After almost 85 years, Weeroona Island is yielding up its secrets.
So far the remains of a terrazzo floor, a winding dirt track and a rock-pool swimming pond have been discovered – all linked to the one-time Weeroona Holiday Camp.
The discoveries come on the eve of a survey that asks eligible residents to vote whether the island should be named Weeroona Island or Port Flinders.
Islander and historian Den Kennedy says the spot should be called Weeroona Island, otherwise it “makes a lie” of the camp’s history as well as the previous use of the location as an army ammunition dump in World War II.
“If it is called Port Flinders, it means it did not happen,” he said.
About a month ago, Mr Kennedy confirmed the ruins of the camp which was opened in 1929 as a holiday-makers’ retreat, complete with huts, tents and dance hall.
“They had 600 people at the opening and 400 stayed for the dance afterwards,” he said after pouring over old photographs, council records and newspaper clippings. The camp came to life after the then BHAS smelter used 13 barges to relocate the buildings from a resort at Point Lowly, near Whyalla, to the island.
Mr Kennedy said that the Point Lowly resort had been used as a venue at which smelter workers with high lead levels could go to recover.
The smelter then made an offer to Port Pirie Corporation to move the camp to the island for use by the public.
As part of the arrangements, the council built a road to the isolated site.
The council contributed to the project with in-kind support, but there was strong opposition to the venture from within the Port Pirie comm unity.
“The Recorder newspaper was the biggest critic,” Mr Kennedy said.
“They thought it was going to cost ratepayers money and it was going to be on this barren hole, Mount Ferguson.
“You could not get there by road or boat. That is why no-one lived there.”
Today, Mr Kennedy has a new-found sense of history about the island that he lives on and loves.