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Sunday, 14 February 2021

From on Board: Coral Adventurer's Wild Islands and Walks of South Australia

#expeditioncruising .

Thu 11 Feb - Fri 12 Feb 2021

Cape Willoughby Lighthouse (Steve Parish)

When you consider there are more than 80 ships wrecked around Kangaroo Island (KI) and the peninsulas, you'd think lighthouses would have been a priority for the fledgeling colony of South Australia.

The treacherous waters to the south of the mainland were already well known to explorer Matthew Flinders as well as the whalers and sealers who had set up encampments near the abundant breeding grounds and migration routes of these valuable mammals. In fact, pioneer families were already living at Antechamber Bay a good ten years before the official colonists arrived at Holdfast Bay near present-day Glenelg in 1836.

Passengers ashore at Troubridge Island (R Eime)

The first lighthouse at Cape Willoughby did not illuminate the passage between KI and Cape Jervis until 1852, followed by Troubridge Island in 1856. Even then, ships continued to founder on the dangerous waters well into the 20th century.

Fortunately, our state-of-the-art satellite navigation has largely rendered these historic beacons obsolete, so the 93m, 5500GT Coral Adventurer can venture around these craggy outcrops with virtual impunity. Our interest instead has been to go ashore and investigate these installations, now preserved as part of the state's heritage.


Coral Adventurer in a perfect South Australian sunset (Isaac Forman/SATC)


Cape Willoughby, at the easternmost point of KI is popular among visitors to the island and can still be climbed as part of a tour. The old keepers' residences, vacated in 1992, can be booked for holiday accommodation. Similarly at Troubridge Island, just off the 'heel' of the York Peninsula, the old houses are now retreats for birdwatchers, nature lovers and isolationists although the constantly shifting sands keeps caretakers Mark and Lois Petersons on their toes.

Lighthouses everywhere in the world continue to ignite the fascination of history geeks (like me) and recall the days when seafaring really was a perilous enterprise. Today the greatest peril aboard Coral Adventurer is the calorie count served up by the kitchen team. Thankfully this can be offset with any of the many vigorous walks on offer or on one of the machines in the ship's gym.



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