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Wedge Island (South Australia)

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Location  Spencer Gulf
Wedge Island (South Australia)

Wedge Island is an island in the Australian state of South Australia located within the island group known as the Gambier Islands near the entrance to Spencer Gulf. It is the largest of the Gambier Islands, covers an area of about 10 square kilometres (3.9 sq mi) and is partly privately owned.

Contents

Description

There is a lighthouse at the south-eastern end, and highest point, of the island. There is an airstrip on the island as well as a jetty. The island is not permanently inhabited, but has buildings used for holiday accommodation and as a base for local and offshore recreational fishing. It is also a dive site.

History

Wedge Island was named in 1802 by Matthew Flinders. It was originally settled in the mid-19th century as a farm for breeding horses for the British Indian Army, with various agricultural activities such sheep and cattle grazing and wheat cropping continuing for the next 130 years. During World War II, Wedge Island was used as a radar station by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). A bunker was constructed near the lighthouse and was occupied by about 40 RAAF personnel for several years.

Fauna

The endangered Brush-tailed Bettong has been introduced to the island.

An account of the wildlife on Wedge Island from 1928 reads:

"The penguins were busy with their half-grown youngsters, and after dark the night echoed to their weird and ghostlike cries. Quail were plentiful among the grass paddocks and flew up almost from beneath our feet, while high above our heads a pair of wedge-tailed eagles wheeled and circled then planed slowly down to alight upon a lone pinnacle of the rocky western coast."

Little penguins are known to have lived on the island from at least as early as 1924. In 2004 there were estimated to be fewer than 100 little penguins in the colony.

Southern hairy-nosed Wombats were introduced in 1971 to boost tourism appeal and there are now about 300 living on the island.

Wedge Island Important Bird Area

Wedge island has been identified as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International, an international non-governmental organization, because it supports over 1% of the world population, with up to about 16,000 breeding pairs, of white-faced storm-petrels.

References

Wedge Island (South Australia) Wikipedia


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