The Rebuild Independence Group (RIG Inc.) is a not-for-profit Community group with the primary object of promoting the maritime heritage of American River, Kangaroo Island.
We do so by maintaining a small museum at our Boathouse, which features the building of a replica of the 1803 schooner Independence, the first vessel built in South Australia.
The American in our township's name refers to American sealers who were here in 1803, barely a year after Kangaroo Island was so named by the British explorer Matthew Flinders during his visit in March 1802. Flinders left Kangaroo Island in early April, 1802 and was bound for Port Jackson (now Sydney, NSW) when, on 8 April, he met the French explorer Nicolas Baudin. Flinders told Baudin of Kangaroo Island and how he could obtain fresh water and meat there.
Baudin visited in early 1803 when he circumnavigated the island, so being the first European to see and name much of the south coast. Baudin left the island around February 1803 heading west.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, at Stonington, Connecticut, a sealing ship Union under Captain Isaac Pendleton was being prepared to sail to the southern hemisphere. In early 1803, Pendleton was in King George Sound near what is now Albany, WA when he met Baudin. Baudin gave Pendleton copies of the charts of Australia which he had made or received from other sources and told Pendleton of the existence of Kangaroo Island (Baudin had named it Île deCres) and that he could get many seals there. Pendleton arrived in our sheltered inlet in April 1803 and decided to spend the winter here fruitfully by building a smaller vessel which would improve manoeverability in the small coves where seals gathered, and increase capacity to carry seal skins. Thus was born Independence.
Our goal is to rebuild Independence and build a lasting legacy to the pioneering spirit of those early sailors.