Located in the picturesque Adelaide Hills village of Prospect Hill, 7 km south west of Meadows, the museum consists of a complex of historic buildings along the main street, depicting the life of early pioneers. It is managed by the Prospect Hill Community Association.
Visitors first enter the museum via the original general store and post office that was built in 1872 by George Thomas Griggs, Prospect Hill’s first postmaster, who was later succeeded by his son and grandson. Although the area had been surveyed in 1840 and churches had been built soon after, the building of the store signalled the beginnings of the town. The name Prospect Hill did not come into use till 1873. This store building, known as the Ann Russell home, is laid out as room settings depicting early pioneer life, with a parlour, kitchen, two bedrooms and a room displaying old photographs.
There is a permanent exhibition telling the story of the devastating Ash Wednesday bushfires of 1983, opened on 16 February 2008 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the disaster and funded by History SA. Many historic buildings of Prospect Hill were lost during the fires including the original stone building that houses this exhibition. Erected in 1872 by George Griggs, it was rebuilt following the fires, and officially opened by Griggs’ grandson Keith in 1992. Upstairs there is a display about the local scout group, the RSL and the CWA. It is the site where scouting first commenced in Prospect Hill in 1944 by Keith Griggs.
Other buildings in the vicinity of the store are the cellar (also burnt out in the bushfires but restored in 1988), the blacksmith’s shop, and an old weatherboard school room dating from 1893, and moved from Meadows to the museum as the original school was burnt down in the 1983 bushfires. Nearby there are the burnt out shells of three vehicles, a fire truck, a Model T Ford used at the post office and an old Chevrolet. Behind the museum buildings there is an unusual portable shepherd’s hut dating from the 1850s and once pulled by horses.
A little further up the hill, a Dairy Museum is housed in an old 1940s dairy telling the story of the dairy industry from hand milking through to modern computerised dairies. The exhibition was funded by History SA and opened in 2004.
Down the hill on the other side of the post office is the Flag Tree Shed which displays horse drawn buggies, stationary engines and early farm equipment. It is near what was known as the Flag Tree (a flag pole atop a tree) and now marked by a cairn and plaque. It was one of several ‘flag trees’ across the countryside used to signal the sighting of ships coming into port with immigrants, mail and goods.
More photos of the museum can be seen here