SA History Festival comes alive on Kangaroo Island

BIG D7: Museum volunteers Pat Brooksby, Geoff Brooksby, Tony Wilson, Andy Scott, Dianna McWhinnie and Nevile Sugars  in the new Ken McWhinnie Dozer shed at the Parndana Soldier Settlement Museum.
BIG D7: Museum volunteers Pat Brooksby, Geoff Brooksby, Tony Wilson, Andy Scott, Dianna McWhinnie and Nevile Sugars in the new Ken McWhinnie Dozer shed at the Parndana Soldier Settlement Museum.

SA History Festival 2018 kicks off on Kangaroo Island with an opportunity to learn more about our maritime history at Cape Willoughby lighthouse and a chance to help celebrate 70 years of settlement at Parndana Solider Settlement Museum.

SA History Festival starts at the end of April and runs through till the end of May with events across SA. This year, Kangaroo Island is playing host to events at two of our iconic historical sites providing visitors and locals alike to learn more about our local history. 

Cape Willoughby Lighthouse, the first lighthouse built in SA in 1852, kicks off the history festival with “Cape Willoughby Alight!”, an open evening at 5.30pm on Saturday, April 28. The event will give an opportunity to watch the sunset over Cape Willoughby lighthouse and watch the lighthouse light up.

There will be tours, live music, kids craft activities and a chance to learn about the life of early lighthouse keepers. There will also be a sausage sizzle provided by the Friends of Parks group, so rug up and take a torch.

Parndana Soldier Settlement Museum will be celebrating 70 years of settlement.

Parndana was established after World War II as a settlement for returning soldiers and throughout May you can visit the newly refreshed displays, interpretive signage and original campsite to learn more about the early life of these soldiers, their families and the hardships they went through to establish a new community. 

A new shed has also been built to house a recently acquired D7 bulldozer, a poster display, photos and other memorabilia from the recent reunion.   

The museum will be open 10am to 1pm Tuesdays and Wednesdays and 10am to 3pm Thursdays and Sundays throughout May.

To find out more information about these and other events of the SA History Festival please visit: https://historyfestival.sa.gov.au/ 

Bookings are only required for large groups.

FIRST LIGHTHOUSE: A stunning photograph of Cape Willoughby lighthouse, which was the first lighthouse built in SA. Photo: Quentin Chester

FIRST LIGHTHOUSE: A stunning photograph of Cape Willoughby lighthouse, which was the first lighthouse built in SA. Photo: Quentin Chester

Cape Willoughby Lighthouse

Cape Willoughby Lighthouse, the first lighthouse built in SA in 1852. Its purpose was to assist the safe and economic operation of shipping through Backstairs Passage which provides a direct route between South Australian ports and those in Victoria and New South Wales. 

The tower was built from granite quarried from the adjacent gulch, Devil’s Kitchen, and it took 18 men two years to build. 

There have been several different lantern rooms and lamps at the top of the tower; in the early days the light ran on whale oil, and up until 1974 there was a lens weighing 4 tonnes that rotated around the light, casting its glow almost 50km out to sea.

Today, the lighthouse is still operational, yet fully automated. Until 1992, however, the site was home to numerous keepers and their families.

Much work was involved in maintaining the light, and living in such a remote location required many hours of labour to bring in supplies, tend gardens and look after the farm animals that produced fresh milk and eggs. 

Despite this, there was also time for fun. Pursuits such as fishing, hunting, swimming and boating kept the keepers and their families occupied during their free time. There was even a tennis court there at one stage. 

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