Kangaroo Island in 1843




SIR - I exceedingly regret to find that a cargo of bark has been procured from Kangaroo Island ; and the more so, as it is well known this article cannot be obtained in that locality without destroying the whole plant, thus at once destroying the natural fences of the land. The parties procuring bark surely cannot be aware, that the whole tree, or bush, of the mimosa is available as an article of tannin, and the tan extract therefrom would, in London or Sydney, realize a good price.

I beg also to allude to the articles of grindstones, with which that island abound. I apprehend, that if a few of these stones were exposed for sale at a moderate price at the doors of our ironmongers, a ready sale would be effected-an article, I need scarcely say, in great request in the bush, and by not a few persons in the city.

It has often struck me, that a most important improvement might be effected by a " cross " (to use a breeding term) with the mutton-bird (met with in that vicinity in prodigious numbers) and our domestic pigeon, as the mutton-bird, when killed and opened, very much resembles an extraordinary fat mutton chop, whereas, our pigeons are destitute of this desiderátum. Could we once domesticate these wanderers, they would become, with their eggs, a valuable article of export; indeed, I very much question if our domestic poultry might not be much improved by the same means.

Among other minor productions to he found in a state of nature on the island, is the article of pipe-clay: this, as a renovator for our ceilings and cottages, far exceeds anything similar, as it is of that nature as to require no size, in using thus the unpleasantness of adhesion to our garments is avoided : this, if brought into the city, might be disposed of to advantage. Millstones, we are informed by Mr Menge, are in abundance on its southern shore, and on its northern shore is the material for lime in abundance.

In the woods are found the finest poles in the world, and when our hop plantations are formed, we must look to Kangaroo Island for a support for the vines. The salt in the lagoons is as fine as any in the world. The fish on its shores are in myriads. The principal trees appear to be a species of camphor, and would, there is no doubt, if properly managed, produce the drug in abundance. All the vegetation is highly inflammable, which accounts for the facility with which the island was nearly cleared of its kangaroos twenty-three years since, for it is a fact, that however green the wood is, the more rapid is the combustion.

The naturalist will also here find great scope for his talents on the beach or sand spit, which he can freely explore at the receding of the tide. The woods abound with the most splendid specimens of lizards and guana [goanna?] as also of the insect tribe.

A short inspection of the shrubs will satisfy the most sceptical of the quality of the land : in the vicinity of the hills, on the western side, land has been cultivated to some extent by two Americans, until "ardent spirits" became their master, and undid the labour of years. Leading to this land is a creek, of fresh water , its mouth is nearly parallel with Althorp's Island ; it is scarcely perceptible until well in land to effect this a good sea boat is necessary, as this is an iron-bound coast, and very similar to that of Dorsetshire. Seals play about here in great numbers on the rocks, and a sealing station on this spot, I have no doubt, would realize the most sanguine expectations, and at the termination of the whaling at Encounter Bay, something might be effected, as the whales are often seen playing in this vicinity, and come here to calve.

There are other advantages attending this island, but having already trespassed on your time and space of your publication, I must apologise, and beg to subscribe myself,

Your very obliged,


CORRESPONDENCE. CAPABILITIES OF KANGAROO ISLAND. (1843, October 17). Southern Australian (Adelaide, SA : 1838 - 1844), p. 3. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71618215

Five months later, the same (anonymous) correspondent wrote again, apparently frustrated that no one was listening to him:



SIR - I again respectfully call the attention of our land-owners, through the columns of your widely-circulated journal, to the dilapidated state of their fences, and to the fleeting season of sowing, and for procuring a lasting fence by means of the prickly mimosa, which abounds so plentifully on the South Australian breakwater (Kangaroo Island) the approaching season should by no means be lost sight of.

The wallaby tribe, we hear, have very materially increased since the first settlement was broken up, and several kangaroos have made their appearance in the island.

A party have also availed themselves of the hints thrown out some time since by myself, relative to the adjacent isles, a flock of sheep being just purchased for shipment to Thistle Island, the owners having a small craft for their own use.

I beg to call your attention, once more to the article of pipe-clay, which, among others, abounds in the isle, though not to be purchased in this city at any price ; this article in its natural state will supersede manufactured whiting, which we have hitherto imported.

I most ardently hope that on the return of a party from the island, its natural products will be more fully made known and developed ; and believe me, sir,

Your obedient servant,


KANGAROO ISLAND. (1844, March 22). Southern Australian (Adelaide, SA : 1838 - 1844), p. 2. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71628624