Kangaroo Island Day 3 - Cape Borda Lighthouse & Northern Beaches

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Oceania » Australia » South Australia
March 9th 2018
Published: March 11th 2018
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This morning we headed off to the western end of the island again, this time to visit the Cape Borda Lighthouse which is located on the north-western corner of Kangaroo Island and remains remote even today. We planned our visit to coincide with the 12.30pm tour which includes the firing of the canon!

We arrived well before 12.30pm so had a little bit of time to walk around the uniquely square lighthouse and the keepers’ cottages before the tour started. The site is staffed by parks ranger, Mick, who is a real character. He was very entertaining relating the history of the Cape Borda Lighthouse to us and, if he told us once, he told us a dozen times that the Cape Borda Lighthouse is one of the only REAL lighthouses left in Australia and the only REAL lighthouse on Kangaroo Island. This is because it still boasts a Deville & Co lantern as opposed to an LED light globe which is now the light source for most light stations.

Mick reinforced the fact by continually referring to Cape du Coedic (pron. coo-dee) as Cape du Could Be and Cape Willoughby as Cape Wanna Be. Mick could only take us into the lower level of the lighthouse because this is the part administered by the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. He explained how the top floor of the lighthouse and the light itself are the property of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority. It is all set up to operate automatically these days with AMSA generally only visiting annually ... and in the event of any breakdown of course.

At 1.00pm the tour concluded at the canon which was duly fired - a very loud charge, but no canon ball of course! On foggy days when the light could not be seen the canon would be fired instead to alert shipping heading for Port Adelaide of the proximity of Cape Borda.

After a short hike (1km return) out to the clifftop viewing point we headed east along the Playford Highway. Highway, really? Can you really call it a highway when the road surface is unsealed?! We stopped for another stupendous clifftop view at Scott Cove before making another short stop at the Lighthouse Keepers Cemetery.

Mick told Cathy and Steve that it was well worth hiking down to the beach at Harveys Return to see the zebra schist. This was also the route by which all the lighthouse stores were brought to the lighthouse. The keepers spent days rowing back and forth to the stores ship before using a horse-drawn winch and small rail cars to bring the stores up from the beach. Then they still had to transport the supplies nine kilometres to the lighthouse! Because we are so soft these days we read the board at the trail head and decided it was simply too hot (30°+) to contemplate a one hour ‘hard hike’ to the beach and back!

We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the beaches along the northern coast of KI. After just eight kilometres back on sealed road we turned off onto the North Coast Road heading for Western River Cove which was beautiful. We should have swum here, but decided to wait until our next stop - Snelling Beach.

Unfortunately there was a fire at Snelling Beach just last month so as we approached through the hills it was all looking rather bleak. Although the surrounding hills were black, down at beach level the water was the most beautiful aquamarine and looked very inviting so we donned our togs and ventured in. The water wasn’t as warm as it was at Emu Bay, but it was deeper! Steve said we should stay and maybe give the other northern beaches a miss, but the rest of us thought we should move on to Stokes Bay which was another beach that had been recommended.

Oh dear, we arrived at the Stokes Bay car park and we were confronted with black pebbles. What, that’s not a real beach! We had to follow the ‘To beach’ signs across the pebbles and then negotiate a passage through some giant boulders - adorned with signs warning about a dangerous rip - before we finally reached an expanse of sandy beach. We all had to admit that we should have heeded Steve’s suggestion that we wouldn’t do better than Snelling Beach. Stokes Bay is definitely not a good ROI - to much effort to get to the beach and back again and a dangerous rip to boot. Very disappointing. The only good part about this stop was seeing a Golden Retriever enjoying the rock pool.

We drove the rest of the North Coast Road back to Kingscote where we showered off the sunscreen and the salt water from our day out and about in the sun. We cooked at ‘home’ again before playing cards. The luck tonight was all Bernie and Steve’s way.

Steps: 7,896 (6.12kms)

Of course if I could’ve worn my watch swimming I would have reached 10,000 steps!

Additional photos below
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