Island Pilgrimages - Holmesby pp. 24-27

At the first meeting of the Association it was realised that few of those present had any-previous firsthand experience of the present day Kangaroo Island, although they knew about it from the experiences of their ancestors in the Island's early days. It was agreed that the best way to correct this omission was to have a pilgrimage to Kingscote at the first opportunity. And this took place only four months later when 45 members, led by President Dene Cordes, travelled to Kingscote on 31st July 1983, four days after the 147th Anniversary of the first landing. It was not very congenial weather but most were suitably attired against the conditions.

In the short time available (it was only a little over three months) to satisfactorily arrange travel and tour arrangements was a masterpiece of organization, and no doubt Dene's intimate knowledge of the Island's features was a bonus. Secretary, Pam Vincent's, skill ensured there were no problems, especially in arranging plane bookings spread over three plane times. The group was able to see for the first time some of those features which, to them, had previously been hearsay. There were the Mulberry Tree, the 1936 Memorial to the Pioneers which had been unveiled then by Mrs Margaret MacLagan, a grand-daughter of Thomas Beare (at the time two of his children were still alive 75 years after his death), the Pioneer Cemetery, and those "First Sites":- Landing Place, Jetty, Quarry, Well, and Post Office. Available, also, was a visit to the Pioneer Museum at Hope Cottage. A bus tour to Seal Bay after lunch was a highlight and a great new experience for most. Opportunity was also taken to meet some of the local people who may be involved with the 1986 celebrations.

On this historic visit all Office-bearers were present. ... Adelaide columnist, Des Colquhoun, was invited to join us and he proved to be a friendly and pleasant companion. On his return he used his column to publicise the aims of the Association and the pleasures of the Island in his usual laconic and humorous manner.

Perhaps our largest incursion on the Island was for the 1986 Re-enactment which is described elsewhere and which included a number of descendants who were not members but had family affiliations with those who were.

The next mass visit was again in celebratory mood to recognise the 155th Anniversary of the landing and took place on the weekend of 25 July, 1991, when 44 hardy souls set out on a two-day bus and ferry trip. We are gratefully indebted to Edna Bayfield for a detailed record of the event. It was important enough to entice the Governor of the time, Dame Roma Mitchell, to attend for a Flag Raising ceremony. She was adequately protected by the presence of HMAS Aware and its crew, selected members of which performed the actual raising of the Union Jack. The conditions on Flagstaff Hill were anything but congenial, with very strong winds coming direct from the Antarctic. President Bruce Williams read a declaration, the content of which was considered to be similar to that delivered by the First Manager of the SA Company, Samuel Stephens, soon after the original landing. We were exceedingly grateful for Her Excellency's stoic acceptance of the weather!

After the flagraising was completed, she joined the party to the Old Mulberry Tree and was an interested spectator at the replanting of an infant tree by Ruth Mclnerney assisted by Kingscote Mayor Judith Morris. This was near the same place as the one planted in 1986 but which had been damaged. The next stop was the old Reeves Cottage where an interior inspection was followed by a climb to the top of the Bluff by a few brave enough! Then to the Kingscote Museum to appreciate the restoration carried out on early types of farm machinery, and including a climb up the spiral stairway to the top of the reclaimed lighthouse. There was also a complete still for distilling eucalyptus oil from one species of the Island's unique trees, Eucalyptus cneorifolia. That evening at Penneshaw there was an official dinner at which the Dudley Council's chairman, Mr Brian Willson, entertained as the guest speaker with a precis of the history of some Island idendities. Next day (Sunday) the bus headed for the Cape Willoughby lighthouse and the Antechamber Bay homestead of Patron Ian Gilfillan's property where a plaque to Nat Thomas and his second wife Sophia was unveiled by Nat's descendants Adrian Waller and Mavis Golder. Finally to the Chapman River for a picnic lunch, a quick tour of American River, and then to the ferry for home.

Soon after this trip in 1991 President Bruce Williams and Vice-President Dene Cordes decided to take on the might of the Legislative Council to establish once and for all the correct position of Kangaroo Island in South Australian history. The actual presentation of our case was to be left in the capable political hands of our Patron Ian Gilfillan, Leader of the Democrats in the Legislative Council. For a description of the proceedings see the chapter entitled "The Birthplace Wrangle" and the result. You will see that while we were unsuccessful in being allowed the "Birthplace" title for Kingscote at least we were assured that no other place could do so! And further we are allowed to describe Kingscote as the "First European Settlement."

Of course this called for much celebration both here and on the Island. The "Islander" newspaper made much of the decision and our people met at the Stephens vault (reported elsewhere) for the first of a number of gatherings. Several months later, arrangements were in hand for an official celebration which would be held at Kingscote and on the next Settlement Day, 27 July, 1992. This was well organised and involved most of the Island's community organisations and schools and was the best attended by local citizens in which we took part. The official party which gathered near the Old Tree was highlighted by the impressive presence of the State Governor Dame Roma Mitchell AC DBE, the Kingscote Mayor, Mrs Janice Kelly, Chairman of the Dudley Council, KIPA President Bruce Williams, and KIPA Patron Ian Gilfillan MLC who had the onerous task of guiding our cause through the Parliament via the Legislative Council. Dame Roma completed the official proceedings by unveiling a memorial plaque in honour of the decision.

The Beare family, following a suggestion at an early meeting, decided to upgrade the vault containing the remains of Lucy Ann Beare who died in 1837. The sides and top had deteriorated somewhat and were reconditioned and a concrete block containing a descriptive plaque explaining who she had been was added. The new arrangement was unveiled by Robert Beare in the presence of other direct descendants. Another grave to be marked was that of Sarah Mary, wife of George James Paris, the Telegraph Stationmaster - she died in 1884 aged 35, and was the mother of seven children. Past secretary, Lorus Henderson, is a descendant.

But the schoolchildren livened the day with several re-enactments of early incidents, backed with descriptive, well painted banners depicting events which took place at the original landing, including one showing how little Elizabeth Beare may have been carried ashore by Robert Russell. A student of the Parndana Area School, Sam Bettess, a direct descendant of Thomas Beare handed a parchment speech, which had been relayed from the school, to the Governor while another raised the flag at Flagstaff Hill. Other KIPA members to attend were Vice-President Dene Cordes, Ruth Mclnerney and Irene Schmidt, the latter two representing the Kleemann Family which was among the first batch of German settlers in establishing the settlement. A special guest was Mr Brian Nadilo the Mayor of Glenelg, demonstrating the cordial relations between the two Councils which was made official by both mayors signing "A Memorandum of Co-operation" which states in part:

"Be it Hereby Agreed that the Corporation of the City of Glenelg and the District Council of Kingscote enter into a Relationship of Co-operation in which both Councils recognise the Historic Importance of both Kingscote and Glenelg in the establishment of the State of South Australia."

Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent, who was on an official visit to Australia in the early months of 1995, had included South Australia in her itinerary. We were honoured to be asked by the Premier's Department to arrange a programme for her visit to Kingscote on Easter Saturday. A small party of 13 members represented us but it would have been larger had not the Fast Ferry service been cancelled due to a late breakdown. ...

Our mission was to entertain the Duchess with information on the part Kangaroo Island played in the formation of the Colony of South Australia and in particular to the significance of the Reeves Point Area. Dene Cordes had prepared a brief but very informative Address of Welcome which he read to the gathering. A copy has been forwarded to her Royal Highness signed by Dene, President Bob Beare, and Secretary Loris Henderson. Her appreciation of our involvement was contained in the following letter to President Beare:

"Dear Mr Beare,

The Duchess of Kent has asked me to write and thank you and all members of the Kangaroo Island Pioneers Association for so warmly welcoming her at the beginning of her unique and memorable day on Kangaroo Island. Her Highness was overwhelmed by the welcome she was given by all she was privileged to meet and is so looking forward to developing her camera film so that she can see the photograph she took of all the descendants under the Mulberry Tree.

What a wonderful way for Her Royal Highness to remember a unique and thoroughly enjoyable day. A visit to South Australia would not have been quite complete without seeing something of the Island - such a vital role do you play in the history of the State.

Once again thank you for kindly welcoming Her Royal Highness on such a special day."

Signed by the Lady-in-waiting.

(We had hoped to be given a copy of the photograph she took but although we asked for one it was not forthcoming).

Past President Dene Cordes accepted the responsibility of organising the 1996 Settlement Day expedition which was to be held over two days commencing on the Friday 26th July. At the same time he and Neil Waller were attempting to induce the Government to change the name of a small cape on the Island which has been acclaimed as the spot where Captain Flinders landed in 1802 and which has been called Kangaroo Point. They feel that justice would be served if the original name, Cape Delambre, bestowed by Commodore Baudin, replaced it.

However, Dene found time to prepare an impressive schedule of things to do for the pilgrimage to the 160th Anniversary of the landing and it attracted seventy people including members of the Association, Friends of Old Government House, Cordes Family Club, Rosenthal (Rosedale) Cemetery Trust, and the Wilkin Family Club. Fine weather on the Saturday (perhaps to the surprise of some, July considered to be cold, windy and wet) augured well for the trip, the first official event being the raising of the Union Jack and the presentation of the Young Achiever Award to Robyn Smythe; this was arranged bythe Kingscote Council.

Following the Council's contribution, President Robert Beare gave a brief history of the first landing and some of the experiences of the first settlers as reported in a special Centenary issue of the "Advertiser" on 1st September 1936, entitled "Turbulent Island Baptism".

The KIPA contingent then moved to the Pioneer Cemetery to perform dedication ceremonies of plaques marking graves, although the actual locations of some are unknown. One of the first which could be called "in absentia" was to recognise those intending settlers who had died at sea in ships of the "First Fleet". This plaque was donated wholly by our Patron, Milke Beare, although there was no member of the Beare family involved. A suggestion from Edna Bayfield, it was unveiled by Milke's niece Elizabeth Monaghan who lives in Victoria.

The original Calnan family was recognised in the names of Jeremiah Calnan who had died at Encounter Bay only a few weeks after his arrival, and his son John. Max Taylor, who had carried out considerable research into the family, unveiled the plaque and a posy was laid by Maxine Mason.

The party then moved to Reeves Point where a plaque was unveiled by Dene Cordes in memory of the first unofficial Post Mistress, Charlotte Martha Reeves, her husband Samuel Reeves and their son, Augustus, the first official Postmaster. A posy was laid by Marilyn Florance. We were indebted to Australia Post for covering the cost of the plaque and its installation.

In the afternoon, members assembled at the Kingscote Cemetery to unveil a plaque in memory of an old pioneer resident, Jane Thompson, who supposedly had been the oldest on the Island at 104 years but later proved to be 87, the confusion in cemetery records coming from the fact that she had died in 1904. The plaque was unveiled by Olga Ayres (nee Chapman) and Vickie Chapman and a posy from Elizabeth Taylor. Funds had been raised by the Chapman family in memory of their ancestor.

Members and connections of the Reeves family then gathered at the grave sites of their ancestors. On behalf of his son Dr Gregory Reeves Keene, Jack Keene unveiled a plaque in memory of his late wife Lorna Reeves Keene and a floral tribute by Marilyn Florance. Jack also unveiled a plaque and placed a posy in memory of Arthur Reeves. The Reeves family had been responsible for the costs of the plaques. After the completion of these family tributes the plaques were blessed by the Rev Keith George, (a Calnan descendant).

The daylight activities were completed by a visit to the Kingscote Museum at Hope Cottage where our people were welcomed by members of the KI National Trust and enjoyed examining the various farming and other items which had been restored as well as the memorabilia and treasures in the Cottage.

Our members were accommodated in the Ozone Hotel and Seaview Motel, and enjoyed a fine Settlement Day Dinner in the evening and an enlightening talk by Guest Speaker Gabriel Crowley on her investigation and research into the future of the Glossy Black Cockatoo which is now only found in limited numbers on the Island. The Dance Committee of the Rural Counselling Service was the organiser of the Settlement Day Dance and the diners at the Dinner had generously "passed the hat around" for a donation to the Committee. Seven of our party attended the dance and handed over the $250 which had been collected. In accepting the donation the Committee in thanking the diners stated that "their generosity will greatly assist a vital service to the community".

Most of the members joined an organised bus tour of the western end of the Island on the Sunday taking in firstly the St Albans Church where Mrs Fay Davidson gave a talk on the history of the church. On the way to Stokes Bay the group visited the historic Wisanger School and after morning tea at Stokes Bay the members were frustrated by the high tide in attempting to walk through the rock crevice to see the delightful little beach beyond. Then to the top of Constitution FEU to view the landscape of Snelling Beach and Middle River before moving on to the Gosse Sporting Club where some of its members took many of our party down the winding road to Western River Cove. Lunch was taken at the club after which the bus went on to the Cape Borda Lighthouse for the last stop just before the weather reverted to its usual July pattern. A very enjoyable two days thanks to a tremendous input by Dene Cordes. Subsequently he was rightly critical of the lack of recognition the Association received at the hands of some of the Island's organisations and officials even, in one case, of remarks "on the verge of libel!" (The above account of the 1996 visit was taken from a report by Loris Henderson.)

Apart from these group visits to the Island several of our Presidents have made official trips to Kingscote at the invitation of the Kingscote Council to discuss coming events in which both organisations were to be involved.