Reevesby Island

May 14, 2024 Eyre Peninsula

Reevesby Island

On February 26, 1802, Matthew Flinders wrote in his journal:

"Three small Isles have been seen from Thistle's Isle and their bearings set; and the discovery of them now augmented by several others, forming a cluster to the eastward of Point Bollingbroke. This was called the Sir Joseph Banks Group, in compliment to the Right Honourable President of the Royal Society to whose exertion and favour the voyage was so indebted."

Flinders charted 20 Islands, Islets and Reefs forming a cluster about 50 km ENE of Port Lincoln.

From 1865 until 1974 several attempts were made to farm Reevesby Island one of the larger in the Group. The Islands (except Spilsby) are now a Conservation Park and much of the surrounding water is Marine Park. This is a haven for the wildlife that forage and breed in the area including the endangered Australian Sea Lion.

Reevesby Island offers safe anchorage in most weather conditions and is a mecca for boats of all sizes that tend to anchor in the Lagoon at night and explore the surrounding Islands by day.


The Island offers white sandy beaches on the Eastern, Western and North sides meaning that in most weather conditions a safe anchorage can be found. The beaches provide space to walk and explore where you or your group may well be the only people in the Bay.

Occasional rocky outcrops reveal treasure from the deep in the form of turban shells and black cowries.

Sunrises and sunsets at Reevesby Island are often spectacular as the sea-breeze often gives way to calm, glassy nights.


Days can be spent beach-combing, fishing, snorkelling or just reading a book in the shade of the back deck.

King George Whiting and Squid are both highly prized fishing species and readily available for those with the patience to dangle a line.

A regular treat is to visit nearby Blythe Island for a swim with the Sea Lions. The Australian Sea Lions are generally more than happy to join in a swim and a play. We have been fortunate to swim with them on many occasions and every time it turns out to be an unforgettable experience.

Not all wildlife out here is friendly and when walking on the Island, it's best to keep your eyes open, wear shoes and long pants on the off-chance you should encounter a Reevesby Island Tiger Snake (5th deadliest snake in the world) or a Death Adder hiding in the leaf litter or seaweed.

The Island is also home to a small endangered marsupial the Stick-Nest Rat. They can sometimes be seen scurrying out of the way around rocky outcrops and are known to build their stick nests around the Homestead Sheds.

Birdlife is a treat with regular sightings of Hooded Plover, White-bellied Sea-Eagle, Barn Owl, Osprey, Cape Barren Geese and Little Penguins can be heard coming ashore on dusk.

Time Out with Friends

For more than 20 years we have met a stream of wonderful people on the beaches at Reevesby Island, many who have become life long friends. There is a golden rule that all campfires (BYO Wood) are a shared event, so if there is a gathering with a fire on the beach, everyone is welcome. There is nothing like sitting around a campfire hearing all manner of stories from all manner of folk and we are often entertained by talented friends who can sing, play the guitar or simply tell a joke.

There are a couple of other rules when going ashore or visiting other vessels .... "the skipper always secures (anchors / ties) his/her own dinghy" lest it should come adrift.

The Homestead

The Homestead and Sheds on Reevesby Island are the last remaining buildings in South Oz that show early Farming life on the Islands. After a renovation by the Tumby Bay Area School Students in the 1980's to save them from ruin, they have again been slowly falling into disrepair until someone wrote in the visitors book that "someone should do something".

Eric Kotz, a Tumby Bay fellow with a long history and connection to this and the surrounding islands thought "Well I guess I might as well be that someone".

Soon after, the friends group, "Friends of Reevesby Island" was formed. It consisted of a band of willing volunteers from Tumby Bay and Port Lincoln with great help from Friends of Parks SA and Shark Cage Diving - Calypso Star Charters.

The stone wall in the kitchen was high priority and was slowly rebuilt to ensure the fierce winter winds and rain did not put the homestead beyond rescue.

Floor boards throughout were replaced, the roofing iron replaced and the timber exterior given a coat of oil and paint.

Over the past three years the Homestead has been returned to some of its former glory and the Friends of Reevesby Island have taken great pride in what has been achieved.