Backstairs Passage

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Backstairs Passage
KangarooIslandMap.png
Location of Backstairs Passage between the eastern end of Kangaroo Island and the Fleurieu Peninsula
Backstairs Passage is located in South Australia
Backstairs Passage
Backstairs Passage
Location in South Australia
Location South Australia
Coordinates 35°41′1″S 138°4′23″E / 35.68361°S 138.07306°E / -35.68361; 138.07306Coordinates: 35°41′1″S 138°4′23″E / 35.68361°S 138.07306°E / -35.68361; 138.07306
Type strait
Basin countries Australia
Max. depth 73 metres (240 ft)[1]
Islands The Pages
Settlements Cape Jervis, Pennshaw


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 Matthew Flinders whilst he and his crew on HMS Investigator were exploring and mapping the coastline of South Australia in 1802.

Discovery and exploration[edit]

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 that 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.’[2]

Maritime history[edit]

Shipwrecks[edit]

  • San Pareille - brigantine wrecked between Cape Jervis and Lands End on 30 January 1855.[3]
  • Vanquish - schooner wrecked near Fishery Beach in early December 1864.[4]
  • Hopper Barge No.3 - hopper barge sunk at Lands End on 21 October 1880 during the operation to refloat the stranded SS Sorata.[5]
  • Ferret - fishing cutter wrecked at Waitpinga Beach in December 1932.[6]
  • Grelka - schooner wrecked near Cape St Alban, Kangaroo Island, on 25 January 1955.[7]
  • Galini - crayboat wrecked near the Pages during November 1981.[8]

Protected areas[edit]

Protected areas located within and adjoining the strait’s extent include:

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ South Australia. Department of Marine and Harbors (1985), The Waters of South Australia a series of charts, sailing notes and coastal photographs, Dept. of Marine and Harbors, South Australia, pp. Chart 12, ISBN 978-0-7243-7603-2 
  2. ^ Flinders (1966) [1814], p. 262
  3. ^ Coroneos (1997), p. 57
  4. ^ Coroneos (1997), pp. 75-76
  5. ^ Coroneos (1997), pp. 80-82
  6. ^ Coroneos (1997), pp. 91-92
  7. ^ Coroneos (1997), pp. 95-96
  8. ^ Coroneos (1997), p. 97
  9. ^ Island conservation parks of Backstairs Passage and Encounter Bay management plans. Adelaide: National Parks and Wildlife Service. 1983. pp. 1–3. ISBN 0-7243-4588-4. 
  10. ^ "Baudin Conservation Park". Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. Retrieved 18 June 2014. 
  11. ^ "Lashmar Conservation Park". Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. Retrieved 18 June 2014. 
  12. ^ "Cape Willoughby Conservation Park". Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. Retrieved 18 June 2014. 
  13. ^ "Deep Creek Conservation Park". Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. Retrieved 18 June 2014. 
  14. ^ "Newland Head Conservation Park". Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. Retrieved 18 June 2014. 
  15. ^ "Encounter Marine Park Management plan summary". Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. p. 2 of 6. Retrieved 17 June 2014. 

References[edit]