5. Amusement

Express and Telegraph (Adelaide, SA : 1867 - 1922), Saturday 3 March 1906, page 3


(By Ethel A. Bates.) Part 5.

Kangaroo Island is, to say the least, exceedingly dull as far as amusements are concerned. The older inhabitants refuse to lend their limbs to agility or their spirits to pleasure; going from bad to worse, they have apparently sunk into a listless apathy, from which money-making—an earthquake shock—a law case, or something of a like nature, are the only means whereby to rouse them.

Concerts or entertainments displaying any skill are rare occurrences, and it is a noticeable fact they islanders date everything from the last tea meeting, One often hears remarks after this style:—"Oh, when are you having your teeth drawn?" and to strangers the incomprehensible reply is, "About two months and three days after our festival," or something of a like nature.

In summer-time the younger generation arouse themselves, and then it is that their jaded spirits derive recreation from driving. Every Sabbath vehicles of every variety and description, from bullock-drays down to dog-carts, can be seen during the preparation of harnessing, and later loaded with townspeople eager for a breath of country air, toiling up the arduous hills preparatory to leaving the town. Young gents, each looking gay and resplendent with speckled suits, and each bent on outshining the other, can be seen whipping up their horses, the young ladies whom they wish to impress smiling benignly by their sides.

Dancing is greatly indulged in, especially at Kingscote, where it is the leading amusement. At Penneshaw, however, we do not drive it to an unreasonable extent; albeit our local missionary considers it is carried to excess here also, and that unless strict measures are taken it will completely deaden spiritual life.

A morbid interest is taken in funerals, and sometimes I am inclined to the belief that there are some who look forward to these events as occasions when they can once more don their best "Sunday" dress; but be that as it may, it is a noticeable feature that goodly crowds assemble to witness events of this kind. Here, as in most lonely country places, everyone goes to church; not always, I am fain to admit, so much through a sense of worship as a desire to see and be seen.

Recently a spirit of progress has taken possession of the islander; this is showing itself in many new developments. In Penneshaw there has recently been established a first-class tennis club, with an ever-increasing muster roll. We have also a strong rifle club, together with a small-bore club, of which several of our young ladies are members. Some of these are proving themselves skilled markswomen.

A remark passed by an outback settler would lead one to believe that the islanders' opportunities of amusement are somewhat limited, or else that it takes little to amuse the foolish. The following remark was over-heard recently:—"As long as I've got 3d. in my pocket and a smile from a girl, I'm happy." I trust readers will not think this a fair sample of the islander's idea of happiness.