Squaring Off on the Coast of South Australia, This Lightstation Is Unique

July 13, 1858

A new lighthouse began operations at Cape Borda on Kangaroo Island in the colony (present-day state) of South Australia. Cape Borda Lightstation was built to help guide ships being pushed along by the strong “Roaring Forties” trade winds in that part of the world and – via the Investigator Strait between Kangaroo Island and the mainland — sailing to the port region of South Australia’s capital city of Adelaide.

Jean-Charles de Borda

Cape Borda Lightstation was originally called Flinders Light; Captain Matthew Flinders was an English navigator and cartographer who had sailed through the area in the early 19th century as part of his pioneering circumnavigation of the Australian coastline. (Cape Borda was named in honor of Jean-Charles de Borda, an 18th-century French mathematician, and astronomer who made innovative contributions to navigation.)

During Cape Borda Lightstation’s first several years of operation, there were not any roads directly connecting the structure with the rest of Kangaroo Island. This meant that supplies for Cape Borda Lightstation that were transported to the island via ships had to be delivered on a steel railway to a place near the lighthouse that is known as Harvey’s Return. The lighthouse’s keepers would then retrieve the supplies from that drop-off point.

A 1950 article written by Helen Curkeet and published in the Adelaide-based newspaper The Advertiser emphasized both the ongoing remoteness of Cape Borda Lightstation and its turbulent locale. Curkeet noted, “If the word ‘lighthouse’ brings to mind a vision of a storm-lashed coast, a white stone tower clinging to a rocky cliff, and a general atmosphere of loneliness, then Borda, the sentinel light of the north-west corner of Kangaroo Island, fits the picture admirably.”

Cape Borda Lightstation, which was automated in 1989, remains in service today. It is the third oldest lighthouse in South Australia still in existence and the only square stone lighthouse in that region. Cape Borda Lightstation has been on the South Australian Heritage Register for historic landmarks since 1980.

For more information on Cape Borda Lightstation, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cape_Borda_Lightstation and http://www.lighthouses.org.au/lights/SA/Cape%20Borda/Cape%20Borda.htm#History.

Additional information on lighthouses in South Australia is available at http://www.unc.edu/~rowlett/lighthouse/sa.htm.

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