Kingscote, Kangaroo Island

kingscote Half of Kangaroo Island's population of 4,000 people live in the vicinity of Kingscote. It's the commercial and shopping hub of the island. We motored the 15 miles or so in flat calm waters from Eastern Cove and anchored off the port. After confirming that 1) there were still no rental cars available and 2) we were too late to go on a tour, we decided lunch in town and a walk around Kingscote would have to do.

A rather odd thing happened as we were hauling anchor in Eastern Cove. A bee flew in from the island and landed on the windscreen. I saw him and thwacked him off with a snap of my fingers. He flew back and landed a few feet away. I thwacked him again. And again, he moved a few feet away and landed. I figured he was interested in a lift to Kingscote to visit friends and family or look for work and keen to find a ride. The third time, I let him rest. I read that the Ligurian bees on Kangaroo Island are quite famous and unique … who was I to mess with insect fame?


ligurian bee


Kingscote boasts that it's the first official European settlement in South Australia. The British barque Duke of York anchored in Nepean Bay on July 27, 1836 and established Reeves Point as a formal settlement. The Visitor Info kiosk is part of the KI souvenir shop and a Kingscote brochure was easily obtained. There were several walking tours described, but the best was a 4km walk along the beach to historic Reeves Point with lots of historic info placards strategically placed along the way.

We walked along a boardwalk through a protected blue penguin (aka little penguin) reserve. Penguins are nocturnal and this happens to be breeding season, so nobody was at home, but we did see their little fabricated huts along the tufted hillside.


kingscote penguin reserve


It was the bottom of the low tide as we walked along the shore, traipsing through shells and debris along the wrack line. I found several pieces of well worn sea glass to add to my “I'll do something constructive with it later” collection. We passed the remains of old jetties, lost long ago to wind, sea and weather, a few errant pilings the only reminders of their existence.


kingscote old pier and swans


At Reeves Point, we headed up to Flagstaff Hill for better views of the bay. En route, we came across The Mulberry Tree, originally planted in 1836 by the first settlers. It has some support nowadays to keep it upright, but it still purportedly bears fruit each year.


historic mulberry tree


The climb to Flagstaff Hill wasn't difficult, it's not that high, but the panoramic views were indeed lovely. We saw the foundations of old home sites along the way and thought the early settlers definitely had a rough time of it, but their choice of house locations were spot on.


flagstaff hill


Back to town via the original settlers' cemetery. This is always an interesting stop for us. We learn so much from the epitaphs and gravestones. The children seemed to have the worst time here … sickness, starvation, accidents, all noted on the gravestones. People who died en route and were buried at sea were remembered, as well as those who died in the early years of settlement.


first settlers cemetary


We returned to Kingscote via the Esplanade, high above the shore. Nine of Cups bobbed gently in the waves, her wind gen spinning smartly, toting up amps, so we could watch a movie this evening. A fine day, perhaps not as much as we'd hoped for our time here, but sometimes we take what we can get.


lugurian honey


Back to our Ligurian bee hitchhiker … he flew off just as we anchored at Kingscote, obviously figuring he could make his own way from there. We bought some KI honey in his honor.

Exploring American River, Kangaroo Island

kangaroo island map  

There's lots to see on Kangaroo Island (KI), but without a rental car, it's hard to get around. The island is bigger than you'd think ... 93 miles long (150km) and 56 mi (90km) at its widest and though we love walking, this was bit too long a hike for our time here. We opted to explore a bit in the American River area and discover its unique offerings, rather than grouse about what we couldn't see.

With no let up in wind or rain, we spent our first day at anchor on the boat. Just as well, we wanted a feel for the holding power of the new anchor. Launching the dinghy was like flying a kite in 25 knot winds. Getting a wet dinghy butt didn't seem all that attractive, so we were happy to stay put until the sun returned … and it did.


american river sunrise


We skirted across the bay and entered the narrow channel in the dinghy which seemed much wider than if we'd been in Cups. We could see the shoaling at the fore markers from all the tidal action.


american river channel markers


The first thing that struck us about the area was the number of birds. Black swans swam gracefully, ducking their heads under the surface for breakfast. Long-legged white ibis searched the shallows for their morning meal. Huge Australian pelicans were everywhere … flying, floating, occupying tops of light poles and pilings. We found a place to tie up the dinghy near a boat launch and headed onto shore.


american river pelican


It's evident that this is a small fishing town. Small, moored fishing boats dotted the small harbor. Men fished off the pier. There was a fish measuring station to make sure each catch was within legal limits. Unused fish traps and buoys were piled beside the dock.


american river fish measuring station


As soon as we reached the main road, a flock of yellow-tailed black cockatoos flew by. Though we looked in the listed locations, no rare glossy black cockatoos showed up, nor did the Tammar wallabies that were supposedly in such numbers. Come to think of it, we didn't see many people either. Sunday morning on Kangaroo Island and KI Cup Day and sunshine … evidently folks (and critters) had other places to go.


american river flock of cockatoos


After two days on the boat, it was a pleasure to walk along the scenic coast road.


anchorage view


We stopped in the General Store to look around. The friendly proprietor answered David's questions about local crabs and fishing. We've been lax about putting out a fish line or our crab net. Like all general stores, it carried a little bit of everything and nothing we particularly needed.


american river general store


We thought we'd stop somewhere for coffee or lunch, but found no place open. The Oyster Shop offered all sorts of delightful local treats, but it was closed on weekends.


american river oyster farm offerings


Having walked several miles by now and having found no sustenance at all, other than the granola bars Marcie packed which were long gone, we headed back to the dinghy and the boat.


american river local scene


A pleasant walk on a sunny day in a lovely place. Tomorrow we head to KI's big smoke … Kingscote.