Seeing the light on Kangaroo Island
When we arrive I wonder “What was I thinking?” This place is remote, the last 20km has been on a gravel road, and now we’re on the extreme eastern tip of Kangaroo Island, South Australia. What on Earth are the boys, especially the teenager, going to do? Digital activity will be limited, with little in the way of mobile phone signal.
But then we stop and look around. It’s quiet, until you hear the wind, birds and sea. Looking west there’s farmland and patches of bush; turning right the land drops to a rocky granite shoreline and the horizon extends out to Cape St Albans and a small light beacon; then the water of Backstairs Passage; beyond to the north, the coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula extends from Cape Jervis to Newland Head. To the east and south is ocean until we spot cliffs running southwest to Cape Hart. And the colours, light and clarity are always changing.
A lighthouse was established here in 1852, the first in the then colony of South Australia. Our accommodation is one of three keepers’ quarters constructed in 1927. At the time, multiple families were required to maintain the facility. Cape Willoughby is now technically a light station and the traditional rotating prism arrangement has been replaced by a compact LED and horizontal prism controlled by a light sensor, so if there’s a storm during the day, the light comes on. The history of lighthouses is one of the impact of automation.
So what do we do here? We walk to the nearby headlands and shoreline. We stroll along the beach of Antechamber Bay, behind Cape St Albans, 3km of pure sand and clear, calm water where the only visible human elements are three farm buildings and the occasional passing ship. There are dolphins and endangered hooded plovers, and a winery nearby. And we play cards and board games and just do nothing. We visit Seal Bay and drive along the south coast to Cape du Couedic. Staying as a guest of National Parks allows free entry to all other parks on the island, which is advantageous for a group wanting to view the residents of Seal Bay and experience the Remarkable Rocks.
Distance driving on Kangaroo Island can be a little dreary, with most roads bordered by mallee scrub, but there are wonders aplenty on the coast. Mobile phones? Hey, who cares? Send your 400-word contribution to Follow the Reader: email@example.com. Columnists will receive a Cross Tech3 MultiFunction Pen that neatly switches between a black and red pen, pencil, eraser and a stylus for use on smartphone or other touchscreen device; $89.95. More: luxurypens.net.au.