Kingscote, South Australia

Kingscote is a town in the Australian state of South Australia located on Kangaroo Island about 119 kilometres (74 mi) south-west of the state capital of Adelaide.[4][2] It is South Australia's oldest European settlement and the island's largest town.[8] At the 2011 census, Kingscote had a population of 1,763.[1] It is a well-established tourist centre and the administrative and communications centre. It is home to a colony of the smallest penguins in the world, the little penguin.

South Australia
Dauncey Street
Coordinates35°39′11″S 137°38′03″E
Population1763 (including Brownlow KI) (2011 census)[1]
Location119 km (74 mi) south-west of Adelaide
LGA(s)Kangaroo Island Council
RegionFleurieu and Kangaroo Island[3]
State electorate(s)Mawson[5]
Federal Division(s)Mayo[6]
Mean max temp Mean min temp Annual rainfall
19.1 °C
66 °F
11.6 °C
53 °F
484 mm
19.1 in
Localities around Kingscote:
Wisanger Nepean Bay Nepean Bay
Wisanger Kingscote Nepean Bay
Menzies Cygnet River
Brownlow KI
Nepean Bay
Adjoining localities[4]


The South Australian Company established its colony at Kingscote at Reeves Point on 27 July 1836, as South Australia's first official European settlement, the first settlers having arrived on the Duke of York,[9] and named for Henry Kingscote, one of the founding directors of the Company.

It was early suggested that Kingscote could serve as the capital of South Australia, but the island's resources were insufficient to support such a large community; the South Australian Company moved almost six months later to Adelaide after sending surveyors to find a better site.

There was a shore-based bay whaling station operating on the shore D’Estrees Bay by 1843.[10]

The history of the area is displayed in the museum in Hope Cottage, to the north of the town. Hope Cottage was one of the three earliest houses built in Kingscote, circa 1850, with the adjoining cottages of Faith and Charity. (Faith has been subsequently demolished.)

The Old Mulberry Tree at Reeves Point was planted in 1836 and still bears fruit. Reeves Point has been placed on the Australian Heritage Places List.[11][12]

The current town of Kingscote is now immediately to the south of the original Kingscote settlement at Reeves Point in the area originally known as Queenscliffe (the origin of the name of the Queenscliffe Hotel in Dauncey Street).[13]

State heritage places

Kingscote contains the following places which are listed on the South Australian Heritage Register:

  • Hope Cottage [14]
  • The Bluff Cottage[15]
  • Barrett's Store[16]
  • Reeves Point Settlement Site being the site of the first official settlement in the Colony of South Australia[17]
  • Old Government Quarry[18]


Kingscote has a school offering years reception to 12 (R-12), a hospital, supermarket, post office and government offices. It is the administrative centre for the Kangaroo Island Council, whose offices have recently undergone a significant upgrade.

Recreational facilities include a sports centre and adjoining oval and netball courts.


A wharf and jetty stand at the waterfront. They were previously used by the roll-on, roll-off vessels, Troubridge and Island Seaway and now serve smaller vessels.

The jetty is accessible for recreational fishing and scuba diving and pelican feeding and nocturnal penguin tours are offered at the Penguin Centre, which is adjacent to the jetty.

The Aurora Ozone Seafront Hotel, with its mermaid statue, is a well-known landmark on the Kingscote foreshore. The hotel opened in 1907.[19] It was destroyed by fire 27 Aug 1918,[20] but was rebuilt and opened for business again on 29 December 1920.[21]

Shark proof tidal swimming pool

A shark-proof tidal swimming pool is open to the public.[22][23] Fundraising commenced in 1947[24][25][26] and plans were drafted by the South Australian Harbours Board. The Harbours Board estimated the total construction cost for the pool to be £607[27] and Mr W. S. Myers, won the contract for its construction.[28] A subscription list was started and maintained to update local residents on fundraising progress[27] and matching funding was offered by the South Australian Tourist Bureau.[29] Construction commenced in 1949.[30][31] Work continued in 1950, following delays owing to labor shortages and inclement weather.[32]

Little penguin colony

In 2007, the Kingscote colony of little penguins' population was 868 adults and fell to 706 in 2010.[33] In 2011, it was believed to be either declining or stable.[34] In 2012, the population fell to 300 adults according to DEW figures.[33] In 2013, the Kingscote colony of little penguins had dropped to 20 birds, according to tour operator John Ayliffe.[35] Official 2013 census figures were greater, estimating 154 breeding adults, down 48 per cent from the previous year and 82 per cent since the population peak in 2007.[36]

Increasing populations of long-nosed fur seals are believed to be a factor in the decline. Other predators of penguins on Kangaroo Island include rats, dogs, cats, goannas, sea lions and sea eagles.[34] Since the 1990s, penguin tour operators have improved the nesting habitat in the visitation area at Kingscote, through vegetation, habitat protection and constructing boardwalks for tourists.[34] Disease and declining fish stocks have also been blamed for declines in Little penguin numbers.[33]

Other colonies in South Australia have experienced dramatic declines since the 1990s. The nearest examples of colonies in decline are found in Encounter Bay (Granite Island, Wright Island and West Island) and at Penneshaw on Kangaroo Island.[35]

Accounts of little penguins at Kingcote exist from the 1930s.[37]

The Spit

Historically, little penguins have also been observed in burrows on The Spit which lies across the mouth of Bay of Shoals. Observations of penguins at this location were published in 1888,[38] 1911,[39] 1915,[40] 1934[41] and 1938.[42] A child visiting in 1947 found at least six penguin burrows.[43] The species did not appear in the list of birds observed at Busby Islet Conservation Park (part of The Spit) which was published in 1987.[44]


Kingscote has a Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification Csb), where most of the rain falls in the winter months.[45]

Climate data for Kingscote
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 40.6
Average high °C (°F) 23.7
Average low °C (°F) 14.9
Record low °C (°F) 8.3
Average precipitation mm (inches) 14.7
Average precipitation days 3.6 3.5 5.0 8.7 12.8 15.7 18.1 16.8 12.9 10.0 6.7 5.3 119.1
Source: [7]

See also


  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics (31 October 2012). "Kingscote (Urban Centre and Localities)". 2011 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 30 May 2016.
  2. "Postcode for Kingscote, South Australia". Retrieved 19 January 2017.
  3. "Fleurieu and Kangaroo Island SA Government region" (PDF). The Government of South Australia. Retrieved 9 September 2016.
  4. "Search result for "Kingscote (Locality Bounded)" (Record no SA0036764) with the following layers selected – "Suburbs and Localities", ""Government Towns" and "Place names (gazetteer)"". Property Location Browser. Government of South Australia. Retrieved 23 May 2016.
  5. Mawson (Map). Electoral District Boundaries Commission. 2016. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
  6. "Federal electoral division of Mayo, boundary gazetted 16 December 2011" (PDF). Australian Electoral Commission. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
  7. "Climate statistics for Kingscote". Australian Government, Australian Bureau of Meteorology.
  8. Kingscote, South Australia Travelmate, Accessed 3 August 2018
  9. Kangaroo Island Council - Welcome
  10. Kostoglou, Parry; McCarthy, Justin (1991). Whaling and sealing sites in South Australia (First ed.). Fremantle, Western Australia: Australian Institute for Maritime Archaeology. pp. 30–3.
  11. "Reeves Point Settlement Site (listing RNE15625)". Australia Heritage Places Inventory. Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. Retrieved 17 July 2007."Reeves Point Settlement Site". Australian Heritage Places Inventory. Archived from the original on 2 April 2017.
  12. "Reeves Point Settlement Site, Seaview Rd, Kingscote, SA, Australia". Australian Heritage Database. Australian Government. Dept of the Environment and Energy. Retrieved 19 November 2019.
  13. ""WHAT'S IN A NAME."". The Advertiser. Adelaide. 16 April 1902. p. 4. Retrieved 9 December 2011 via National Library of Australia.
  14. "Dwelling ('Hope Cottage')". South Australian Heritage Register. Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  15. "'The Bluff' Cottage (formerly 'Reeves' Cottage, 'Seaview Farm')". South Australian Heritage Register. Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  16. "Combined Shop/Dwelling (originally Barrett's Store)". South Australian Heritage Register. Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  17. "Reeves Point Settlement Site (site of the first official settlement in the Colony), including cemetery, well and mulberry tree". South Australian Heritage Register. Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  18. "Old Government Quarry". South Australian Heritage Register. Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  19. "SCHOONER ASHORE". The Register (Adelaide). LXXII, (18, 910). South Australia. 22 June 1907. p. 8. Retrieved 4 June 2018 via National Library of Australia.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  20. "OZONE HOTEL". Daily Herald. 9, (2634). South Australia. 29 August 1918. p. 2. Retrieved 4 June 2018 via National Library of Australia.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  21. "MIDLAND LICENSING DISTRICT". The Register (Adelaide). LXXXVI, (23, 187). South Australia. 2 March 1921. p. 4. Retrieved 4 June 2018 via National Library of Australia.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  22. Council, Kangaroo Island (23 January 2015), Tidal Pool, Kingscote, Kangaroo Island Council, retrieved 23 December 2017
  23. "Kingscote Pool – Beach in Kingscote Kangaroo Island SA". SLS Beachsafe. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  24. "The Kingscote Carnival & Regatta". Kangaroo Island Courier. Kingscote, SA. 17 January 1947. p. 3. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  25. "IMPROVEMENTS AT KINGSCOTE". The Advertiser. Adelaide. 4 June 1947. p. 5. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  26. "KINGSCOTE CHRISTMAS CARNIVAL". Kangaroo Island Courier. Kingscote, SA. 12 December 1947. p. 2. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  27. "The Shark Proof Swimming Enclosure". Kangaroo Island Courier. Kingscote, SA. 13 February 1948. p. 2. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  28. "The Kingscote and District Program Association Inc". Kangaroo Island Courier. Kingscote, SA. 26 November 1948. p. 1. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  29. "SHARK PROOF SWIMMING POOL". Kangaroo Island Courier. Kingscote, SA. 12 December 1947. p. 2. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  30. "Kingscote District Progress Association". Kangaroo Island Courier. Kingscote, SA. 30 September 1949. p. 2. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  31. "Kingscote District Progress Association". Kangaroo Island Courier. Kingscote, SA. 3 June 1949. p. 2. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  32. "Kingscote & District Progress Association". Kangaroo Island Courier. Kingscote, SA. 29 September 1950. p. 4. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  33. Black, Shauna "Local politics blamed for penguin inaction" The Islander, Kangaroo Island, South Australia (2013-06-06). Retrieved 2014-02-07.
  34. Wiebken, A. S. "Conservation management priorities for little penguin populations in Gulf St Vincent" Adelaide & Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resource Management Board / SARDI, South Australia (2011–06). Retrieved 2014-02-06.
  35. Austin, Nigel "Kangaroo Island little penguins at giant risk as colony drops to 20" The Advertiser, South Australia (2013-07-29). Retrieved 2014-02-06.
  36. "Penguin populations dropping". The Islander. Kangaroo Island, South Australia. 24 July 2014. Retrieved 26 July 2014.
  37. "PENGUINS ARE WORTH £5 EACH". The Kangaroo Island Courier. 24 November 1934. p. 2. Retrieved 5 July 2015.
  38. "Field Naturalists Cruise to Kangaroo Island." South Australian Weekly Chronicle, South Australia (1888-04-14). Retrieved 2014-03-12.
  39. Canyon "KANGAROO ISLAND. PICTURESQUE AND PRODUCTIVE." Chronicle, South Australia (1911-12-02). Retrieved 2014-02-26.
  40. "Bird Life on Kangaroo Island". The Kangaroo Island Courier. 26 June 1915. p. 6. Retrieved 5 July 2015.
  41. "A Trip to Kangaroo Island" Burra Record, South Australia (1934-01-17). Retrieved 2014-02-26.
  42. George, Elisabeth "LIFE and LETTERS" The West Australian, Western Australia (1938-04-30). Retrieved 2014-02-26.
  43. Shoppee, Rosemary (27 December 1946). "Five Stars Club for Young Catholics – PENGUINS, SEAGULLS & COCKLES". Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  44. Conservation parks of Kangaroo Island management plan Parks & Wildlife Service, Department of Environment & Planning, South Australia (1987–12). ISBN 0 7243 8983 0
  45. Peel, M. C. and Finlayson, B. L. and McMahon, T. A. (2007). "Updated world map of the KöppenGeiger climate classification". Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. 11: 1642. doi:10.5194/hess-11-1633-2007. ISSN 1027-5606.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) (direct: Final Revised Paper)
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