Flinders Chase Centenary Commemoration
At noon on the 16th of October 2019 members of the three Kangaroo Island Friends of Parks groups and the community (and a few lucky tourists) gathered for a beautiful, moving and memorable commemoration of the founding of Flinders Chase 100 years ago.
Anthony Albrecht and Simone Slattery (Where Song Began) performed a repertoire of music to connect us with the landscape, on a stage half a billion years old, using instruments made 300 years ago, long before Europeans discovered the island. Anthony began by playing Australian composer Sarah Hopkins’ ‘Reclaiming the Spirit’, evoking whales calling, indigenous song and jumping kangaroos. Simone led the audience is singing ‘Ngarra Burra Ferra’, a traditional Yorta Yorta song – perhaps the first time in thousands of years that an indigenous song has been sung in that place.
We were thrilled that Joyce and George Lonzar joined us for the commemoration. Joyce first went to live at Flinders Chase in 1923, as a toddler with her parents Harry and Violet Hansen, who were the Rangers. Years later she married George, who was the third Ranger at the Chase, from 1950, where they lived until he retired in 1984.
Thank you to everyone who came. It was a powerful reverential experience, reminding us of the importance of the Chase and why we must now take up the baton to ensure it is protected into the future.
Wendy Haylock, former Education and Interpretive Officer for Kangaroo Island Parks, read historic passages, honouring the visionary naturalists who fought for thirty years to have the Chase declared a protected reserve:
Flinders Chase was established 100 years ago because a few very determined men saw the enormous value in protecting our native fauna and flora. In 1888, Arthur Robin wrote and presented ‘The Better Protection of Our Native Fauna and Flora’ to the Field Naturalist Section of the Royal Society of SA. He wrote… “The preservation of the indigenous animals and plants of the colony is a question of interest and importance to every part of the community. But strangers who come to our colony now, can form no adequate conception of its aspect half a century ago, when this remarkable life was in the fullness of its luxuriance in our richly wooden mountain glens and forest regions. Unless speedy measures of protection be adopted, the near future will see total exterminations.”
Samuel Dixon was a key player in the long struggle to have the ‘Chase’ proclaimed a park. At the end of the campaign he wrote… “Success is better late than never and if it were possible to make every Australian appreciative of his native land’s wonderfully beautiful Fauna and Flora – each separate state would vie in preserving them at any cost. It behoves every Australian to follow the example to Agitate, Agitate, Agitate until it becomes National policy.”
Samuel Dixon concluded that Flinders Chase would be an invaluable State possession proudly owned and an unmatchable treasure of the highest value to Australians and scientists of the world.
Click here to see a beautiful film by Kangaroo Island cinematographer Dave Foreman.