Chronicle (Adelaide) 19 October 1907


The new lands which are being opened up on Kangaroo Island promise to settle a large population of prosperous farmers, but if the best use is to be made of them they must be rendered more easily accessible. There are good roads in the cultivated portion of the island, but in the areas acquired by the Government, and which are about to be surveyed into hundreds for the purposes of settlement, only, rough tracks exist.

A proposal is now being made that the tablelands, which are the backbone of the island, and which form the watershed whence the streams flow to the ocean on either side, should be bisected by a light and cheap line of railway, somewhat similar in character to those at Pinnaroo and Port Lincoln. The railway, it is suggested, should have its eastern terminus, either at Kingscote or some other port on the coast of Nepean Bay — Western Cove, for instance. The line, if its gulf terminus were at Western Cove, would run almost due west for a distance of 50 or 60 miles in the direction of Cape Borda, at the northwestern extremity of the island, which, indeed, could be reached in 65 miles from Kingscote. Should the railway start from Kingscote, as appears to be most likely, its direction to begin with would be south-westerly for about six miles, through the hundred of Menzies, and the Cygnet River would have to be crossed before the northern part of the hundred of MacGillivray is reached. At that point it would strike the telegraph line to Cape Borda and follow its course westwards.

If Western Cove were the terminus, and that would depend on the depth of water at that place, the direction right from the start would be westward, and the line would pass through the northern part of MacGillivray to the south of the Cygnet River. At present settlers in the vicinity of the coast at this point ship their wheat at Western Cove, but ketches are used for that purpose which do not draw much water. The line would probably go up the valley of the Cygnet, and then through the centre of the country recently resumed by the Government. It would then run right on the top of the island, and would serve an area roughly estimated at 450,000 acres, containing 70,000 acres of arable land available in the recently surveyed hundred of MacGillivray. This land would also include the 61,000 acres still held by the original lessees, which is scattered in patches over the centre of the island from Nepean Bay on the east, Stokes Bay on the north, to Hanson Bay, on the south. A large proportion of this country, say, about 286,000 acres, inclusive of 61,000 acres held by the lessees, is fit for the growth of cereals, and it should prove sufficient for the settlement of a large farming population — some hundreds of families. The blocks will average from 1,000 acres to 1,500 acres in extent.

There is a good rainfall all over the island, while the farmer who combines grazing with agriculture will have the satisfaction of knowing that there are no vermin — no rabbits to eat his crops and no wild dogs to worry his flocks. The climate is most genial, and the place would therefore be a very desirable place of residence, quite unlike the hot and dusty mallee or the bleak plains of some of the northern hundreds. Water can be obtained without difficulty. In many of the valleys of the different streams there is rich garden soil, on which fruit trees or any other growth desired can be cultivated. It has been stated, indeed, by officers of the Lands Department who have an intimate acquaintance with some of these specially fertile areas of the country referred to, that they would be particularly suitable to the cultivation of the best class of apples. Potatoes also could be largely grown, so that the railway, if constructed, would have a very important influence on the prosperity of the newly-opened lands.

Kingscote and the other seaside resorts on Kangaroo Island are steadily becoming more popular, but the people they draw are but visitors for a season. The settlers who will be attracted to the island by the opening up of the new lands and the construction of the proposed railway will be permanent factors in its prosperity.

Chronicle (Adelaide) 25 February, 1911



The final report of the Royal Commission, consisting of Messrs. A. H. Peake (chairman), A. R. Addison, J. H. Howe, Harry Jackson, David James, F. J. T. Pflaum, and J. Verran, appointed to enquire into the necessity for a railway, through Kangaroo Island, has been presented to the Governor. The report sums up the opinion of the Commission in the concluding paragraph, which states:—

'Having carefully considered the evidence, we are of the opinion— (1) That, although Kangaroo Island has many valuable qualities and attractions as a health and summer resort, it cannot be highly rated as a field for agricultural settlement, except in isolated places and in the hundred ot Dudley. (2) That there are large areas of land available for settlement on the main land, where effort and work would meet with much better reward than on the island. For these reasons we do not see our way to recommend that a railway be constructed at the present time. We would suggest however — (1) That the experiments of the Department of Agriculture be continued for the purpose of thoroughly testing the ironstone country. (2) That arrangements be made for experiments in forestry.'

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