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All reviewswoodward hutlight houselighthouse keeperskangaroo islandremote locationfriendly kangaroosstayed for two nightsgravel roadthe kitchenthe cottagesmickrangercannonsunsettoiletheatersa
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Reviewed March 22, 2017

We love staying at Lighthouse keepers accommodation. You are always guaranteed delightful views ... and almost always a degree of isolation. This place has both in spades!!

Cape Borda lightstation is on the north western tip of Kangaroo Island, and administered by the state's Parks and Wildlife service. It is a remote location, and visitors are urged to have a good degree if independence. Nearest civilisation is tiny speck of a town Pardana roughly 70KM to the east along a quiet, animal prone road, roughly 30Km of which is delightful ochre coloured dirt, in various states of roughness depending upon when the grader visited last. Nearest medical assistance is at Kingscote - Kangaroo Island's "big smoke" - situated nearly on the opposite side of the Island.

Having said that though, there is a single ranger presence, and this gent is first aid trained. I would suggest he likely has a comprehensive first aid skillset in fact!! Remember though that the station is closed on Wednesdays and Thursdays so the ranger can have his weekend.

There is NO Optus mobile cover, and very patchy Telstra. I would strongly suggest a Telstra handset, and preferably one rated for remote reception for your Kangaroo Island visit. We always travel with a handheld EPIRB .... these are freely available these days and are inexpensive for the reassurance they provide.

So is was that we arrived ON A THURSDAY to find a locked gate 600M before the lighthouse!! Was able to phone the National Parks staff on a scratchy 0.5 bar reception status (and the call dropped a couple of times) ... who, after a little rummaging were able to provide us with a keycode to retrieve the key from the coded box on the gate .... PHEW!! Apparently their "systems had changed" in the past 7 months since we had booked ... which apparently explained why we'd never been sent a code.

BEWARE!!!!! Dunno what would have happened had we arrived after business hours!!

Anyway, the same code accesses a similar box to retrieve the door key at the cottage booked. We had chosen Flinders Light Lodge - the only real option for a family with more than one or two kiddies. Both other available options - Hartley and Woodward huts are tiny in comparison. This cottage is situated adjacent to that used by the ranger, and is close to the lighthouse itself. There is an emergency phone situated beside the toilet of this cottage, and folks from the other two cottages may access this too. This would have been perfect to use in the event of that gate lockout!!

All useful furnishings are provided, apart from a washing machine. The toilet is attached to the residence, but situated out the back door, and as others have said, make sure you don't let the door slam and lock you out if you happen to be there alone! Kitchen implements are a little tired, but still functional. We have stayed at lots of lighthouse accommodation, and this seems to be the norm. If you have a liking for a delicious stirfry or the like, you'd better take your own non-stick wok with you .... as there is NEVER anything remotely non-stick at lighthouse accommodation!!

Basically the place lets you live pretty much how the keepers would have, and it's comfortable. Gas heater in the old fireplace grate in the loungeroom, and the occasional oil filled column heater for winter. Glorious weather for our two day visit, and we needed neither.

Linen provided, but at this place you are discouraged from accessing any extras at all, and we noted that no face washers were provided. So if you dirty that tea towel, or the towels provided to you .... tough luck!! Remember to take all consumables with you .... no soap provided, but dishwashing liquid is, along with some very basic salt/pepper type stuff in a kitchen cupboard.

The entire precinct's grounds compose almost exclusively of packed bare dirt, with tiny gravel pebbles, evoking a certain harshness; but here and there vivid little sprigs of "naked lady" flowers pop out. The local friendly kangaroos seem to manage though, and the surrounding scrub comprises that beautiful, hardy coastal heathland that suggests explosions of colour in wildflower season. The structures within the perimeter are enclosed within neat white painted rock fences or boundaries.

Lighthouse tours occur daily - apart from Wednesdays/Thursdays of course, at a few different times. These will likely have day-trippers in the company as well. Charges apply, and unlike some other lightstations, the fee is NOT included in your stay. The midday tour concludes with the firing of the time cannon outside the light at 1300hrs sharp. It's VERY loud, and has a quite distinguished muzzle flash!!

All of the more remote lighthouses have their own graveyards, and Cape Borda was no exception .... if you want to develop a real appreciation of adversity, take a walk through some of them. This one was a 5KM or so drive back along the entrance road, situated within a nice little fence. Here you will see the grave of the original keeper who died after developing sepsis from a stump piercing his eye. Took him 11 or 12 days to go ... then there's the grave of young son of another keeper that developed scarlet fever and died over a few days. The keeper had to helplessly watch him die, then make the coffin, dig the grave, and officiate at the burial. The pain in his words as he matter-of-factly reported the occurrence in the daily log was palpable.

Near here is the rocky, rather dangerous little cove known as Harvey's Return ... where the station's stores arrived anywhere from 3 to 12 monthly, then unloaded, god willing, in rather dangerous conditions. You can walk to this from the cemetary, although the last 100 metres or so follows the original pathway hewn into the hillside for the little tramway that hauled the gear up the steepest part. Steep, and rough on the feet.

Overall the place lived up to our expectations. The quiet, and the stars at night were gob-smacking!! The pricing for such stays on Kangaroo Island seems to be set at a standard rate for the 3 different available lighthouse stays by the Parks service, and really is towards the steeper side. This is fair enough when you consider the unique-ness of the places. However we think that this price could include the gesture of the lighthouse tour without adding any particular burden to the staff.

Oh ... and if you're feeling extra generous, take them a new vacuum cleaner - the one there really sucks ..... errrrmmm - actually - it doesn't!!!

Room Tip: Flinders Light lodge is the largest available accommodation. Good access and long driveway for car, but no cover as such.
  • Stayed: March 2017, traveled with family
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Thank Meawls
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 30, 2017

Cape Borda Lighthouse (managed by DEWNR SA) provides three accommodation options and we recently stayed at Flinders Light Lodge; which is the largest being a fully self-contained three bedroom house. It was built in the 1930s and until the lightstation was automated in the 1980s served as the residence for the lighthouse keeper’s family.

The house itself is pretty much unchanged since it was built apart from a kitchen refurbishment probably done in the 1970s. It is basic, clean and comfortable with bedding for 6 (a queen bed in the main bedroom and two single beds in the other two bedrooms). Linen and towels are provided and the kitchen has the necessary basics.

As a family we stayed at Flinders Light Lodge back in 2006 and it was comfortable and reassuring to find it pretty much unchanged (a lot has changed since then – Australia has had 5 Prime Ministers!). You still get a sense of the hard life of the lighthouse keeper, Cape Borda even these days still feels incredibly remote although it is now possible to get a (weak) mobile phone and internet signal which certainly wasn’t the case when we last visited. Slowly but surely the modern world keeps expanding!

Mick is the resident manager for DEWNR at Cape Borda and, as well as looking after the small shop and heritage accommodation, he provides his own unique and entertaining commentary in guided tours of the Cape Borda lighthouse – the last true lighthouse in SA, all others have been converted to beacons.

Staying at Cape Borda won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, the nearest town of any description (Parndana) is about 1-1/2 hours away so you need bring absolutely everything in with you. But if you enjoy peace and solitude in a remote and different setting, it is something special. There are a number of short to medium length walks that can be undertaken. We were blessed with two cloudless summer days during our stay; the perfect sunsets over the open ocean and magnificent chandelier of stars at night were incredible. Of course the working lighthouse, throwing its beams of white light into the black night sky and across the adjacent buildings, makes it a unique experience.

I can’t finish this review without commenting on the terrible condition of the access road when we visited. We’ve visited 3 times previously over the years but it has never been this bad before. The last 30kms into Cape Borda are on an unsealed road. The first 12kms or so were fine but once we passed the intersection with Shackle Road, the next 15kms or so were nothing short of disgraceful. Deep corrugations on the road made it impossible to go faster than 15km/h in places. We’re sure many potential visitors to Cape Borda would turn around and go back and you couldn’t blame them. Mick has taken it upon himself to twice a week hitch a home-made blade behind his 4WD which he drags across the 5kms or so of road nearest the lighthouse to smooth it out. The access road is actually a State Highway – B23, the Playford Highway – and it is unbelievable that the Kangaroo Island Council could allow the only access road to one of the island’s tourist attractions (which provides guided tours and accommodation) to deteriorate so badly.

  • Stayed: January 2017, traveled with family
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3  Thank Jeanie U
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 6, 2017

This is well worth the trip. Mick, the tour guide is a hoot and his presentation is really interesting. I suggest you take the 12.30 tour that includes the cannon firing. A very picturesque location that has played an important part in naval history in this part of the world.

Stayed: December 2016, traveled with family
Thank nppjrp
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 28, 2016 via mobile

It's a bit of a drive along unsealed roads to get here. At the time we visited (December 16), sections of the road were quite bumpy and in need of maintenance.

The lighthouse was closed on Xmas day but we managed to visit the lookouts which is quite spectacular! Beautiful location.

Stayed: December 2016, traveled as a couple
Thank Tom L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 10, 2016

We stayed in Woodward Hut, very affordably priced at $50.00 per night. Basic accommodation in a small room with no running water and the toilet block is 60m away, but comfortable enough to cook a meal and have a warm cosy evening watching the light from the lighthouse turn and looking up at the magnificent array of stars. We loved it and would like to return one day to do the full tour of the lighthouse and surrounds. We did to the walk to the Ravine des Cesoars and can highly recommend it as a half day trip. Look out for monitor lizards in warm weather.

  • Stayed: August 2016, traveled as a couple
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Thank Lorraine P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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