HISTORY & OUR PLACE
One KI and Walcowrie were likely visited by Aboriginal Australians more than 10,000 years ago. Rising sea levels then separated Kangaroo Island and the mainland Kaurna people regarded the Island as the Land of the Dead, separated by the fearsome currents of Backstairs Passage.
Beneath the soil, there remain remnant fossil beds, once rich in molluscs.
Captain Matthew Flinders sailed in to the bay on 1802 and mapped the coastline.
Soon after, a tyranny of sealers, whalers and fur traders pillaged aboriginal women from Tasmania and mainland South Australia and enslaved them to trap, club and skin native animals.
The last Kangaroo Island Emu died in the garden of Josephine, a gift from the French explorer, Nicholas Baudin.
The land on which One KI and Walcowrie are nestled, will have been known as vegetated by senescent (old growth) coastal mallee and pine trees when our relatives travelled from Adelaide for gents fishing trips in the 1920s.The fishing was good enough for the first family purchase at American Beach in the 1920s.
In the 1940s, new owners came to Brown Beach, the Noack family, all comprising siblings, with the last the last of them Wal Noack dying in 1996. Initially the Noack plan was to grow vegetables to be sold to another sibling, a grocer in Penneshaw. There were also grand plans for a golf course.
To grow vegetables, the senescent mallee was burnt initially and repeated each year by the Noacks. Remarkably, irrigation water was harvested from a bore at the seaward base of the sand dune. A windmill powered the bore and a bicycle powered the large stationary motor. History and photos confirm that by the mid-1950s, the vegetable business had ceased, largely due to the hungry wildlife.
Errol Noack was the only son of Wal Noack and he spent many holidays with his father on the land. Errol was conscripted when his name was drawn from a ballot to serve in the Vietnam War. Errol was the first conscripted Australian, killed in action in Vietnam. Wal never forgot and never recovered from this tragedy.
We came to know Wal in the early 1990s, before being privileged to purchase the land in 1996. We too, like our earlier fishing relatives, were attracted to the fishing, the seclusion ,the sweeping white sand beach and the shell-collecting.
We named the first property Walcowrie, blending the previous owners name “Wal” with the good luck shell “cowrie”, that keen eyes found on the beach.
It would be fair to say that the clean up of the land was an enormous task over many years. There were dilapidated structures, many old cars and pre-World War 1 farm implements. Forty seven truck loads later, our revegetation project commenced, before we entered in to a Land Management Agreement covering both Walcowrie and One KI. During this time we stayed on school holidays in a simple caravan with our children. We would then return refreshed to our careers as School Principal and Lawyer.
We have deliberately chosen to preserve some of the prior history and farming relics, being a cultural connection with the past use of the land.
On New Years Eve 1999, our children greeted the new millennium with friends, sleeping in swags on the Walcowrie building frame.
At Christmas 2000, we shared our enjoyment of our new home, Walcowrie, with our extraordinary builders, Murray and Marie Harris.
Our love of Kangaroo Island has inspired the ethos of our habitat restoration and building design at both Walcowrie and One KI. We do feel so blessed and privileged to be the custodians of the land and committed to the terms of a Land Management Agreement in a Coastal Conservation Zone.
Sharing Walcowrie with others, provided vision for One KI and modest refinement of the Walcowrie design with architectural precision makes One KI absolutely stunning.
In June 2019, on completion of One KI by Peter Clark (another extraordinary builder), we welcomed our first international guests to One KI.
Then... the Kangaroo Island Bushfires in December 2019 for more than a month, finishing in early February 2020. These burnt much of the western end of the Island. We were untouched, but the media suggested the whole Island had burnt and described fanciful scenes like Armageddon. Those affected on the West End have shown themselves to be the most resilient, courageous and inspiring community.
On a large island, fires on the West End have burnt from north to south, in a single day, only three times in our lifetime.
It is a natural event we must recognise and respond to.
Then... COVID-19, resulting in international, state and regional lockdowns.
Our guests' experiences are of connection with the landscape (both restored and built), the sea and the wildlife, melded with fine food and wine (at One KI) and luxury personalised private accommodation in seclusion.
In our journey, we have many special moments, enjoying our home Walcowrie and more recently, One KI.
Octavia Hill, founder of the National Trust once wrote:
“We all want quiet. We all want beauty.We all need space…unless we have it, we cannot reach that sense of quiet in which the whispers of better things, come to us gently”.
This further epitomises One Kangaroo Island: Immersing your senses, savouring moments, wildlife, the setting and finding something set apart and unique from other offerings.
Welcome to One Kangaroo Island
Coreena and Hugh Rischbieth, Owners