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: travel@theaus­ 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: lux­u­

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