OUR HISTORY

How did Lake Ada on Kangaroo Island get its name?

So how did Lake Ada on Kangaroo Island get its name?

A drone flight over the lake some months ago prompted me to ask that question, and now we have the answer.

Ian Schaefer originally commented on our social media post that the Lake Ada property was purchased by his great grandfather John in 1904, and is currently held by his brother Malcolm.

The east side of the lake extends onto the Lake Ada property but the majority of the lake is on old Kiawarra land once owned by the Buck family.

The old fence still extends across Lake Ada. Photo: Malcolm Schaefer

The old fence still extends across Lake Ada. Photo: Malcolm Schaefer

The old fence installed between the two properties in 1908 can still be seen extending out onto the lake.

Ian also pointed out that one of his granddaughters, Maliah "Ada" Johnson, carries the name of her great, great, great, grandfather's property, named after the lake.

But how the lake came to be known as Lake Ada was not known, at least not to Ian.

"My family history books have not revealed the naming of the lake however I identified the Burgess family owned the area prior to Bucks."

Liz Veitch, nee Buck, said she was not sure but did say the Griffith family owned Kiawarra for short time after the Burgess family but before the Bucks purchased it.

She did not know either where the name came from.

Bronwyn Foster on social media suggested surveyors would often officially name places after wives or daughters, and that's how nearby the Harriett and Eleanor Rivers were named.

But this was not the case for Lake Ada.

Flying over Lake Ada, Kangaroo Island

Ian's brother Malcolm, who still owns the Lake Ada property and trades as Lake Ada Pastoral, knows the answer.

He said one his great aunts told him the lake was named after Ada Burgess, original settler of the Kiawarra property.

KI PIONEERS: Letty Ford and Ivy Ford, daughters of John Ford who settled at Lake Ada and lived there from 1860 to 1935.

KI PIONEERS: Letty Ford and Ivy Ford, daughters of John Ford who settled at Lake Ada and lived there from 1860 to 1935.

The Ford family made a living selling kangaroo, wallaby and possum skins and they also had a eucalyptus oil still at Lake Ada Farm.

The Burgess family meanwhile grew summer crops on the lake bed and also potatoes in the sand hills.

Malcolm said he was very fortunate that as a teenager, he used to sit down with his great aunts to listen to stories of the past.

His aunt Una told him about the floods of the early 1900s when water from the lake rose up to the height of a horse's belly.

It was about this time that families neighbouring the lakes dug channels to allow the water to drain into the nearby Eleanor River.

This was the era when the settlers would only go into Kingscote a few times a year as the journey took a couple of days with a horse and buggy.

Interestingly, lake levels increased after the soldier settlers arrived in the 1950s, clearing the land in the catchment.

He recalls the lake was always full when he was growing up and it was around this time that the lake became popular for water skiing.

Also social media, David Huxtable recalled water skiing at Lake Ada, which prompted a comment by Andrew Heinrich: "Yes l have skied on this lake many times, even barefooted all the way around it once."

Malcolm recalls the Cannon family from nearby being keen water skiers, also regularly skiing on Murrays Lagoon.

The Schaefer's three great aunts and their father's ashes have been spread on the property.

If you have a KI mystery, historical or otherwise, you would like solved, contact me Stan at The Islander.

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