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Prehistoric Scratchpad

Island off the coast of Australia. It separated from the mainland when the waters rose 10,000 years ago, an event which is remembered by the Aboriginal people.


10,000 Years Ago[]

Kangaroo Island was a part of the Australian Mainland, but then, sometime between 9,800 and 10,650 years ago, the sea levels rose, causing this to become an island. The Ngarrindjeri aboriginal people, who occupied the area of this time, developed a legend telling of this event, which may be a memory.

Earlier History[]

Cambrian life thrived here and many fossils from this era around 500 Million Years ago were found, including those of the compound eyes of insect-like predators.

Humans first settle Australia 65,000 years ago.

The island alternately became joined and separated from the mainland as the sea levels rose and fell. Many marsupials roamed this area during the ice age, including Tasmanian tigers, diprotodon (rhino-sized), tasmanian devils, and quolls. They left their footprints on a beach on Dudley Peninsula 20,000 to 200,000 years ago.

Aboriginees may have first lived on the island about 16,000 years ago, which was a part of the mainland at this time.

The Ngarrindjeri aboriginal people may have came to occupy their traditional territory in Australia by about 10,000 years ago, which included this area.

Later History[]

The earliest archaeological evidence of the Ngarrindjeri inhabiting this area is 8,500 years ago.

The Ngarrindjeri people tell of a Dreaming story of one of their mythical founders Ngurunderi, which includes an explanation for why the waters rose and Kangaroo Island became an island. In these Dreamings, Kangaroo Island is known as the Karta Island ("Island of Spirits" or "Island of the Dead"). In one tale, his two wives eat forbidden food and escape him as he chases them. Landforms across the Murray River are formed during his pursuit and the adventures he has along the way. When the wives make it to Backstairs Passage, which at this time was low enough to be crossed by foot, with the intention of making it across to the island of spirits, Ngurunderi decides that they should be taught a lesson and causes the sea to rise, drowning them. Nepelle turns them into stone (today known as the Pages Islets) as a warning to women to never eat forbidden food. This story is retold orally for ten thousand years and is recorded by the British settlers soon after they arrive.

After the island was joined to the mainland, Aboriginees continued to inhabit it until about 2 thousand years ago.

In 1802, British explorer Matthew Flinders named the island Kanguroo Island, after the western grey kangaroo found there. A French navigator then maps much of the island. A community of sealers settled there up until the time of South Australia's colonisation in 1836. These sealers would kidnap Aboriginal women and keep them there, who often tried to escape.

The passage between the island and mainland was treacherous, so the first light house in the area was build in 1852.

Modern History[]


Kangaroo Island is a part of South Australia, and one of its most popular tourist destinations. It is the third largest Island off of Australia.

Kangaroo Island Web Pages[]

Kangaroo Island In the News[]

500 Million Year Old Fossilized Compound Eyes Discovered (Jul 2011)[]

Eyes of Anomalocaris Found (Dec 2011)[]

Prehistoric Stories Tell of Rising Sea Levels (Jan 2015)[]

Fossils of Prehistoric Creatures Found (Jul 2017)[]

Footprints of Prehistoric Animals Found (Aug 2017)[]



Welcome to the Wild World of Kangaroo Island National Geographic

National Geographic travel piece on Kangaroo Island.


Kangaroo Island, Australia - Lonely Planet travel video

Travel video for Kangaroo Island


Ngarrindjeri - Karta Island

Tale about Ngurunderi and Kangaroo Island.


We Are Ngarrindjeri

Video celebrating the Ngarrindjeri people.


ABC News 24 - Dr Christopher Wilson - Ngarrindjeri archaeology

News about the first indigenous australian to graduate with a PhD in archaeology.

Google Earth[]