Trip Across Kangaroo Island

South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900),

Thursday 25 November 1886, page 6


[By our Agricultural Editor]

Having received a cordial invitation from Mr. H. Harper, Manager of the Karratta Sheep Station, to revisit that part of Kangaroo Island, I started by the James Comrie from Glenelg to Queenscliffe on Saturday, November 6, accompanied by Mr. J. G. O. Tepper, F.L.S., who had also received an invitation and who had fully equipped himself with the gear and appliances necessary to an entomological and botanical collector. We got away from Glenelg at 9 a.m.— half an hour late— and had a rather rough passage as far as Hog Bay, during which every passenger on board paid Neptune's tolls.

At about 4 p.m. it was found that the landing place at Christmas Cove was too rough, so we put back into Hope Bay, where two boatloads of cargo were landed, with much difficulty and considerable danger to the men in the cargo boat. The little steamer rolled even inside the reef, and the packages in the slings flew across the boat sometimes with terrific force, and the men had to be very smart in getting out of the way, and in seizing the proper moment to lower them into the boat. In landing upon the sandy beach every article must be carried above high-water mark, even though it be half a ton in weight. It can easily be understood what difficulty and even danger there is in the traffic from ship to shore and from shore to ship. At 5.30 we got away from this uncomfortable place, and arrived at Queenscliffe at 8.50 p.m.— distance 25 to to 30 miles— having tea upon the way, but not being able, to fill the void occasioned by our previous efforts.

The jetty at Queenscliffe was all but finished, and we could have laid along side it if a boat had not been in the way. We therefore anchored in the old place, opposite the sandy beach, and were landed by the ship's boats. Upon the beach there is a causeway for landing, built by the loyal inhabitants to enable Her Majesty's representative to land dryshod some months ago upon a notable occasion; but I do not wonder that he refused to avail himself of its advantages and preferring to be taken ashore pickaback by a strong sailor, for the stones are as rough and as slippery as is possible to conceive, and nothing short of a billygoat could traverse it with confidence. Upon the beach we were met by our host and by all the inhabitants and visitors of the town of Queenscliffe, who doubtless would have rung the bells in our honour— only they had none to ring.

We stopped for the night at Anderson's Family Hotel, an Inn of twenty-one rooms, very comfortable and well conducted. The place has improved immensely within the past five years when the passengers to or from Adelaide had to camp upon the beach for days sometimes — cold, wet, and starving, unless they could induce some of the two or three settlers to take compassion upon them. Now they can land upon a jetty, live at a fine hotel, and go out in a yacht fishing, or hire horses and traps and travel to any accessible part of the island.

Next morning we made a rather late start at about 10 o'clock, proceeding as far as Mr. Daw's, J.P., upon the Cygnet River, where we were induced after much urgent entreaty to stay for dinner. Mr. Daw is the possessor of one of the finest farms upon the island, with fine deep pools of fresh water and handsome clumps of trees and shrubs bordering each of the paddocks. The soil is rather sandy, and capable, under good cultivation, of producing everything that the heart of a farmer could desire. It is especially suitable for the growth of root and fodder plants, and for fruits and vegetables ; but as far as I could see, there has been little attention paid to these crops. Close to the house there was a very nice lot of potatoes growing, and about half a mile away there was what appeared to be a fair crop of wheat. There is also a good crop along the river flat. The farm consists of about 440 acres of freehold, and some ' selections' in its vicinity. It is about 5½ miles from Queenscliffe. Oats and barley appear to do best upon these sandy soils, and I have no doubt that with a little manure, alternative crops, and regular cultivation some excellent results would be gained from many thousands of acres of similar soil upon the island.

After enjoying Mr. Daw's hospitality we resumed our journey, and proceeded as far as White Lagoon Station, eastward of Murray's Lagoon. Crossing a mile or so of sandhills we came to a flat piece of country a couple of miles wide, and extending westward for a considerable distance to and along the Cygnet. It is of a rotten nature, very boggy in wet weather, the soil apparently decomposed granite, and densely covered with Melalenca uncinata, Hakeas, and other shrubs. At about 4 miles to our right is a grove of very tall sugar-gums, marking the site of Kinch's farm, once "Governor Whalley's" farm, which he occupied about twenty years before the South Australian Company's Manager (Mr. Stephens) turned him off it. [see letter from W.L.Beare below.] The brothers Kinch have done a deal towards reclaiming the wild bush here, and have entered into a contract with Messrs. Malpas & Little to clear off a portion of the said grove of trees, which it is necessary to do, although it will spoil a very pretty feature in the scenery. It was upon this farm that some splendid hops were grown a year or two since, and Messrs. Kinch have shown that their farm is capable of producing very many crops if only a market could be found for the produce. One of the brothers is an engineer, and has contrived several implements for their special work. One is a stump-extractor, about 2 tons in weight, upon the principle of a scarifier, worked by a numerous team of bullocks, which tears the stumps out of the ground. The brothers have cut down and grubbed many thousands of trees, which had to be burned. There is a splendid lucerne paddock in which a large number of pigs continually reveL They have a field of wheat which stands above the head of an average man, Also a heavy crop of white oats and many other crops in splendid condition.

Proceeding a little further we mount a ridge, from the top of which we gain an extensive view to the northward and eastward, including the Backstairs Passage, Nepean Bay, &c. The soil is very stony, consisting of a dry kind of sandstone, thickly interspersed with quartz, iron stone, and thin shaly slate. It bears every indication of an auriferous country, and extends in a westerly direction nearly as far as Harvey's Return. About 5 or 6 miles to the westward of our road is the Koh-i-noor Gold Mine, in which some excellent 'prospects' have been obtained. This place has given such encouraging signs that one or two people have been working at it for a long time past, and quite recently a ton of ore has been sent to the School of Mines in Victoria for an extended assay or crushing. Further west the country looks still more encouraging, and I think it is very likely that some good payable reefs will yet be found. Silver, copper, and tin also exist in the vicinity— though the latter has yet to be discovered.

At about 6 miles from Daw's, to the left of the track is a chain of fresh-water lagoons, filled with sedges, rushes, 'cutting grass,', and melalencas, and culminating towards the south in a salt lagoon. By a gate near the top of this rise we entered the. Kurratta Run, which extends from here on the margin of the Hundreds of Haines and Menzies, right away to near the Cape Willoughby Lighthouse Reserve, and contains 851 square miles of land — good, indifferent, and worthless — extremely well watered, and rather too much so in winter in some places. From the gate to Birchmore's Lagoon is 4 miles— up and down— with scrub everywhere in sight. The "yuccas," or Tates Grasstree— (Xanthorrhoea Tatei)— are everywhere in bloom upon the country that was burnt last year, the flower-stems rising'to 12 and 14 feet above the 'grass,' which, is again elevated upon : the trunks from 5 to 10 feet. The margin of the burnt country could easily be traced by the flowering 'yuccas,' if by no other means, because there is scarcely one in a thousand in bloom where the scrub was not burntj - but every one is in bloom where it was burnt. Nearly all the plants that were burnt are breaking again into growth, but the burnt sticks stand a long way above the fresh green leaves, and the "grasstrees" stand like a forest of palms upon the desolate-looking hillsides and plateaus. Where the country was burned the year before last the old flower-stems still stand, and it is in these old flower-stems that the ' yucca bees', build their nests. I was determined, if possible, to bring up a "colony" of these bees to Adelaide, but although they are quite numerous, it was not possible, because they are not communistic, or in other words, they do not exist as colonies. The bee cuts a hole through the outer case of the flower-stem and bores a tunnel, generally upwards, about a quarter-inch in diameter and 8 Inches to a foot long. Sometimes a double tunnel will be made. At the top end a little pollen mixed with honey is stored and an egg deposited ; then more pollen and another egg, and so on until about eight to twelve eggs have 'been deposited. When, the grubs emerge from the eggs they begin eating the pollen, and in time go through the usual metamorphoses and finally become perfect. The bee is as large as the English 'bumble bee,' but has a smooth body with a brilliant metallic greenish-blue colour, the thorax black, and the wings a deep blue black. It is armed with a formidable sting, and would be an ugly customer to deal with if it were a 'social' bee like the Ligurians and others that are ''culti-vated." There are several kinds of solitary bees upon the island, one very much resembling the common black bee, and another is extremely common, but is about half the size of a Ligurian and has a nut-brown abdomen and black thorax. They all gather pollen in their leg-baskets, and live upon the nectar of flowers, but, as far as I could discover, do not build combs or store honey.

At Birchmore's Lagoon there is an old chimney, and near to it, but surrounded by scrub, is an exotic pinetree that had been planted by the inhabitant of the cottage that was once attached to the chimney. There are many plants of Dodonaea vixosa, variety attenuata, also growing here, and like the pine they have made luxuriant growth, so that any one looking for the pine would perhaps think that the one has been mistaken for the other. The lagoon is circular, like nearly every lagoon upon the island, and has a great quantity of sedge growing in it. Horses are very fond of this plant when it is in seed, and they get in good condition when feeding upon it. In autumn many of the lagoons become dry, but when holes are sunk in the beds to a depth of 6 or 8 feet very good fresh water is obtained in the clay.

From Birchmore's Lagoon to White Lagoon Station is about 5 miles over poor country, composed of pipeclay, ironstone, nodules, and rough scrub. At the station there is a good improvement in the country, with a teatree swamp upon the right hand, in which there is a permanent supply of water. There is a number of sheds and other adjuncts of a sheep station here, together with a 20 - acre cultivation paddock and what was once a very nice garden, that had been well stocked with fruit -trees of many kinds. The weeds have taken full possession of the garden, and what with weeds, sheep, and horses, the trees have had a bad time of it. I may state here that I saw several sadly neglected gardens on the journey, the former owners of which had been bought out by the previous owners of the Karratta (or Coonatta) Run. There is a very luxuriant garden upon the Harriett, still owned by Mr. Chapman, in which several trees are still growing nicely. In most of them were almonds, peaches, apricots, pears, apples, quinces, olives, grapes, figs, elderberry - trees, and flowers of several kinds, such as roses, fuchsias, lilies, sweet peas, and so on.

The White Lagoon Station once was a farm and small sheep run owned by Mr. Northcote, who appears to have made a comfortable home of it. Around the cultivation paddock had been a brush fence, which has been since burned and upon the site has sprung up a close thicket of narrow-leaf gum (Eucalyptus cneorifolia), 15 to 20 feet high, whilst not a single specimen has grown within the enclosure. This is a curious evidence of the vitality of the seed, which must have had a terrible scorching in the fire. It has been constantly noticed that our native shrubs spring up most abundantly after a fire, and only then, and it appears that the Hakeas, Melaleucas, Callistemons, &c., must retain their seeds for very many years or else be subjected to a fiery ordeal before they can germinate.

We stopped for the night at White Lagoon Station, which is unoccupied except that a boy had been living there for several months by himself, and barely earning ' tucker' by catching wallabies and selling the skins for tea and flour. He has now obtained employment elsewhere, but happened to be at the house, and appeared to be a sturdy self-reliant lad. His must have been a dull life all by himself, and a good deal of dogged perseverance was needed to impel him to walk from here to Queenscliffe, and to carry back his flour and tea in winter and summer.

On Monday we started early, and at 4 miles from White Lagoon came to Hawk's Nest, passing a large sedgy lagoon about a mile from our starting-place. There is a large well of splendid water in the centre with an immense iron caldron beside it. This was once a whaler's try pot which had been left at Vivonne Bay. The lagoon is sometimes so full of water and so deep that a good-sized yacht might easily be sailed in it, and over the well, trypot, and all. Hawk's Nest is the name of a very pretty grassy spot, where there is a two-roomed house and what was once a nice garden, with tall sugar-gums close by. There is water in a well not far away, and also in claypans. There are still a few vegetables growing here, the result of seed self-sown from year to year, and the flowers and fruit-trees are struggling bravely but hopelessly against the weeds and the animals.

Murray's Lagoon, just beyond, is 9 miles in circumference, rather longer than wide; is brackish, and surrounded with several kinds of teatree. On the rising ground is the prevailing mixture of shrubs— prickly and otherwise, but chiefly prickly. At the base of the elevations and in places on the bottom of the flat there are bare patches of indurated gneisaic schists, quartzites, and sand stones. There were a good many swans, ducks, &c, upon the lagoon, and spurwing plovers on the shore. There appears to be a considerable tract of good agricultural land in this neighbourhood, and I have no doubt that at some future time there will be a number of farmers located upon the spot. From Hawk's Nest to Mount Pleasant is about 9 to 10 miles undulating country, fairly good upon the whole, but very scrubby. At one place we passed through a fine lot of sugar-gums, upon very fair soil. We reached Mount Pleasant at about midday, and stopped an hour to rest the horses and 'swing the billy.'

(To be continued.)

TRIP ACROSS KANGAROO ISLAND. (1886, November 25). South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), p. 6.

South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), Thursday 2 December 1886, page 6


[By Our Agricultural Editor.]


Mount Pleasant was a fancy name given to a very pretty spot by Mrs. Price, the better-half of the former occupier of the house and garden which still exists, although in a somewhat dilapidated state. There is no mountain anywhere near, but there is a mound or slight rise, crowned with a few mallees (Eucalyptus incrassata), one of which was in bloom, and was a rich mine of entomological treasure to my companion, who filled his bottles and boxes with flies, wasps, beetles, bugs, bees, and the like, the bees being of the solitary sorts, though numerous. I may as well relate here a good joke against my friend, which occurred at Queensclifie. It was early in the morning after our arrival, and with characteristic zeal he was up and out seeking his prey. Part of his paraphernalia consisted of a large umbrella, which he held inverted under the bushes and shook the branches vigorously at the same time. All the beetles, spiders, and the like will drop at the slightest alarm, and being caught in the open, parapline would be transferred to the bottle containing cyanide of potassium, where in a few seconds their troubles would be ended for ever. There is a very zealous and alert officer of the Police Force at Queenscliffe who was also up betimes in the mornlng, and as he had never been out with the field Naturalists he could not well understand the movements of my friend, but hid behind a clump of mallee and took observations, at the same time making all preparations for a capture if necessary. After about half an hour of espionage he concluded that the poor fellow was harmless, and let him remain at his occupation whilst he made some enquiries at the hotel as to who he was, where he came from, what was his mania, and so forth. He was soon satisfied upon all these points, and, to make amends for his unjust suspicions as to my friend's sanity, did all in his power to help in the work of enriching the Museum, and presented him with a rare marsupial mouse, a bird's nest ornamented with printed and written paper by the bird in a most curious manner, and several other interesting objects.

Within half a mile to the westward is a creek, one of the principal tributaries to the Eleanor, running through a wide, rich alluvial flat, upon which there are a great number of fine tall sugar-gums, not of large diameter. The gums are quite numerous all along the bed or valley of this creek, and the soil is capable of growing almost anything that might be demanded of it. There is another garden at this half - mile distance, also cultivation paddocks of 3, 4, and 10 acres, with hay upon them, but as the seed was only harrowed in upon a lot of weeds it was a very poor crop in each case. The flat along the course of the creek would be almost a swamp in very wet weather unless it were drained and banked against the overflow. The Eleanor has more than one or two sources, but there are two which may be called main sources, and it discharges into Vivonne Bay about 2 miles to the eastward of where the Harriet discharges into the same bay. The creek was not running at the time, and some of the waterholes were salt or brackish, whilst the others ware beautifully fresh. For some time before we arrived at Mount Pleasant we had noticed a most beautiful flower in small patches, of a creeping nature, like a verbena, but the blossoms were single, as pansies are, and of a lovely light-blue colour, with a yellow eye, and each about as big as a shilling. At Mount Pleasant, however, these new Scaveolas (for such they proved to be) were quite abundant, some of the plants covering a foot square, and each plant possessing an immense number of blossoms. There was a considerable variety of shades of blue in these, but one single plant had flowers of a rich salmon colour. This Scaveola, I am sure, would be an acquisition to any garden.

A few days before our visit an unfortunate sewing machine agent had made Mount Pleasant in an endeavour to reach Hog Bay, being about 30 miles off his track, and I heard he again got adrift after finding himself lost. There was little to be wondered at in this, for the tracks are very indistinct, and the scrub is dense, even where it is low. After an hour and a half spell at Mount Pleasant (which, like all the other dwellings, is not inhabited), we resumed our journey, making the Eleanor Crossing at a long 6 miles. There are some pinetrees here (Gallitris) and sheaoaks (Casuarina quadrivalvis). The scrub sheaoak (C. distyla) is very common all over the island, but the other is very uncommon. The water here is brackish in summer, but in the wells it is quite fresh. At a short distance to the south are some sandhills, and at the foot of the sandhills are boreholes, which were put down at the expense of the Government many years ago in the vain hope of finding coal. The mining captain who conducted the work passed through what he called a 'petrified forest' at about 20 feet, but the 'trunks and branches' that he found were only calcareous deposits upon the roots of plants which are quite common in all sandy soils near the coast of Kangaroo Island.

The coast along here is not cliffy, but inclines gradually from the interior to the shore, except where the high shifting sand dunes occur. Further on to the eastward and westward the coast is bounded by high cliffs, and for some distance inland the surface is covered with an almost continuous sheet of hard limestone, in the fissures and holes of which the plants usual to coast regions find a precarious footing, lying flat upon the rocks and inclining their heads away from the sea.

From the crossing of the Eleanor to the Harriet is about 4 miles. Here we found a substantial log bridge, designed and erected under the supervision of Mr. H. Wood, an architect to fame unknown perhaps, but a benefactor to all travellers who have to cross this awkward and dangerous spot. There is a house, garden, paddock, &c., here, and the place belongs to Mr. Chapman, being the only spot in the whole 861 square miles of Karratta which is not included in the big run.

At a distance of 2 miles is the shipping place at Vivonne Bay, and up to the bridge the creek is navigable for row boats, the distance by water being about 3 miles. The water is good and is permanent, and some very nice little farms might be pegged out In the vicinity if selection before survey were allowed. The great fault that has been found with land surveys is that the patches ot really good land have been cut so as to make four small corners to as many blocks of otherwise worthless land.

There used to be a whaling station at Vivonne Bay, and many relics of the old industry remain to this day upon the beach. From here we could see the gorge in the high limestone and sandhills through which the Stunsail Boom River discharges. Between the mouth of the Harriet and the Eleanor upon the beach the granite rock is disclosed, and at intervals along the coast, as far at least as Cape de Coudie, the granite shows up, generally beneath hard limestone known as travertine. There is an exposure of slate in places between the Harriet and Eleanor, and inland the granite is covered up with from 40 to 60 feet of limestone, so I was told. A good many people believe that there is tin in the locality. There are some good reefs of quartz in this neighbourhood, with slate, ironstone, steatite, and other rocks. It as a very likely looking spot for gold, I think. At Vivonne Bay quite recently Messrs. Malpas & Little landed a sawmill and a lot of goods and material, made good track up to Karratta, and then, like the King of France with all his men, shipped the mill back again, taking it to Kinch's Farm, upon the Cygnet.

Continuing our tracks we proceeded to Karratta Station, distant 12 miles from the Harriet, over undulating country, as scrubby as ever. The tops of the rises consist of ironstone, nodules, and angular quartz in great quantity, with a little sandy conglomerate with iron. Granite exists beneath at 60 to 100 feet probably. Towards the coast there is a good depth of limestone upon the granite. For about 2 miles before reaching Karratta we proceeded over an elevated plateau of rather rotten ground — that is, in winter. It was a good deal cut up into ruts, where the drays had been hauled off the soft ground into places still softer. The soil appears to be largely calcareous, with a free admixture of sand of a quartzitic character, and a deal of the vegetation consists hereof two or three species of sedges. The last half mile is rather downhill, over a good natural road, to the Stunsail Boom River, where the Karratta Head Station is situated. The former owner called it 'Coonnatta,' but as the small sheep farmers and wallaby-hunters were bought out the whole run was named Karratta. There were also a great many places known as 'The White Lagoon,' but Mr. Harpur distinguishes only the one east ward of Murray's Lagoon by that name, and the station there is known as the White Lagoon Station. At Karratta, and for about 4 miles of its course there are a great many fine sugar-gums, with an average diameter of about 2 feet at 6 feet from the ground. They are very sound, and have quite a thin bark. Probably 1,500 trees of that size could be selected. There are scarcely any saplings, as usual throughout the island, nor will there ever be so long as the practice of burning the scrub every three or four years is continued. Nearly every tree is less or more injured in the butt by fire, though at a short distance up the wood is as sound as a bell. There are numerous deep waterholes in the creek or 'river,' as it is called, and lampreys, leeches, and galaxias — native trout, or slipperies, or Iongfish, or butterfish, common to all creeks upon the mainland — are abundant. The pools are well stocked with a variety of aquatic plants, and the margins with shrubs of many kinds. Whilst sauntering very quietly by myself along the creek I saw a pair of animals of a dark -brown colour, about 16 inches total length, of which a sharp-pointed tail formed about a third of the length, chasing each other along the margin and in the water. The scrub was too dense to make out exactly what they were, but I could hear them and see the ripples in the water for fully an hour whilst waiting and watching motionless for their reappearance. I have seen many hundreds of water-moles (platypus) and water-rats, but never any thing answering this description. Mr. J. G. O. Tepper also saw a similar animal for an instant. It is strange that no one about the station, and no one upon the island of whom I enquired, could remem ber ever having seen similar animals. A good many nice little farm blocks could be picked out along the course of the Stunsail Boom River, or, better still, fruit and vegetable gardens. At about 3 miles (by road) down the river it is navigable for a rowboat to the bar at the mouth. There would be no possibility of getting into or out of the river, as the breakers are very heavy. The cliffs are inaccessible from seaward, presenting a perpendicular wall to the eastward, but to westward there is a small beach and a place where the river formerly broke through. It was here that the tin ore was found about two years since. At about half a mile up the river from the beach the channel is from 15 to 30 feet deep and about a chain wide, with great numbers of bream and native herring shut in by the bar below. The bed is precipitous on both banks, but there are some nice flats on the banks, and in one place there was a good garden in which some fig trees and a few other fruit-trees still exist. It was upon this part of the river that the sealers' huts mentioned by Sutherland once existed, and there still remain traces of what might have been those huts. At one or two spots along the lower part of the river the granite crops out, as it does also at the beach, but the high hills on the coast and the clifis consist of hard limestone to a depth probably of 200 to 300 feet.

At about 6 miles northward from Karratta there are two remarkable hills, named Mounts Taylor and Stockdale recently, but known as The Nobs before. They consist of limestone exactly similar to that of the coast, in one case at least washed into caves, and with evidences of a beach at the foot. On the north side of these mounts there is a swamp, in which salt water is still existent, with schistose rock, then further over is slate, and still further quartz and ironstone upon the rise. Upon the south side of the mounts first comes limestone declivity, then fresh-water morass, then granite outcrop rising on to limestone, and then a sandy soil. The scrub between Karratta and The Nobs is rather of a stunted character, except in the deep valleys, which serve as feeders to the creek. There are Banksias ornata and marglnata, scrub sheaoaks, dwarf mallees of various kinds, stunted stringybarks, hakeas, grasstrees, Eucalyptus cosmophylla, &c, but grass there is none. This is very strange, especially as it was here and to the north-eastward that Captain Sutherland said that he crossed extensive grassy plains. That statement cost three or four valuable men to lose their lives.

The whole country from Queenscliffe to Cape de Coudie, where I went a few days afterwards, was thickly covered with flowers of many kinds, the names of which are as Greek to me. Mr. Tepper gave me a ''straight tip' in respect to some of the most remarkable of them, amongst them being Prostranthera spinosa, known to the islanders as "The Wild Irishman." The flowers are lilac pink, and even white, but the plant is a terror to those who carelessly sit down upon it— especially if it be a dry one, as I can aver from practical experience. A patient friend arid a pair of tweezers is then much required.

There are innumerable. other prickly shrubs, such as the Acacia armata—(K.I. hedge)-— Pulteneas, Davieaias, Calocephalus, Brownii (a yellow spiny plant, which dries and keep its colour), Petrophila multisecta (with a cone of yellow flowers in a spinous head), Isopogon ceratophyllus (with a red spiny head), the holly-leaved Grevillea, and fifty others. One of the flowers that was most conspicuous was the Londonia aurea (or Behrii) of a most chaste yellow colour. The splendid Fringe Lily (Thysanotis dichatomus) was very abundant, and as many as a dozen flowers were counted upon a single stem. The rich pure blue flowers of the Patersonia glauca were not abundant except at about 2 miles south of Karratta, but the equally rich blue of the Sisyrhynchinm cyaneum were found in many places. The beautiful pink of the Boronia Edwardsii was common all through the trip, but towards Cape de Coudie it seemed to be very floriferous. There is another species of Boronia upon the island which is quite rare. The native mignonette (Stackhousia) was abundant in some parts, as was also the minute Helichrysum concifolium, like a white Xeranthemum, and a very dwarf white bushy Pimelea mlcrocephala. The numerous-stamened Lhotzkia was one of the commonest shrubs in most places, but the bell-like pink Tetratheca erictifolia was found only under the wings of other shrubs. The only scented flower that I noticed was the Comespermum patens, a tall bluish white flower; thickly clustered upon a terminal spike. A good many sorts of Prostranthera exist, besides the 'Wild Irishman,' but they are not spiny, and their long tubular flowers are very handsome — one is red, another scarlet, and yet another is green or a greenish blue. An almost similar red flower is the Adenanthera sericens, but the leaves of the plant are soft like silk, and fold closely to the stem, which branches like a candelabrum. This is the only shrub that horses will eat upon the island, and they seem to be very fond of it. The large orange-red pea-shaped flowers of Gompholobium minus were very conspicuous at intervals, and occasionally we were startled by the appearance of the handsome blue flowers of Cheiranthera volubilis, a climber first noticed on the road to the Nobs, but seen several times afterwards. The curious woolly greenish - white bracts of the Spyridium in several varieties are common from end to end of the land. There is a dwarf Hakea with white flowers which was just a mass of blooming. The Aster Huegelii in pale purple, dark purple, and almost white, turned up in patches at frequent intervals. Dilwynia floribunda was also pretty common. Perhaps, the most gorgeous flowers of the whole were the Callistemons, which in some places— in swampy creeks— comprised nearly the whole vegetation. The rich, crimson bottiebrush flowers cannot be described. The Melaleucas were also in flower in several varieties, and they seemed to be a favourite resort for the blowflies, which swarmed about the trees like bees about a hive. We saw very few Correas, but of Pimeleas there were probably at least six varieties— one (P. flava) being yellow and another of enormous size and great beatify. Of Grevillea at least five species were found in flower.

These are only a few of the most noticeable and common of the flowers that we saw. Mr. Tepper must have collected at least 600 sorts of flowering shrubs and plants during the trip, I think. One of the most remarkable was a species of liverwort, a plant of a vivid velvety green colour, growing as a single leaf upon the soil, closely adherent thereto, but with little circular eight ribbed processes growing numerously upon ts surface, about the size of a shilling and an inch in height, upon a semitransparent greenish white stem.

(To be continued.)

TRIP ACROSS KANGAROO ISLAND. (1886, December 2). South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), p. 6.

Parts of this article have been reproduced on our webpage Botany

Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904), Saturday 11 December 1886, page 9


[By our Agricultural Editor.]


There is good fishing and hunting in the neighbourhood of Karratta for a patient man. In the river where the brackish water commences there are bream and other fish, besides ducks, swans, and other waterfowl. By-the-way, one of Mr. Harpur's sons and I managed to catch four cygnets after about two hours' chase in a rowboat. In the scrub there are wallabies in plenty, but the scrub is altogether too thick for shooting. Parrots and other birds are plentiful amongst the tall trees higher up, and amongst the thick jungle where three or four creeks join in the flat to form the Stunsail Boom River there are wild pigs. One of the hands upon the station used to go out on Sunday meditating, aided with the services of the station gun, and he frequently came home laden with choice morsels of pork. Upon the coast at the mouth of the river there are rocks from which, in calm weather, fish of all kinds can be caught, and crayfish are hauled to the surface upon a piece of meat tied to a rope, and then grabbed by the horns.

After a few days' stoppage at Karratts —I cannot say "rest," because we were exploring and collecting from daylight till dark, except when taking our meals—Mr. Harpur kindly offered to take us across to Cape de Coudie, near "Remarkable Rock" and the Camarina Rocks, known as "The Brothers" to the islanders. Mr. Tepper decided not to go, because he wished to collect—notwithstanding that the day was Sunday—therefore we started with a lighter load, which, as it turned out, was rather fortunate.

For the first 5 miles the country is rather poor, directly after leaving the valley of Stunsail Boom River, consisting chiefly of a sandy clay (pipeclay), covered with sedges, and generally scrubby bushes and heath, with small timber on the low rises. At 7 miles' distance from Karratta we came to the South-West River—the point referred to on Captain Sutherland's map as the terminus of his journey across the island and the site of the sealers' huts. Between here and Karratta we passed several lagoons, one called "The White Lagoon."

There seems to be an immense number of lagoons of this name—indeed they are as common a name on the island as that of Smith or Onetree Hill or Stone Chimney is upon the mainland. To the left of the track, upon approaching the South-west River, is a swamp and a high sandhill, with limestone beneath and some ironstone. There are several treacherous holes in this hill, and into one of them a man and horse fell not very long since. The man got out again, but the bones of his horse remain to puzzle the naturalists of remote ages to come. The swamp 2 miles to the eastward of the river is filled with true bullrushes, which are extremely rare upon Kangaroo Island, and only known in one other swamp as yet, and at about 2 miles across from the track is a fine belt of sugargums—all dead, and the bark off, the ghosts of a former forest. The wood, I was told, is as solid and as sound as can be. There is a good area of splendid garden ground in this neighbour-hood, and from here onward and to the right of our track there is a very great improvement. The scrub is very dense, and rises to 20 or 25 feet, with a thick undergrowth. There is a considerable quantity of wattle (Acacia pycnantha), and a great many dwarf acacias of several varieties. At the river itself there is, as usual, a lot of timber.

From the South-West River to the Remarkable Rock is about 8 miles, and in going to the Rock we cross the belt of good land, which continues away to the right of our track diagonally away from us. We then came to a low scrub upon a sandy and then a limestone soil. To the right of us, at a distance of apparently 4 miles, is a high range of thickly scrubbed hills, chiefly formed of sand. Between the range and where we are is a deep depression, from which there is no outlet— that is, the depression is like an immense basin, and at a mile or two from the Remarkable Rock we cross a valley which leads into the amphitheatre. The surface is a hard limestone rock, but here is a strong outcrop of granite in three immense round - topped rocks.

At about two miles eastward from the rock the country changes for the worse. Limestone becomes more and more abundant, and the constant jolts send electric shocks through each vertebral column. Now and again the party in the buggy take a sudden flight heavenwards; but the sordid earth stil exercises her claims to their bodies, and they come down with a jerk, which is generally accompanied with a grunt or a groan. To those who are used to rough roads, as we all were, these ups and downs are accepted as part of the programme; but I heard of some calico men who went over the same road a year or so since, who apparently suffered tortures, and whose cries and groans would have been discreditable to a girls' boarding-school.

At about half a mile from the Remarkable Rock we had to get out of our buggy and walk. The scrub was almost impassable, notwithstanding that a track had been cleared through it once. We came to a huge round-topped boulder of granite, like a great haystack. A very short distance beyond this we came on to sand, then limestone slabs, and then the Remarkable Rock itself stood boldly before us.

The Remarkable Rock consists of three immense rocks of granite, standing high above the cliffs of granite which form the base. To seaward the cliffs descend at an angle of about 90 degrees for distance of perhaps 300 feet, and it would be a difficult feat for a goat to scale them. To landward, on the north and west sides, there is the bare granite hill upon which the rock is supported, and one has to be very careful in ascending lest he should slip and come on his face upon the smooth rounded mound. To the eastward the slope is still steeper, and there is a fissure about 6 feet wide and about the same depth, by following which seaward down the cliff a nice pool of water is found. In every direction landward the granite runs under limestone (travertine), but at 100 yards to the east-ward there is another large granite rock, perhaps 30 feet high. The landward rock of the three forming the Remarkable Rock is chambered on the northern side, quite a large chamber existing at an elevation of about 15 feet above the bed rock, and a kind of natural stairway leads up to it from the wall. The easternmost rock has a large chamber at the eastern end, with a curtain of rock hanging down to within 10 feet of the bed rock. Immediately beneath a wall rises about 3 feet high, and inside the room thus formed there are two benches or banks of rock slightly hollowed, which, when covered with brush, serve as bedsteads for any one who may make this place a residence. One of these benches is next to the dwarf wall, and the other is at the back of the room, and above this is another bench which is called the cup-board, where stores and skins are placed.

The wallaby hunters and sealers have often made this their home. And once a woman with two children occupied the cave by themselves for several months whilst the husband was shearing on the mainland. I believe the man and two children are now dead, and the widow lives by herself miles and miles from all human aid or sympathy, gaining a living by trapping wallaby. Looking at the rock from the northward, the eastern rock looks a good deal like an elephant upon its knees, the curtain representing the trunk. The staircase rock, with the upper chamber, stands at the hip of the elephant, and might be likened to a tiger rampant, but facing away from the other animal, and rising head above the couchant elephant. From the westward the rocks look like three shepherds' hats standing close together upon a high bare promontory. The rock is truly "remarkable," not only for its strange appearance, but also in being granite so much elevated above the old travertine. The travertine is quite bare over large spaces, and in some parts is only a thin scale of 2 or 3 inches upon the granite, whilst further inland it is up to 60 or 80 feet above the granite. Beneath the slabs of limestone were great numbers of lizards, chiefly geckos, of which I found no less than five under one piece. As the Museum is well supplied with specimens of our geckos, I let the pretty creatures alone.

From Remarkable Rock to Cape de Coudie is only 3 miles, but it is the roughest 3 miles I ever travelled over in a buggy. The surface is all limestone, and the hardest of limestone at that. We saved a long round by taking a short cut across, the country of course being scrub, but shorter near the coast than farther inland. We made the old cut track at two miles, and in about a mile more came to a small open place, surrounded by dense teatree, with a wide well-defined gap towards the coast. The place bore most evident signs of human settlement, for there were ancient tins, pieces of rough clothing, old camp fires, a wurley or mi-mi, and other relics of civilization. Skulls of wallaby and opossum were abundant, as well as bones of several animals. Upon enquiry of our host I learnt that this was the sealers' and wallaby trappers' camp—a nice sheltered place. It was sundown when we reached here, so we pitched our camp, swung the billy, and deferred our visit to the wonders of the neighbourhood untilthe morrow.

Mr. Harpur had allowed one of the station hands—an aboriginal from Narracoorte district, who speaks best English, and knows no other tongue — to accompany us on horseback, and I think it would not have been possible to keep the track for half a mile out of the 11 had it not been for his quickness of vision. Ted is a very fair musician, playing the concertina by ear with remarkable precision. Generally I detest "constant screamers," but it was pleasant to listen to Ted. During the last 3 miles his quick eye caught sight of a porcupine ant-eater, which he caught, but it got away from us at Queenscliffe afterwards. He tethered it for the night at our camp, and I watched its method of burrowing. The animal has very strong feet, armed with long claws, which it doubtless uses when digging upon hard ground. But upon the sandy soil it merely fluttered its quills and sunk as a flounder will sink upon wet sand. The quills appear to be set in circles or crowns, and when the animal "shivers" its skin the quills work in a circular direction, so that in reality the echidna bores its way into the earth. In less than a minute it was completely covered—even the quills were out of sight—and no one would have thought that an animal had ever stood upon the spot. At the camp Ted set some snares, but in eleven snares he took only one wallaby and two opossums during the night.

Next morning we were up betimes, packed up our tent and swags, and after giving the horses their feed, started before breakfast to look at the Sealers' Bridge and the Cassowary Rocks, called "The Brothers" by the sealers and islanders. From the camp to the edge of the cliffs is about half a mile, on an incline, over a solid surface of limestone, except that it is full of deep fissures and holes, some of which lead into caves probably, and others are sometimes filled with rain water. One such waterhole is almost permanent, and Ted got water for the horses out of it. Its position is marked by a short stick with some stones about it, and it is about midway between the opening in the scrub and the Sealers' Bridge. In the fissures of the rock are growing numbers of shrubs usually found near the seacoast, but they are all prostrate, and with their heads turned away from the sea. This is a strong evidence that the winds are strong in this quarter, and prevailingly from the south and west. Off the end of the cape are two small islands, limestone, with a little vegetation upon them. The first is about a quarter of a mile from the cape, and the other about a mile off, with deep water all around. They are noted as being the resort of fur seals, and it was upon the nearest of the islands that the two men were imprisoned about twelve months ago through their two mates going away with the boat and getting drowned. The story of their rescue, as told me by my host, was a thrilling one, and I felt almost as much excited as though the rescue were then being carried out. I am told that the islands stand about 60 feet out of the sea; but standing as it were quite over them upon the high cliffs they look quite flat, and not nearly so high. The weather was dead calm when we were there, and it was almost impossible to realize that there could be much difficulty in landing on the islands at any time.

After looking at "The Brothers" for some time and listening to the story of the rescue my host led the way towards the point of the cape, and when we had got probably within 100 yards of it, turned to the left and began descending a narrow and difficult path-way down the aide of the cliff. After descending about 100 feet we came to a vast arch beneath the hill over which we had previously walked unconscious of the chasm beneath our feet. The arch is 60 to 70 feet high at the crown and quite 200 feet wide at the base, and probably 200 to 300 feet broad. From the roof descend innumerable stalactites, and the floor consists of a hard black schistose rock, with a dip to the southward and running east and west. To the westward a reef extends some distance with a narrow channel of water up to the floor beneath the bridge. In this channel are growing algae of all sorts and colours, a veritable sea garden, amongst the plants of which are fish of varied hues, and chitons, limpets, earshells, and many others, which I should have liked to get for my scientific friends, but could not on account of the slipperiness of the rocks and a "game" knee. Ted, however, got down and captured a rare crab and two or three other curios, but got caught by a surge, and desisted at my desire. He also caught a couple of penguins amongst the stones at the base of the "bridge." By clambering over the rocks we turned a corner on the westward, and revealed another curious cave. In this cave there had once been a soft vein in the adamantine black rock, and the constant surging of the water from the west has washed all the soft rock away, leaving a causeway into the cliff of about 10 feet wide, 80 feet long, and 25 feet deep. At the seaward side a large black rock stands as a block in the causeway, so that we stand here and look straight down into a still dead pool of water—as the tide is out—about 6 or 8 feet deep. The chasm slopes downward, until the roof touches the water, and we are left to guess how far it extends, or whether it goes right under the hill and into the sea on the other side.

Upon the eastern side of the cape there are channels between reefs running out for a short distance from the land, and at the end of one of these channels is what is called the Sealer's Cave, where they sometimes run in a boat, pull it up, and then clamber up the interior of the cave and out at a hole on the flat land above. We had no time to go round to this place, nor was the prospect of a dangerous climb sufficiently enticing, therefore we returned to camp and had a late breakfast.

It is impossible to do justice to the beauty of this natural bridge, its caves, its cliffs, and its other features, and probably there are very few men who within the next 100 years will have the opportunity of seeing what has been my privilege to see. It is a very difficult place to reach—quite 80 miles from the nearest place where horses could be hired, and even then there is no feed upon the way, whilst road there is none for 30 miles. There is just a possibility that a lighthouse may be erected either here or at Cape Bedout some day, since there have been several deplorable wrecks about this part of the island, and since the Border light is completely shut out here. If such a lighthouse should be erected it will be absolutely necessary to cut and make a road from Vivonne Bay, where there is excellent shelter, and where some day there will probably be a township. In that case the Sealer's Bridge, the Sealer's Cave and the Remarkable Rock will secure a large number of tourist visitors.

After a hearty breakfast we made a start, and managed to get over half a mile of sandy ground, when just as we got on top of a sandhill, upon level ground, the three centre bolts of one spring broke all at once; the spring separated into seven parts, the kingbolt on the fore-carriage broke, and the buggy looked like a coachsmith's yard. I thought we had a two-days' walk before us, but Mr. Harper took out the toolbox, and with the aid of Ted and a lot of patience got the spring together again, fitted in a kingbolt, repaired the other damages, and in a couple of hours we were again upon our journey towards Karrata. At sundown we reached South-West River, where Ted showed his agility in walking a log and tumbling backwards into the water. We gave the horses a drink here, and then started again, making Karratta at half past 9 p.m., thoroughly tired but delighted with our visit to Cape de Coudie and its adjacent wonders.

After another day at Karratta we started back for Queenscliffe, going a little further to the eastward of the track we took in going up. The deviation was made at the White Lagoon Station, but there was no difference to note in the character of the country. The soil east-ward of White Lagoon Station is decidedly inferior to that to the westward, and there is an improvement always as the west-ward is crossed. Along the beds of the watercourses, on the flats at their sources, and generally when we get off the ridge, or backbone, the soil im-proves. The centre of the island is high —very high—and there are plateaus or flats along the ridges, which seem to have a pipeclay or calcareous subsoil, inter-mixed largely with ironstone nodules. The water cannot get away, and the flats produce sedges in place of grasses. Where there is drainage the soil appears to be of a much better character, though grass grows nowhere upon the island except upon sandy patches near the seacoast, and upon the cleared land near the water courses. I believe that if the land were thoroughly cleared on some of the better soils that good grass, good cereal crops, and good crops of vegetables and fruit could be raised — indeed this has been proved in several cases by the gardens and cultivation paddocks that have been established. We reached Queenscliffe at about midday on Friday, and managed to enjoy ourselves very well with collecting and fishing until Monday, when we started per James Comrie at 11 a.m., and arrived at Port Adelaide at 10.15 p.m. Mr. Harper came up to Adelaide with us upon business, and at Adelaide ended one of the most pleasant holidays, through his kindness, I ever enjoyed.

TRIP ACROSS KANGAROO ISLAND. (1886, December 11). Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904), p. 9.

Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904), Saturday 11 December 1886, page 15



Sir—Your Agricultural Editor, in his account of his trip across Kangaroo Island (which I have read with the greatest pleasure) states that "Governor Whalley," as he was called, was turned off his farm by the South Australian Company's Manager (Mr. Samuel Stephens), Will you allow me to say that there is not the slightest foundation for this statement? Whalley and Day, who was his partner, well lived together, sold their improvement, consisting of garden stuff, pigs, and poultry, to the South Australian Company, as they (Whalley and Day) were anxious, in common with some of the other islanders, to get to some other island, a report having got about some time before that the authorities of Van Dieman's Land and New South Wales wanted some of them. I am quite sure that the earlier books of the South Australian Company would bear me out in the statement that Whalley and Day were bought out, not turned off. Justice to the memory of a good and kind-hearted man prompts me to write this.

I am, Sir, &c.,


Re Gold on Kangaroo Island. — Mr. Menger, a gentleman known to all old colonists, found gold in many places on Kangaroo Island, and made several journeys to the neighbourhood of what is now called the " Koh-i-Noor Mine." Mr. Menger met several cuts made with a view of picking up a load or lead.—W. L. B.

TRIP ACROSS KANGAROO ISLAND. (1886, December 11). Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904), p. 15.