Our picturesque town is about one hour’s drive (45km) south of Adelaide, South Australia. Willunga was established in 1839 when the Government Reserve was a tentage area and depot for surveyors, police and settlers.
The Heritage-listed Courthouse complex (with cells, stable and police residence) was built from 1855 to 1872 and stands in a picturesque setting by a creek.
The Museum is an authentic Courtroom with displays, and family and district records available for research. Groups can enjoy a guided tour and possibly an entertaining courtroom re-enactment (bookings essential) The grounds are a popular venue for outdoor weddings and community events.
The stables behind the courthouse now house the Slate Museum, the only one of its kind in Australia. Opened in 2005 this unique museum tells of the discovery of slate, the subsequent development of the industry and the influence of the Cornish quarrymen and their families on the social and cultural life of the district. There are slate workers tools for splitting, cutting and working the slate on display, as well as items, photos and story boards about the transporting of the slate to Port Willunga jetty for shipping.
A short distance from the museums, in St Lukes Street, stands the quaint one room Bassett Boys’ School in which the National Trust now operate a schools learning program. It was built in 1862 from local stone with the roof and floor using local slate. The interior now displays books and items of early education and is the venue for school visits where pupils sit on benches for their tuition old-style. Adult groups and visitors also enjoy reminiscing about their school days as they browse the items displayed.
Visitors to Willunga often walk around the Heritage Precinct of the town aided by a “Willunga Walks” brochure available at the Courthouse Museum. Many original buildings with slate roofs are still lived in or are used for shops, B&B’s or coffee shops. The three hotels operate in original buildings.
Weekend visitors to Willunga can enjoy other attractions such as the monthly “Willunga Quarry Market”, selling produce, arts and crafts and the “Artisans Market” as well as the “Farmers Market” that is held every Saturday.
The Willunga National Trust also operates a community heritage wiki website. You are welcome to join and share your knowledge, memories and stories of Willunga.h