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Week 43: Kangaroo Island

[ View the related 'Weekly Post': Week 45: Proclamation and Celebration ]

[ View the related 'Weekly Post': Week 43: Kangaroo Island ]

[ View the related 'Weekly Post': Week 40 - Finally! The harbour is found ]

[ View the related 'Weekly Post': Week 37: Building a Home ]

[ View the related 'Weekly Post': Week 36: Family Life ]

[ View the related 'Weekly Post': Week 35: Pastimes ]

[ View the related 'Weekly Post': Week 34 - a tempest ]

[ View the related 'Weekly Post': Week 26: Whose story? ]

[ View the related 'Weekly Post': Week 25 - The demon drink ]

[ View the related 'Weekly Post': Week 22: In Good Time ]

[ View the related 'Weekly Post': Week 20 - infectious disease ]

[ View the related 'Weekly Post': Week 18 - the port of Rio ]

[ View the related 'Weekly Post': Week 16: Crossing the Line ]

[ View the related 'Weekly Post': Week 16 - towards Australia ]

[ View the related 'Weekly Post': Week 15 - high drama on the John Pirie ]

[ View the related 'Weekly Post': Week 08: Employment ]

[ View the related 'Weekly Post': Week 06 : Weathering the Storm ]

[ View the related 'Weekly Post': Week 05: Ship Shape ]

Last week we explored numeracy in the new colony. Did you know that Kangaroo Island is the third largest island off the main coast of Australia, is 155 kilometres long and up to 55 kilometres wide, covering an area of 4,500 square kilometres!
Eight of our nine vessels have reached the shores of South Australia, and we are starting to read correlations between the journals, with many making reference to Kangaroo Island. This week, both Woodforde and Gouger refer to two men who have disappeared on the island. No one knows exactly the reasons behind their disappearance; some say it involved a disagreement while others put it down to exhaustion. At present we do not know the fate of these men. This week we explore Kangaroo Island, its history prior to 1836 and find out why it was such a significant place for our early English migrants.


Coastline of Kangaroo Island from ‘Views of the South Coast of Australia’. by William Westall, 1802. Image courtesy National Library of Australia.

Inquiry Questions:

  •   How did the English, French and Americans inhabit Kangaroo Island prior to our first nine vessels arriving in 1836?
  •   What was the significance of Kangaroo Island for our early English migrants?
  •   Light’s journal makes a number of references to locations explored by Captain Mathew Flinders. Who was Matthew Flinders and what role did he play in South Australia’s history?

Research Topics:

  •   Find out why some locations on Kangaroo Island have French names and others English names.
  •   Mary Thomas writes that there were no indigenous Australians (except a few women who ‘were employed by the white residents’) on Kangaroo Island during this time. Research the Aboriginal history on Kangaroo Island. 
  •   What where the first industries on Kangaroo Island and how do these compare to the current industries on the island today?

Historical Skills:

Chronology, terms and concepts:
  • Australia is described as an island. Find out which country is the world’s largest island. Find out the criteria used to identify land masses that are called islands.
Historical questions and research:
  • Use the journal entries and highlight any references to wildlife and animals. What information can be gathered from these references? How important was this wildlife to these early migrants?
  • Research the voyage of Matthew Flinders and find out why he named the island Kangaroo Island.
Analysing and using sources:
  • List the towns and locations in this week’s journal entries. Show the locations of these on a current map of South Australia. What conclusions can be drawn from this information?
  • Use a Venn Diagram to compare the similarities and differences between Kangaroo Island and the mainland of Australia in 1836.
Perceptions and interpretations:
  • Some Aboriginal people refer to Kangaroo Island as ‘Karta' or ‘Land of the Dead.’ Why would these names be given to such a place?
  • There have been issues related to excessive koala numbers on Kangaroo Island. Find out the consequences of this and suggest ideas on what can be done to improve this situation.
Explanation and communication:
  • What was the attraction of Kangaroo Island to these English migrants? Imagine living in 1836 and write a review of the island to your friends back in England.
  • Use a variety of tools to draw 2 contrasting images of Kangaroo Island, either what you imagined it to be like in 1836, or today.  

Activity Suggestions:

  1. After reading this week’s journal entries, what is your view on the disappearance of the two men on Kangaroo Island? Work with a partner to write a list of the top 5 skills that a person would need to survive in the harsh Australian bush. Collate a top 10 class list and identify how these skills could be of use in situations in your own life.
  2. The Buffalo is nearing the coast of South Australia. Imagine you are one of the newly arrived residents and have been put in charge of organising a welcome party. How would you invite guests to the party? Write a plan for your party, remembering to use resources you would have had access to in 1836.
  3. Why was whaling such an important industry in the early years of South Australia? What are your views on whaling and do you think they would differ if you were living 175 years ago? Research how other countries view the whaling industry today?
  4. Kangaroo Island is approximately 19km from the mainland of Australia. Today we can cross at this narrowest point on a ferry from Cape Jervis to Penneshaw, or fly from Adelaide in an aeroplane. The world’s longest bridge is the Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge in China, spanning 164km! Why do you think a bridge has not been built from the mainland to Kangaroo Island? Much planning is involved in the construction of bridges. Work in a group to plan and construct a bridge using drinking straws.
  5. Create a calendar to entice tourists to Kangaroo Island, highlighting the special seasonal events that occur each year. Illustrate each month with a related image.

What if?

What if Kangaroo Island did not exist? How would this have affected the lives of our early migrants?

What do you think?

Kangaroo Island today is one of Australia’s most attractive tourist locations and should be better promoted as a place for international tourists to visit.

Stay Tuned

Some of our passengers have been living in South Australia for four and a half months. How have these migrants settled and what was life like in the new colony? A variety of events are recorded in next week's journal entries, giving us an insight into  1836 South Australia. We are nearing the end of our journey, so be  sure to tune in next week to explore the beginning of a new colony.

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