Telling the stories of the development of the soldier settlement scheme on Kangaroo Island in the early 1950s, the museum was established in 2001 with funding from a Centenary of Federation grant. It is based in the Returned Service’s League Hall, dedicated as a memorial to Soldier Settlement.
The building now contains memorabilia, photographs and stories relating to the development of Parndana and surrounding districts. Visitors will learn how the land was cleared and improved for farming. The stories tell of their experiences, hardships, fellowship and humour that saw them successfully reshape their lives and build a community to be proud of. Tales of logging, chaining, dozing and lavvy lane will capture your imagination.
The collection includes the settlement’s first telephone box and the seat from the first school bus. Funded by a community arts grant, a series of dioramas telling the history of the area is contained in boxes set into the windows, and can be viewed from the outside of the building. There is also a shed beside the hall which contains agricultural equipment used by the soldier settlers.
Parndana is a small community 40 km west of Kingscote, Kangaroo Island’s largest town, and was established after the Second World War to support the Island’s Soldier Settlement Scheme.
Returned soldiers and their families began to arrive in the area in 1948 and occupied huts brought from a former internment camp. They began to move onto their farms in 1951. A total of 174 families came to live in the area, almost doubling Kangaroo Island’s population by 1954.
A 70 year reunion was celebrated at the museum on 28 April 2018, attracting original soldier settlers and their descendants from around Australia and saw the official opening of the Ken McWhinnie Dozer Shed, featuring Ken McWhinnie’s old Caterpillar D7 bulldozer that first came to Kangaroo Island in 1951, and typical of the many D7 dozers used by the settlers for making roads, dams and clearing scrub.