Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Kangaroo Island: a place of empty beaches and hidden history

Many people have a fondness for islands and islanders. Bass Strait Islands are home to lighthouses, shipwrecks, and hardy fishermen. They…

By Chan , in Travel , at March 20, 2024

Many people have a fondness for islands and islanders. Bass Strait Islands are home to lighthouses, shipwrecks, and hardy fishermen. They also have wildlife, isolated beaches, good food, and wildlife. Kangaroo Island has all of these things and more, to an extremely refined degree.

It has an Aboriginal history, but unlike wine, cheese, maroon, and sheep, it doesn’t advertise this fact. It hides its history.

The devastating Kangaroo Island fires in 2019-20 destroyed many buildings and burned souls. It will take the island a long while to recover physically and mentally. The island’s economy took a huge hit because so much of its tourist infrastructure was destroyed. The recovery will be painful and slow.

While it is easy to promote the great food, beautiful beaches, and wildlife of the island, it may take some time for tourists to return. Do not be put off from visiting the island. It is a truly exceptional part of the country. A few years ago, it produced one of the most captivating tourism advertising campaigns that you have ever seen. Visitors should return to the island.

This is an excellent opportunity to tell the story of the Aboriginal people and broaden its appeal.

Aborigine culture is frequently listed as one of the top three Australian experiences that tourists wish to experience. Rarely do they get it. Entrepreneurs and historians have a great opportunity, but wait – shouldn’t Aboriginal people provide this opportunity? Australia is known to try and close the gap and fail. We like to intercede and then forget. What is needed is respect for Aboriginal culture and determination from governments and the general public to tell this story.

It is an opportunity for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people to profit from the island’s past. Let’s explore the past together. We will start with Australia’s seal industry and Tasmania, its largest island.

The colonial Australian sealing industry is an excellent example of how Western industrial capitalism wrecks the world. Exploitation without regard for the environment. Profit is the goal, so move on. Abuse of Mother Earth.

Abuse of anyone who happens to be in your way. In this instance, Aboriginal people. Aboriginal women.

Tasmanian Aboriginals had a system of division of labor in which the women were responsible for a large part of the resource collection from the sea. Aboriginal tradition dictated that the extraction of resources be done under spiritual rules, as the economy and spiritual life could not be separated.

The majority of sealers believed it reasonable to buy a woman in order to achieve these goals. While the church and the government were not happy about this practice, it played a crucial role in the colony’s growth.

Sealers regularly dropped women off on isolated islands if they were pregnant or could no longer work. Many were left on Kangaroo Island off the coast of South Australia.

Today, Kangaroo Island seems to have forgotten this history. In the tourist information, you will not find any mention of Aboriginal women. You might get a belligerent look if you ask for information about Aboriginal history at the places where you would expect to see it. A local art store was more accommodating and gave me the number of an Aboriginal family that could give me a complete history.

Uncovering: The Aboriginal Tasmanians on Kangaroo Island by Rebe Taylor is a brilliant history of Kangaroo Island. This is the only exception to Australia’s bellicose opposition to its history. It would be best if you read it before visiting the island.

Taylor’s reflections on the lack of Aboriginal history at the island’s museum were not different when I visited a few years after the publication of the book. The history is full of fascinating stories, but it’s not enough for some Australians who find Aborigines to be a threat to the notions of their legitimacy and identity.

It’s a real shame because, despite all the pain, adopting Australia’s true history is the only way to find an Australian identity. It is not necessary for the country to constantly kowtow to this pain, but it must acknowledge it in order to have an intelligent discussion about our nationhood. It is possible to celebrate and look forward to the future while understanding our past.

Enjoy a relaxing island vacation. Snelling Beach is a remote, beautiful beach where I went abalone diving to wash away the bitterness of my reception when I asked for information on Aboriginal history. Kangaroo Island has gorgeous beaches, and you can often have the entire beach all to yourself. It is the kind of experience that our world needs.

Reflect on Australia’s bounty as you stroll along the beach. Accepting an accurate national history doesn’t mean we have to give up our beach culture. Both sides will experience discomfort, but we can grow and develop our conversation. Australia is capable. The national identity will not be thrown out but rather enriched and built on substance.

Rent a car or bike and explore the island at leisure. You may hear a prejudicial or uninformed discussion on the nature and culture of Aboriginal people on the ferry. We hope that this will soon be replaced by conversations informed by Aboriginal placenames that provide a better understanding of Australian history.

Things To See and Do

The Oyster Farm Shop
This working oyster farm sells sustainable seafood products from all over the island, including wild maroon oysters or native oysters.

Cliffords Honey Farm
Kangaroo Island has a colony of Ligurian honey bees, which were introduced from Italy. Honey and other products are available here, but the honey ice cream is the main reason for visiting.

Seal Bay
A guided tour will take you along the beach to see sea lions snoozing. You can also take a self-guided tour to a boardwalk or observation platform, but you will not get as close to wildlife.

Flinders Chase National Park
The 2019-20 bushfires will still leave scars, but the highlights of this park are the colony at Admirals Arch of Seals, the Cape du Couedic Lighthouse, and the highly photographed Remarkable Rocks.