefly consists. Those who have hit upon a good spot have succeeded in gathering from thirty to thirty-five bushels of barley to the acre. This has been reaped by hand, and is now being threshed out by the rude methods common on the mainland some twenty years ago, a roller drawn by horses being the most popular. The grain is generally of good quality, but sufficient care has not been taken to keep the rain from it, and thus prevent discoloration. It is not too much to hope, how ever, that in time to come Kangaroo Island will play an important part in feeding the heavy demand for malting barley which has now to be met by importations from abroad. This is a branch of industry which has been almost entirely neglected in the past, and which will continue to be neglected if settlers confine their attention to the North, where the rainfall is very limited, instead of subduing the most promising portions of the scrub lands in the South and on. Kangaroo Island. They certainly will take great deal of subduing, but the rapidity with which the coarse natural vegetation springs up after being cut or burnt down proves that the soil, poor as for the most part it seems to be, possesses productive qualities of no mean order. The riding party had to force its way southward over an ill-defined track, through thickets of mallee, melaleuca, or teatree, banksia, prickly acacia—a plant indigenous to Kangaroo Island, which has proved invaluable for hedge purposes—and other dwarf trees and shrubs. By-and-by it reached the grassy slopes of the Hog River—why the Hog River no man appears to know any more than it is known, why the hog gives its name to so many of the geographical features of the eastern portion of the island— and here patches of better land, some of which has been under cultivation, were met with. Terminating its somewhat tedious journey inland at the house of one of the settlers—also a son of Mr. Willson—the party returned upon its tracks for four or five miles, and then branched off in a north-westerly direction towards American River. The country traversed bore the same characteristics as that between Hog Bay and Hog River, except that it was more hilly. The greater part of the soil was sandy, and the principal vegetation a stunted description of scrub. It is a peculiarity of the island that it has no natural grass, unless the worthless plant known as blackgrass can be so designated. At the same time it is wonderful with what rapidity imported grasses will grow if only the scrub is cleared or burnt down so as to give them a chance of spreading. The experiment has been tried over and over again, and always with the same satisfactory results. Indeed.it is certain that there are few parts of the island which are not capable of producing grass enough to maintain twenty times two sheep to the square mile.
The only misadventure of this first trip into the interior was the loss of a horse, which abruptly swerved from the track while it was being ridden at the rate of about six miles an hour, and in less than five minutes was dead. Time did not allow of a post-mortem examination, but it was evident that death was occasioned by some internal rupture. The accident caused some delay, but before sunset the party had reached American Beach in Eastern Cove. Here again settlement has found a footing, although not to any great extent. The soil, which rests largely upon a limestone bottom, is extremely light, having more the consistency of ashes than of earth, but it is remarkably fertile, yielding fine crops of cereals. The Lady Diana having been brought round from Hog Basin during the afternoon, the party embarked in her, and repaid themselves for the toils of the day by a quiet night's rest. Early on the following morning the little vessel tripped her anchor and steamed to the month of the American River, at the western side of the bay. Here a somewhat narrow channel between two sand-spits leads up to the Government township of Sapphire Town. Nature has done little, and man even less, for this embryo settlement. He who buys an allotment here buys a patch of sand commanding a sea frontage, a beautiful view over the Gulf, and probably having a few feet under its surface a supply of fresh water, obtainable by digging ; that is all. No artificial value has been given to vacant lots by adjoining buildings, for there are no buildings, not even the vestige of one. Still this town, like so many other parts of the island, possesses boundless possibilities of future greatness. When the Isle of Kangaroo assumes its proper position as the Isle of Wight of South Australia there will be no more charming site for residences than Sapphire Town. That this time will come is as certain as it is that the great majority of people on the mainland have no conception of the delicious coolness and salubrity of the climate of the island.
The steamer was brought to anchor just inside the mouth of the American River, where the excursionists received a friendly call from the Vice-Commodore of the Glenelg Yachting Club and party, who had come across in the Hygeia the previous day. Nearby lay the Edith, but her owner was not on board, the yacht being engaged on the special service of conveying shell sand to the other side of the Gulf. A large pile of bags filled with this product of the coast formed on this occasion the homeward cargo of the tight little cutter. As soon as the tide served the Lady Diana steamed up the river, following the windings of the channel under the joint pilotage of Captain Inglis and Mr. Buick, one of the oldest and most intelligent of the settlers. As the vessel proceeded the stream widened out into what is known as Pelican Lagoon—a name, by-the way, which gives but a very faint idea of the character of the magnificent sheet of water at the head of the river. To all appearance it is an immense lake, surrounded by rising ground covered with vegetation almost to the water's edge, studded with what might, except upon close inspection, pass as coral islands, and densely peopled with swans, pelicans, seagulls, plover, and other waterfowl. Here and there are bold promontories jutting out into the water, and towering above all the neighbouring eminences is Prospect Hill, a solitary peak rising to a height of several hundred feet. It was in descending from this hill that poor Penning ton lost his way and was never heard of more. At a cursory glance the lake presents many of the more charming features of Loch Lomond; and although the water is salt and in many places extremely shallow; although the vegetation is, generally speaking, scrub of the poorest kind, and the coral only a rough conglomerate of sand and lime worn externally into fantastic stalagmitic shapes by the action of the tide; although Prospect Hill, in place of being a grand snow-crowned elevation, is an overgrown knoll formed chiefly of sand, still it must be confessed that Pelican Lagoon and its environments form one of the most attractive bits of natural scenery to be met with in South Australia. When the steamer had reached the furthermost point to which it was safe for her to go, her beat and another which had been pressed into the service in the morning, were brought into requisition, and two or three hours were pleasantly spent in rowing or sailing from island to island, examining the formations of the rocks, inspecting the vegetation, gathering the mussels and cockles which bestrewed the beach, and watching the wild tumult produced among the myriads of birds by the advent of such unwonted visitors. On one island the Commissioner of Grown Lands detected the presence of a species of saltbush, while all the islands are more or less covered with the marsh-mallow plant, the seeds of which have doubtless been brought by birds from their haunts on the mainland.
As the shades of evening fell the steamer returned to her anchorage near Sapphire Town, and next morning at 8 o'clock started for Kings cote, stopping en route at a point near Point Morrison, in Nepean Bay, to receive on board the Surveyor-General, who, on valuation business bent, had taken a before-breakfast walk of some seven or eight miles. By 11 o'clock the Lady Diana had taken up a position opposite Kingscote, and presently the telegraph operator was put into an unwonted flutter of excitement through having to send a batch of telegrams to Adelaide, including messages for the public and enquiries for news of the outer world. The news arrived a few hours later, and a cheer resounded over the bay in token of satisfaction at the downfall of the Berry Ministry. The party, broken into groups, strolled through the settlement at Kingscote, taking especial interest in visiting the monuments of a bygone generation of pioneers. On a block of land owned by the South Australian Company,and originally brought under cultivation during the first year or two of the colony's separate existence, were found: the ruins of the house occupied by the family of Mr. 'William Giles, Manager of the Company. Walls and roofs have completely collapsed, and the material, has been allowed to remain as food for the dry-rot and the white ant. Hard by is the burial-place of this little community. There is a rough brick erection, apparently enclosing a vault, but no record is to be found of the settlers who sleep beneath. There is a row of mounds unmarked by any headstone, unprotected by any enclosure, over which the plough of some recent occupier of the land has been ruthlessly driven. Surely it is the duty of some one to see that such sacrilege is prevented, and that, if possible, a memorial to the dead should be erected. There are two or three graves above which stand ricketty rude wooden tablets bearing half or more than half obliterated inscriptions. Among them is to be seen the record of the death of Samuel Giles, who departed this life in 1839. Such a reminder from the silent land has a strangely impressive effect, standing as it does in a spot which forty years ago was more thickly peopled than it is now. There are a few other graves, which the loving care of the relatives of the departed has guarded from the desecrating touch of. the plough-share, but they belong to more modern times. The name inscribed upon them is.that, of Calnan, and the surviving Calnans are still among the leading residents on the island. On leaving the burial-place a visit, was paid to the Post-office (a little out-of-the-way cottage near the seaside). The Postmistress was evidently as much astonished at the numerous and anxious enquiries made for letters as her children were startled at the presence of so many strangers. In these remote parts the arrival of a letter must be a wonderful event, and the apparition of a man of the stature of the Commissioner of Crown Lands nothing short of a nine days' wonder. The return from the trip round Kingscote was made along the shore, which is littered with huge iron stone boulders, and is enclosed by high cliffs, consisting mainly of a hard stone already broken into metal. From this open quarry in years gone by stone was taken for certain roads en the mainland, the construction of which gave the Company the right to select a block of land on the island; and at the present time men are hard at work transferring the .metal to the ship Napperby for conveyance to Port Adelaide. On Monday last there was another vessel in the harbour—the Rachel Cohen—which had left the Port some twenty days before, but which, owing to stress of weather, had found it impossible to leave the Gulf and proceed upon her voyage.
Up to this point anxious attempts had been made at every stopping-place to catch fish, but they had been made absolutely in vain. Now, under the direction of an old resident, the Lady Diana took up a position off a long sand spit leading from Kingscote Point, and a good bag of salmon and whiting was caught without much difficulty. Early next morning the steamer was once more taken back to her old station at Sapphire Town. There the Commissioner of Crown Lands, the Surveyor-General, with Messrs. Stow and Finlayson, were landed with the necessary outfit for a three or four days' journey on shore. The original design was to zigzag the whole of the western part of the island, but inasmuch as no other means of locomotion was available than a buggy and four horses, which had been brought across by the Gambier Lass, this plan was found to be impracticable. Accordingly it was decided to shape as direct a course as possible for Cape Borda by way of the Cygnet River. The starting-place was Mr. Buick's head station, which for the island has been made a little paradise through the thoughtful care bestowed by the owner upon the cultivation of flowers and fruits. For the first two or three miles the road lay alongside the western shore of the American River, but after that it mounted into the ranges. From the summit of the first tier of hills a glorious view was obtained. Below lay the river, ending with Pelican Lagoon, the waters curiously varying in shade according to depth, and the five islands standing out clear and bold in their broken outline. To the left stretched the broad expanse of Nepean Bay, trending out into the wider waters of the Gulf, all gleaming in the sunlight, and enclosing a score of frowning headlands. Far away to the right beyond the Prospect Hill was to be seen D'Estree Bay and the foam crested waves of the broad ocean dashing against the cliffs of Point Reynolds. Altogether the sight was one to be remembered, and it was not without reluctance that the party tore themselves away from it, and, mounting their carriage, pursued their dreary ride to the Cygnet. After travelling for several miles through a comparatively flat heathy country the line of telegraph in process of construction between Kingscote and Cape Willoughby was struck, and for the rest of the day the course taken was north-westerly, along the track of the telegraph poles. And an extremely rough course it was. The clearing parties are never very strict in interpreting the instructions to cut down the scrub within six inches of the ground, but, besides the inconvenience caused by neglect upon this point, the line of route was so intersected with watercourses that it was at times difficult to find a way across them. Ultimately a deep creek was reached which could not be crossed, and after an hour had been spent in vain endeavours to discover how it could best be bridged, the team had to be sent round several miles in order to avoid the obstruction. By this time the party had been joined by a settler from the Cygnet (Mr. Daw), and under his guidance the remainder of the first day's journey was satisfactorily accomplished. The character of the country for the greater part of the twenty five miles or thereabouts thus traversed was by common consent pronounced to be most un inviting. The vegetation alternated from dwarf narrow-leaf melaleuca, mallee, and honey suckle, to heath, grass-tree, hakea, and black oak, and from heath, grass-tree, hakea, and black oak to narrow-leaf melaleuca, mallee, and honeysuckle. Nothing, in short, could well have been more monotonous, the only variety introduced being the gradations of hill and hollow which marked the track for the greater part of its length. Approaching the Cygnet the nature of the country materially changed for the better. In place of yielding sand and rough pebbly ground the soil met with was a mixture of sand and clay, possessing evidently an excellent clay substratum. The alteration for the better showed itself most conspicuously in the improved vegetation, until finally on the banks of the Cygnet the miserably dwarfed trees gave place to what in comparison rightly be termed giants of the forest. It would, in truth, be difficult to exaggerate in describing the beauty and fertility of much of the Cygnet territory, Where Mr. Daw has his location crops of wheat yielding as much as fifty bushels to the acre have been reaped in favoured spots, and the average for barley and oats is from thirty to forty bushels. Of course the cost of clearing is large, but with such a return in prospect that need be no barrier to settlement. The Cygnet itself is a fine stream of water, and might with a little trouble be turned to the best account for purposes of irrigation. It is true the rain fall of Kangaroo Island is above the average for South Australia, but the artificial application of moisture daring the hottest months of the year would necessarily help materially in fertilizing the soil. The land .is not like the rich loamy bottoms to be met with in the Mount Lofty ranges, but experience has shown that it is capable of growing heavy crops, and that for several years in succession. It is not to be wondered at that some of the residents should have importuned the Commissioner to throw open more land for selection at this charming spot, and it is still less astonishing that the Commissioner should have determined to accede to the request.
On Tuesday night the party found comfortable lodgings at Mr. Daw's house, and next day continued their journey—the Surveyor-General on horseback accompanied by Mr. Daw similarly mounted. After about half an hour's drive through a dense scrub, consisting of narrow-leaf melaleuca (tea-tree), Banksia, zanthoria (grass tree). black oak and other shrubs, the valley of the Cygnet was again struck, and this time at a point where stands an immense forest of trees, many of them seven eight feet in girth, and running up to height of over 100 feet. Of the splendid quality of the soil capable of producing such giants of the wood no doubt can be ascertained, and inasmuch as the river pursues a tortuous course through scores of miles of country it is easy to reckon that there are thousands of acres along its banks admirably adapted for free selection. Away from the river the country is altogether different in character. Sand and ferruginous sandstone, either in the form of pebbles strewn over the surface of the ground or of conglomerated; masses in process of decomposition, constitute, the chief constituents of the soiL It would be rash to assert that such land is useless for agricultural purposes, because experience shows that with a rainfall such as Kangaroo Island commands there is very little country in South Australia that will not grow grain. At the same time it is certain that for many years to come the most that can be expected of hundreds of square miles upon the island is that they will maintain stock. Much of it indeed most remain useless, even for this primitive form of occupation, until the scrub has been destroyed by successive burnings and nutritious grasses have taken the place of the worthless vegetation which now abounds. The country between the mouth of the Cygnet and Cape Borda is no doubt intersected in numerous places with watercourses, some of which furnish a permanent supply of water. Here farming might be carried on upon a small scale, were it not for the cost of carriage, which for many years to come must prove an insuperable bar to the patchy system of cultivation, which alone is possible in the interior of the island.
At midday on Wednesday a halt took place in the neighbourhood of some springs of brackish water, and at nightfall the party camped out by the side of a well-filled stream of deliciously fresh water. Travellers on the island have no fear of bush fires before their eyes, and while some of the excursionists busied themselves in erecting a veritable mi-mi, others kindled a fire,, which shed a lurid glow over the scene of the encampment. That night the rain, which had been long threatening, began to fall, and for hours there was a continuous drip drip from the clouds. Nothing, however, could damp the spirits of the party, who made themselves snug in their mi-mi or within the folds of their waterproofs, and really felt as much discomfort from the mosquitoes as from the weather. It may be asked —What possible use can there he for mosquitoes in the heart of Kangaroo Island ? and he who undertakes to answer the question may as well proceed to explain why March flies are so plentiful, and what good object is served by the multiplicity of ants whose hillocks are only a few yards distant from each other. It is a problem that will bear studying. Soon after daylight on Thursday the laborious progress of the buggy-and-four through the woods was resumed. Difficult as had been the course the previous day, through the prevalence of bushes and the sturdy stems of grasstrees, vulgarly, known as blackboys, it now became far more impracticable. At times the rate of progress did not exceed three miles an hour, owing to the constant call for the hatchet to clear a way for the carriage. Let any one who contemplates a trip through the island be advised and eschew buggies-and-four. They create a sensation among the islanders, who rarely see such an equipage, but are a source of infinite discomfort. Better to take a small swag upon a horse's back than to submit to the miseries of a mode of travelling which provides for the conveyance of luxuries, but subjects the passenger to endless inconvenience. The midday halt on Thursday was at a spot named Starvation Camp. Next to this is the joint camp of a line-repairer and a wallaby trapper. The life of the latter is a wild one at the best, but of late years it has become exceptionally so, even as the results of his labours have well-nigh dwindled down to vanishing-point. It is fortunate for him that the demand for hides is so great that the capture of one wallaby a day is sufficient to keep him in necessaries; but it is questionable whether he can now depend upon even one. His snares are set as ingeniously as ever; the tiny fence of brushwood, which the silly marsupial will never jump over so long as he can creep under is as deftly drawn across the wallaby track as ever, but the amount of snaring done is infinitesimal. There are two or three trappers on the island who can scarcely be making salt, and yet they have families to support. It is only too clear that very soon the wallaby, like his bigger brother, the kangaroo, will become extinct.
On Thursday night the end of the land journey—Cape Borda—was reached, and the members of the party once more slept, the sleep of the just upon the beds of civilization. The residents at the little settlement at the cape seem, unlike the residents of most little settlements, to cherish no feuds and no heart burnings. They tranquilly discharge their monotonous duties, gather round them ever increasing flocks of children and goats, and apparently have no ambition to mingle with the great world outside. On Friday morning the excursionists bade adieu to the peaceful little colony, and taking up their station at Harvey's Return—a little cove some three miles from Borda, where the stores for the lighthouse are landed and hauled up the -cliff—patiently awaited the arrival of the Lady Diana. At 3 o'clock the little vessel hove in sight, and with some difficulty, owing to the surf, she was boarded. From the interchange of experiences between the different members of the party which transpired it appeared that the sea contingent had spent a jovial time at the Althorpes, catching ah abundance of fish, listening to the harsh music of the sea birds, visiting the lighthouse, and generally exploring the islands. The reunited party spent two or three hours in fishing with moderate success in the neighbourhood of the Return, and as the daylight died away the homeward trip was commenced. At the Troubridge's short halt took place, but the sea was too rough for fishing, and so the steamer continued on her way, reaching Port Adelaide by half past 11, and there landing eight excursionists, who one and all confessed that they had thoroughly enjoyed themselves during their week's trip to Kangaroo Island.
To those practical souls who judge of every thing by actual results, it will be a satisfaction to know that the trip has already borne fruit. The Commissioner of Crown Lands does not entertain so favourable an opinion of the character of the Kangaroo Island country as does the Surveyor-General, who has visited every part of it ; but he has seen enough to induce him to order the survey of a fresh hundred — that of Menzies, embracing al he land avail able for agricultural settlement in the strip of country lying between Point Marsden on the north and D'Estree Bay on the south. This will embrace some sixty thousand acres, including the rich flats skirting tho Cygnet. A township is to be laid out on the west side -of the river near a place known as the Pinery, and it is to be hoped that it will prove more attractive than Sapphire Town. Should a population spring up there, as seems most likely, the necessity of providing educational facilities for the children of settlers . at Kingscote and on the Cygnet, which even now is urgent, will become imperative. It is probable that, the Minister of Education will shortly he appealed to on the subject, and the appeal ought not to be made in vain.GENERAL NEWS. (1880, March 13). Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904), p. 6. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article160130187