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Cape Borda Lightstation

  • Information Office
  • Accomm
  • Picnic Areas
  • Kiosk
  • BBQ Facilities
  • Toilets
  • Guided Tours
  • Camping
  • Disabled Toilets
  • Walking Trails
  • Bird Watching

About

Set within Flinders Chase National Park, Cape Borda Lighthouse is perched on cliffs overlooking Investigator Strait. Located on the north western corner of Kangaroo Island, this unique square lighthouse was built in 1858 and is steeped in European history.

To discover the maritime history of the area you can take a tour of the lightstation. The lighthouse area features a restored signal cannon, a museum and kiosk where refreshments and souvenirs are available. Don't miss the daily cannon firing on the 12.30 pm tour.

After exploring the lighthouse, enjoy a stroll along one of the walking trails around the park including the Cliff Top Hike. This short trail through a picturesque rock garden takes you to a stone lookout that provides an ideal vantage point for spotting whales and dolphins.

There is also a self-guided nature drive along Shackle Road between Cape Borda Lightstation and Flinders Chase Visitor Centre where you can explore the rugged western end of the island.

Opening hours

This park is open seven days a week from sunrise to sunset (except Christmas Day).

This park is closed on days of Catastrophic Fire Danger and may be closed on days of Extreme Fire Danger.

Listen to the local area radio station for the latest updates and information on fire safety. 

Cape Borda Visitor Centre

Open Friday to Tuesday.
Open daily during the spring, summer and autumn school holidays.

South Australian school holiday dates

Spring: 30 September 2017 - 15 October 2017
Summer: 16 December 2017 - 28 January 2018
Autumn: 14 April 2018 – 29 April 2018 

Lightstation tours

Friday - Tuesday: 11.00 am, 12.30 pm*, 2.00 pm
Daily during school holidays: 11.00 am, 12.30 pm*, 2.00 pm, 3.15 pm and 4.00 pm

Tours run for approximately 45 minutes.

*Cannon firing is conducted on the 12.30 pm tour

Self-guided tour

A self-guided walk is also available when the visitor centre is closed.

Contact details

Cape Borda Lightstation

Phone: (+61 8) 8553 4465
Email: CapeBorda@sa.gov.au

Accommodation bookings and enquiries

Phone: (+61 8) 8553 4410
Email: KIParksAccom@sa.gov.au

When to visit

Flinders Chase is a paradise all year round. The mood of the park changes with the seasons. In winter, you’ll see the diverse colours and shapes of fungi, and orchids begin to bloom. The rivers and creeks are flowing and it’s a great time for staying in the park’s heritage-listed accommodation. Imagine a winter getaway staying in a light keeper's cottage in front of a warming wood fire, listening to the Southern Ocean pounding on the rocks below.

Spring brings prolific wildflowers, the frogs call and the birds and animals are breeding. Spring and summer are a wonderful time for camping, picnicking and exploring the many walking trails throughout the park. Summer is a busy time with mostly mild weather perfect for beach going.

Getting there

Cape Borda Lighstation is located in Flinders Chase National Park, 110km west of Kingscote, on the north western tip of Kangaroo Island.

You can get to Kangaroo Island from mainland South Australia on the SeaLink ferry. This vehicle and passenger ferry operates daily (except Christmas Day) between Cape Jervis (two hours south of Adelaide) and Penneshaw, Kangaroo Island. The journey takes 45 minutes for the 16km crossing.

Visit the SeaLink website for more information and bookings.

Accessibility

The Cape Borda Lightstation museum  is accessible, and with some assistance you could make your way up to the base of the lighthouse. Accessible toilet and BBQ facilities are also available. 

For more information, check out Your guide to accessible features in some of KI’s national parks on Good Living

 

 

Dogs not allowed

Dogs are not permitted in this park.

Discover which parks you can walk your dog in on our find a park tool or read 12 dog-friendly walks in Adelaide Parks by Good Living for inspiration.

Assistance dogs

Assistance dogs are permitted in most public places and are therefore welcome in South Australia’s parks and reserves. Assistance dogs must be appropriately restrained on a lead and remain under your effective control at all times while in a park or reserve.

As per the dogs in parks and reserves policy, if the dog is not an accredited assistance dog, they must be trained to assist a person with a disability to alleviate that disability and meet standards of hygiene and behaviour appropriate for a dog in a public place. However, refusal may be given if the person with the disability is unable to produce evidence the dog is an assistance dog with the appropriate training.

Before taking your assistance dog into a park that does not normally allow dogs, it is highly recommended that you contact us so we can provide you with the latest information on any potential hazards within specific parks that may affect your dog. Please contact the park via the contact details provided under the contact tab or call the information line on (+61 8) 8204 1910.

Facilities

There is an information office, heritage accommodation, picnic areas, kiosk, BBQ facilities, toilets and disabled toilets located at Cape Borda Lightstation.

Camping facilities are available at Harvey's Return just east of Cape Borda.

Useful information

Pests and diseases

Phytophthora (fy-TOFF-thora), otherwise known as root-rot fungus, is killing our native plants and threatens the survival of animals depending on plants for food and shelter.

This introduced fungus can be found in plant roots, soil and water. Help stop the spread by using hygiene stations, staying on tracks and trails and by complying with all Phytophthora management signs.

Traditional owners

Aboriginal peoples have occupied, enjoyed and managed the lands and waters of this State for thousands of generations. For Aboriginal first nations, creation ancestors laid down the laws of the Country and bestowed a range of customary rights and obligations to the many Aboriginal Nations across our state. 

There are many places across the State that have great spiritual significance to Aboriginal first nations.  At some of these places Aboriginal cultural protocols, such as restricted access, are promoted and visitors are asked to respect the wishes of Traditional Owners.

In places where protocols are not promoted visitors are asked to show respect by not touching or removing anything, and make sure you take all your rubbish with you when you leave.

Aboriginal peoples continue to play an active role in caring for their Country, including in parks across South Australia. 

European history

The Cape Borda lighthouse was built in 1858, and is the third oldest remaining in South Australia. It’s also the only square stone lighthouse in South Australia and only one three lighthouses in Australia to retain a Deville lantern room.

It was built to guide sailing ships arriving off the Roaring Forty trade-winds and into the Investigator Straits.

Apart from warning ships of danger, the lightstation at Cape Borda was also a lookout for Russian ships. A small cannon was installed there – it was used to signal ships of danger before radio was available and to appear as if there was a military presence.

The light was converted to automatic operation in 1989.

See and do

Rangers recommend

We have picked the brains of our park rangers to find out what they would recommend you see and do whilst visiting this park.

  • Getting up early and witness spectacular sunrises.
  • Staying in the lighthouse keeper's cottages is a must.
  • Explore the surrounding park, keep an eye out for the local wildlife.

Bushwalking

Bushwalking is a fantastic way to connect with nature, keep fit and spend time with family and friends. South Australia's national parks feature a range of trails that let you experience a diversity of landscapes.

Moderate hikes

  • Clifftop Hike (30 mins return, 1km)

    This short trail is the perfect complement to a guided tour at Cape Borda Lightstation. Meander through the picturesque rock gardens, and observe how the vegetation shortens and changes as you near the cliff top. A stone lookout provides an ideal vantage point for spotting whales and dolphins.

    Access: this trail starts at Cape Borda Lightstation.

    More information and maps can be found in the Parks of Kangaroo Island guide.

  • Return Road Hike (3 hrs return, 9km)

    Starting at Harveys Return this hike wanders through low Sugar Gum woodland, passing groves of native pine near the Lightkeepers Cemetery. Take a side trip when you cross the road to view the spectacular coastline at Scott Cove. The hike follows the lightkeepers’ old cart track used for transporting supplies between Harveys Return and Cape Borda, which they called ‘The Return Road’. Look for cobblestones which indicate the alignment of the original track.

    Access: this hike can begin at either Harveys Return or Cape Borda Lightstation.

    More information and maps can be found in the Parks of Kangaroo Island guide.

Camp in the park

Bush camping is available at nearby Harvey's Return.

Stay in lighthouse keeper's accommodation

Explore the remote area of Cape Borda during the day then spend the night in heritage accommodation beside the Cape Borda Lightstation. Choose from the gracious stone Flinders Light Lodge, one bedroom Hartley Hut or cute Woodward Hut, and experience life by the rugged cliff tops.

Stay for five nights in the park's heritage accommodation and receive a free Kangaroo Island Tour Pass.

Flinders Light Lodge

A spacious, comfortable limestone cottage that once housed the lighthouse keeper and his family. Ideally situated with glorious sea views, the lodge features three bedrooms that sleep up to seven people (linen included) and a large fully equipped kitchen with separate dining and lounge room. An outdoor setting and barbeque facilities are also available.

Hartley Hut

A self-contained cabin which originally served as the relieving keeper's quarters. The cosy hut offers fantastic opportunities to see abundant wildlife from your doorstep. The hut sleeps three people and features one double bedroom and the option of a trundle bed in the central lounge, fully equipped kitchen and dining area. Linen is included.

Woodward Hut

A quaint small single room stone hut that sleeps two people. It provides a roof over your head, and the toilet facilities are just a short walk away. (There is no shower in Woodward Hut.) Facilities include two single beds, a small fridge, microwave, electric cook top, toaster, kettle, and heating. Linen is available for hire or bring your sleeping bag.

Accommodation bookings and enquiries

Book online
Phone: (+61 8) 8553 4410
Email: KIParksAccom@sa.gov.au

Lightstation tours

Step back in time and learn about what it was like to be a lightstation keeper at Cape Borda. The local guide will transport you as they narrate the history of this iconic and rugged site.

Guided tours

Friday - Tuesday: 11.00 am, 12.30 pm*, 2.00 pm
Daily during school holidays: 11.00 am, 12.30 pm*, 2.00 pm, 3.15 pm, 4.00 pm

South Australian school holiday dates

Spring: 30 September 2017 - 15 October 2017
Summer: 16 December 2017 - 28 January 2018
Autumn: 14 April 2018 – 29 April 2018 

Tours run for approximately 45 minutes.

*Cannon firing is conducted on the 12.30 pm tour

Whale watching

Between mid-May and late October whales migrate from sub-Antarctic water to the comparatively warmer waters of the South Australian coast to calve and mate.  While our whale visitors are mostly southern right whales, we also have sightings of sperm whales, humpbacks, blue whales and the occasional orca. 

Cape Borda Lightstation is an ideal vantage point to see these majestic creatures.  If you are visiting during whale season, keep an extra keen eye on the ocean.

Flora

Fauna

In Flinders Chase National Park you can see a range of wildlife.   The park is also a haven for a diversity of woodland birds, many of which are declining on the mainland. Look for the bold colours of scarlet robins and golden whistlers. Listen for the rare western whipbird and fan-tailed cuckoo. Scan the coast during Winter and Spring for migrating whales or observe the resident fur seals all year round from an easy vantage point at Cape du Couedic.

Here are some of the animals you may encounter:

Kangaroo Island kangaroo
This kangaroo is smaller, darker and longer furred than its closest mainland relative. During the day they often rest under vegetation, coming out to graze in the early morning and late afternoon. Spot one in this park or at these alternative locations:

  • At Black Swamp at Flinders Chase National Park
  • At Grassdale in Kelly Hill Conservation Park. Park at the gate on the South Coast Road and follow the 2 km track to an open area near an old cottage.
  • Lathami Conservation Park and surrounding paddocks. Enter the park through the double gates around 3 km south east of the Stokes Bay Café along the North Coast Road.
  • On the Hog Bay Road from Prospect Hill to Baudin Beach. Take care when parking. Ensure your car is completely off the road when parked.

Tammar wallaby
These wallabies are nocturnal and are best seen at dawn and dusk. During the day Tammar wallabies rest in dense, low vegetation. They move through tunnels in the vegetation from their daytime shelters to grassed areas to feed in the evening. Spot one in this park or at these alternative locations:

  • At Grassdale in Kelly Hill Conservation Park. Park at the gate on the South Coast Road and follow the 2 km track to an open area near an old cottage.
  • Around the campsites and down towards the jetty at Vivonne Bay.
  • Along the D’Estrees Bay Road up to Wheatons Beach in Cape Gantheaume Conservation Park.
  • In the township at Nepean Bay, via Western Cove Road.
  • In Baudin Conservation Park. Access to the carpark is along Frenchmans Terrace and south along Binneys Track.

Short-beaked echidna
Echidnas are found across Kangaroo Island in all types of habitat.  Short-beaked echidnas are generally solitary, but during the breeding season from May–September male echidnas form trains behind females. Echidnas can be seen throughout Kangaroo Island, across all types of habitat.

Platypus
Kangaroo Island contains the only wild population of platypus in South Australia.  In the 1920s concerned conservationists recognised platypus were becoming endangered on the mainland of South Australia and consequently introduced them to Flinders Chase National Park.  Watch for platypus from the look outs located over the Rocky River along the Platypus Waterholes Walk in Flinders Chase National Park.

Australian sea-lion
The Australian sea-lion is one of the rarest seals in the world. Seal Bay Conservation Park is home to the world’s third largest breeding colony. 
Spot one in this park or at these alternative locations: Seal Bay Conservation Park on a guided tour.

Long-nosed fur seals
Long-nosed fur seals live along rocky shores around Kangaroo Island where they rest and breed in colonies. 
Spot them at Admirals Arch in Flinders Chase National Park.

Glossy black-cockatoo
Glossy black-cockatoos feed during the day returning to their nests at dusk. Spot one in this park or at these alternative locations:

Koala
Koalas were not on Kangaroo Island at the time of European settlement. In the 1920s conservationists released 18 koalas in Flinders Chase National Park to save their declining mainland population.  The population quickly established and their numbers rapidly increased and koalas moved across the island.  Koalas spends most of the day resting in a tree fork, usually climbing into the canopy around dusk to feed. Look for their ball-shape high in the canopy, or as they move between branches. Spot one in this park or at these alternative locations:

  • Grassdale in Kelly Hill Conservation Park. Park at the gate on the South Coast Road and follow the 2 km track to an open area near an old cottage.
  • The Heritage Walk that starts at the Flinders Chase National Park Visitor Centre.
  • The scenic walking trail along Cygnet River at Duck Lagoon, accessed via Kookaburra Road.

Heath goanna
Heath goannas are active during the day and are often seen basking in the sun. Spot one here or at these alternative locations

  • Along any walk in Flinders Chase National Park. Park staff at the Flinders Chase Visitor Centre can help select the right walk for you.
  • On the Hanson Bay Hike in Kelly Hill Conservation Park. This 18 km return hike passes through Grassdale Lagoon to Hanson Bay.
  • At Bales Bay in Seal Bay Conservation Park.

Cape Barren goose
Cape Barren geese can be seen on Kangaroo Island from autumn through to early spring. Spot one in this park or at these alternative locations:

  • The grassy areas near the entrance of Flinders Chase National Park, where they breed.

Whales

There has been 29 different types of whales recorded in South Australia. The most common are the southern right whale, humpback whale, sperm whale, blue whale and orca whale (killer whale).  Of these you are most likely to spot a southern right whale along the South Australian coast.

Southern right whale
Every year, between May to October, southern right whales gather along the southern coastline of Australia to mate and calve, before returning to sub-Antarctic waters to feed.

The southern right whale is a large whale which can grow up to 17.5 metres and weigh over 80 tons.  The vast majority of southern right whales are black in colour with distinctive white patterns on their heads that are calluses formed by small crustaceans known as 'whale lice'.  The patterns are visible at birth and are unique to each whale allowing researchers to identify individual whales. 

Mountain biking

Mountain biking is currently not permitted in this park. 

Volunteering

 

Become a Campground Host

Combine your love of camping with doing a good deed by becoming a volunteer campground host in this park.

A campground host is a volunteer who stays at the park either for a specific peak period, like the Easter break or a long weekend, or an extended period of time (up to a few months) to support park rangers. 

If you are passionate about the environment, a keen camper, like to meet people from all around the world, and are a happy to help, then hosting could be right up your alley. 

Safety

Bushwalking

The international Trail Users Code of Conduct is to show respect and courtesy towards other trail users at all times.

Ensure that you:

  • when hiking, wear sturdy shoes, a hat and sunscreen
  • be aware of weather conditions and avoid walking during the hottest part of the day
  • make sure you have appropriate weather proof clothing
  • carry enough water to be self-sufficient
  • please be respectful of other users at all times
  • stay on the designated trails and connector tracks for your own safety, and prevent the spread of declared weeds to other areas in the park
  • ensure someone knows your approximate location and expected time of return
  • take appropriate maps.
  • Walk, hike or trek - what's the difference?

Fire

This park is closed on days of Catastrophic Fire Danger and may be closed on days of Extreme Fire Danger.

Listen to the local area radio station for the latest updates and information on fire safety. 

Fire restrictions

  • Wood fires and solid fuel fires are prohibited throughout the year.
  • Gas fires are permitted, other than on days of total fire ban.
  • Ensure you are familiar with the fire restrictions for this park.

Whale watching

Maintaining the legal distance from marine mammals such as whales, dolphins and seals is important, both for our safety and that of the animals.

The animals may be seriously injured if they are struck by a vessel or frightened young may become separated from their mothers. Even if there is no contact, coming too close can disrupt feeding, breeding and migratory behaviours.

Regular water users should make themselves familiar with all the rules for interacting with marine mammals by viewing the National Parks and Wildlife (Protected Animals – Marine Mammals) Regulations 2010.

In the Water

  • Prescribed vessels (high-powered craft such as jet-skis, hydrofoils and boats used for water skiing or paragliding): Never closer than 300m.
  • Other vessels (for example, cabin cruisers, yachts, ‘tinnies’, inflatables, kayaks, wind surfers and kite surfers): No closer than 100m.
  • Other vessels within 300m of a whale: No anchoring; maximum speed 4 knots; maximum time 60 minutes.
  • Swimmers (including surfers and boogie boarders): No closer than 30m.

On Land

  • No closer than 30m (or 50m if the whale is distressed, stranded or entangled)

In the air

  • Planes and remotely piloted aircrafts (drones) must be at least 300m from any whale or other marine mammal (additional Civil Aviation Safety Authority restrictions apply).
  • Helicopters and gyrocopters must be at least 500m from any whale or other marine mammal.

 Special rules exist for:

  • whale calves: all vessels and swimmers – no closer than 300m
  • distressed, stranded or entangled whales: all vessels and swimmers – no closer than 300m

Know before you go

Every national park is different, each has its own unique environment, it is important to be responsible while enjoying all the park has to offer.

Please ensure that you:

  • leave your pets at home
  • do not feed birds or other animals, it promotes aggressive behaviour and an unbalanced ecology
  • do not bring generators (except where permitted), chainsaws or firearms into the park
  • leave the park as you found it - place rubbish in the bins provided or take it with you
  • abide by the road rules (maintain the speed limit)
  • respect geological and heritage sites
  • do not remove native plants
  • are considerate of other park users.

  • Important: Collection of firewood within National Parks is prohibited.

Maps

Fees

Entry/tour fees

Cape Borda Lightstation tour fees

Adult - $16.00
Concession - $13.00
Child - $10.00
Family (2 adults & 2 children OR 1 adult and 3 children) - $42.00
School group (per person) - $9.00
Adult group (per adult, min 10 people) - $14.00
Self-guided tour, per person - $5.00

Kangaroo Island Tour Pass

Experience some of Kangaroo Islands most iconic sights at a discounted price by purchasing a Kangaroo Island Tour Pass.

Lighthouse keeper's accommodation

Heritage Accommodation

Stay for five nights in the park's heritage accommodation and receive a complimentary Kangaroo Island Tour Pass!

Flinders Light Lodge

Price per night (up to 2 people) - $225.00
Additional adult per night - $30.00
Additional child per night - $15.00
This cottage sleeps 7 people
(Discount rates between 1st May - 31st August)

Hartley Hut

Price per night (up to 2 people) - $150.00
Additional person per night - $30.00
This cottage sleeps 3 people
(Discount rates between 1st May - 31st August)

Woodward Hut

Price per night (per person) - $25
Linen hire fee (per person): $12.00 per stay
This cottage sleeps 2 people
(Discount rates between 1st May - 31st August)

Accommodation bookings and enquiries

Book online
Phone: (+61 8) 8553 4410
Email: KIParksAccom@sa.gov.au

Park pass

Purchase a Kangaroo Island Tour Pass which offers you 12 months access to Flinders Chase National Park and Seal Bay boardwalk/lookout, as well as admission to the following Kangaroo Island tours:

The Kangaroo Island Tour Pass can only be purchased at selected Parks Pass Outlets.

Other fees and permits

There are no other fees or permits associated with this park. 

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