Settlement Day 2015


Our 2015 settlement day lunch was attended by 53 members and guests at the Maid of Auckland hotel in Edwardstown. Compared to the previous year, when the hotel was undertaking renovations, we had a well appointed room to ourselves. The food and service were well received.

President Gil Daw welcomed our patrons, life members, members, guests and speakers and gave a short resume of the Association activities during the current year. Our patron Vickie Chapman gave a short talk on Kangaroo Island before introducing the new Commissioner of Kangaroo Island, Wendy Campana, who spoke of her future plans and how far she had progressed to date. In offering our co-operation, the Association thanked Wendy and the President noted that her appointment has already raised the profile of Kangaroo Island in Parliament and led to new infrastructure possibilities being examined.

Members were then addressed by our special guest speaker, the noted war historian Bob Kearney, assisted by the general manager of the RSL Virtual War Memorial, Sharyn Roberts. With many projected images, Bob guided the audience through many stories of World War 1 and in particular the South Australian formed 10th Battalion, in which a large number of Kangaroo Islander men enlisted. Sharyn gave the audience a practical demonstration of the RSL Virtual War Memorial In thanking her, the Association presented a donation to this impressive RSL project..

At the end of the lunch, Michael Seager, the son of Harold and Dr Joy Seager, gave us a summary of his parents' life, including his father’s war experiences as a captain in the 10th Battalion and their life for the period they resided on Kangaroo Island from about 1922 to the late 1940s. He referred us to his book “The Major – H.W.H. Seager, M.C.”.

The 2016 Settlement Day luncheon is planned to be held at Kingscote, Kangaroo Island.

Thanks were extended by the President to Secretary Anthea Taylor, and Treasurer Jenny Florey for the successful organisation of the event.

On Kangaroo Island


On Monday 27th July, 2015, Settlement Day was celebrated on Kangaroo Island at the Old Mulberry Tree at Reeves Point. Nat Golder represented the Association at the ceremony and we thank Dene Cordes for forwarding his talk to us.

“My great - great – great grandfather was Nat Thomas of Antechamber Bay, who used to be a sealer who sailed along the southern parts of Kangaroo Island in the 1820s. In about 1824, Nat, with his partner, Betty, (who were both free settlers from Tasmania), decided to live on the Island. Nat built a nice home and was living here about twelve years before the first official settlers arrived at Reeves Point on July 27, 1836.

There were several other unofficial settlers enjoying the lifestyle of Kangaroo Island and who were staunch friends of the Thomas’s. These included “Governor” Henry Wallen, Fireball Bates and William Walker. Nat Thomas and Betty raised two daughters who later became Mrs Mary Seymour and Mrs Hannah Simpson. The Thomas’s were respected citizens of Penneshaw where Nat arranged for the first public school to be opened. He is remembered by a memorial in Nat Thomas Street at Penneshaw. It was after him that I was named. Betty was a Tasmanian Aborigine and thus the Tasmanian Aborigines did not become extinct as was thought by historians. I am proud to be a sixth generation Kangaroo Islander, descended from Nat Thomas, Mary Seymour, Annie Harry, Mavis Golder and Brentley Golder. The unofficial settlers on Kangaroo Island were a prominent part of Kangaroo Island history, and Mavis Golder was a founding patron of the Kangaroo Island Pioneers Association.

Today’s date, 27th July, is when South Australia was first settled by official European settlers and being the first settlement in the State, it is also the birthplace of South Australia.

The nine ships that made up the First Fleet bound for Kangaroo Island, were despatched from London, England, by His Majesty King William 4th. On 27th July, 1836, the first of these ships, the “Duke of York,” arrived at Reeves Point after a journey of five months. Soon afterwards, other ships arrived. These were the John Pirie, the Lady Mary Pelham, the Emma, the Cygnet, the Tam O’Shanter, the Rapid, and the Africaine. Last of the nine ships was the Buffalo and she arrived in the Colony five months after the first settlers. During that period of time a better water supply had been found, so the Buffalo was intercepted out in Nepean Bay and diverted to Holdfast Bay (Glenelg). Kangaroo Islanders should be mindful of, and jealously protect our position of the birthplace of South Australia. The little colony here at Reeves Point grew to have 400 inhabitants at one stage and even though many of this number eventually moved to the mainland, quite a number of the more resilient stalwarts stayed on, farmed the area and later supplied quarried basalt rock to the mainland for road works.

Among those settlers were the Calnan pioneers who have always had many descendants living on the Island throughout these past 179 years. These families who descend from the original Calnan pioneers include the well-known local names of Chapman, and Bell. Descendants of the original 1836 First Fleet have now spread across South Australia, other states of Australia, and overseas.

On this day, in 1836, Captain Robert Clark Morgan sailed the Duke of York into Nepean Bay. He chose a little two year old girl, Elizabeth Beare, to be carried ashore by a Crew member, who placed her feet on the sand, so that she became the first Official European Settler to tread on this soil, but there were other waves of settlers who came here to Kangaroo Island as pioneers, too. The first of these arrived as temporary sealers in early 1803, later to be followed by sealers and whalers, and then the permanent unofficial settlers. So, twelve years before the arrival of the first fleet, there were Europeans and indigenous people living and raising families at Antechamber Bay, Penneshaw, and Cygnet River and I am a descendant.

Many permanent farmers settled along the north coast, south coast, west end, Cygnet River, and the Dudley Peninsula. They, too, were Island pioneers. There was yet a further wave of Pioneers on Kangaroo Island, the Soldier Settlers , after World War Two. In 1947 the South Australian Government opened up a huge Soldier Settler farming area on Kangaroo Island, based around Parndana. These people are also pioneers, who today can look back with much pride on their development of much of the Island. 170 new families settled in the newly cleared bushland and developed farms in the districts of Parndana, Karatta, Gosse, Stokes Bay, Harriet, MacGillivray, and Haines. This was a huge and successful step in opening up Kangaroo Island. To this day, there are many people who settled here in that era from 1947 to the 1970s.

This means that Kangaroo Island has many reasons to be proud of its history and its pioneers. Today, we celebrate all of the pioneers, including the Soldier Settlers and we thank and honour them at this place and at this time every year. Settlement Day covers all those worthy souls, and all of their descendants right up to the present time.”