The Backstairs Passage is a strait lying between Fleurieu Peninsula on the Australian mainland and the eastern end of Kangaroo Island in South Australia. The western edge of the passage is a line from Cape Jervis on Fleurieu Peninsula to Kangaroo Head (west of Penneshaw) on Kangaroo Island. The Pages, a group of islets, lie in the eastern entrance to the strait. About 14 km wide at its narrowest, it was formed by the rising sea around 13,000 years ago, at the end of the Pleistocene era, when it submerged the land connecting what is now Kangaroo Island with the Fleurieu Peninsula. Backstairs Passage was named by Captain Matthew Flinders whilst he and his crew on HMS Investigator were exploring and mapping the coastline of South Australia in 1802.
Discovery and exploration
Backstairs Passage was named by Matthew Flinders on 7 April 1802 whilst he and his crew on HMS Investigator were exploring and mapping the coastline of South Australia. Flinders noted the this body of water is separate to Investigator Strait and that ‘it forms a private entrance, as it were, to the two gulphs; and I named it Back-stairs Passage.’
- San Pareille - brigantine wrecked between Cape Jervis and Lands End on 30 January 1855.
- Vanquish - schooner wrecked near Fishery Beach in early December 1864.
- Hopper Barge No.3 - hopper barge sunk at Lands End on 21 October 1880 during the operation to refloat the stranded SS Sorata.
- Ferret - fishing cutter wrecked at Waitpinga Beach in December 1932.
- Grelka - schooner wrecked near Cape St Alban, Kangaroo Island, on 25 January 1955.
- Galini - crayboat wrecked near the Pages during November 1981.
- Flinders (1966) , p. 262
- Coroneos (1997), p. 57
- Coroneos (1997), pp. 75-76
- Coroneos (1997), pp. 80-82
- Coroneos (1997), pp. 91-92
- Coroneos (1997), pp. 95-96
- Coroneos (1997), p. 97
- Flinders, Matthew (1966) . A Voyage to Terra Australis : undertaken for the purpose of completing the discovery of that vast country, and prosecuted in the years 1801, 1802, and 1803 in His Majesty's ship the Investigator, and subsequently in the armed vessel Porpoise and Cumberland Schooner; with an account of the shipwreck of the Porpoise, arrival of the Cumberland at Mauritius, and imprisonment of the commander during six years and a half in that island. (Facsimile ed.). Adelaide; Facsimile reprint of: London : G. and W. Nicol, 1814 ed. In two volumes, with an Atlas (3 volumes): Libraries Board of South Australia. p. 262. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
- Coroneos, Cosmos (1997), Shipwrecks of Encounter Bay and Backstairs Passage, Australasian Institute for Maritime Archaeology & Australian National Centre of Excellence for Maritime Archaeology