|The Old Bush
Willunga (including Mount Compass)
Interesting historic township on the edge of
Located 47 km south of Adelaide (Mount Compass
is a further 12 km south), Willunga is an
historic township which was established only
three years after the settlement of South
As far as can be determined the name Willunga
comes from the Aboriginal word 'willangga'
meaning, possibly, 'the locality of green trees'
although some people insist it means 'black
The Hundred of Willunga was surveyed in 1839
and purchased by Edward Moore. The town was
surveyed the following year although it is true
that there was already a police station in the
district. By 1840 the town's first 'Bush Inn'
(the current structure is the third) a slab hut
was built. It was around this time that a slate
quarry was established in the district. This
immediately established the area as the slate
was of such quality it was shipped around
Australia from Port Willunga. After the success
of slate the area became an important wheat
growing district. The early settlers named the
streets in town after saints which gives the
town, which has large numbers of charming old
buildings, a quaint European feel. The slate
declined in the 1890s and part of the town's
charm is that it has largely remained untouched
since its glory days in the 1850s and 1860s.
Today Willunga is a town full of genuinely
interesting old buildings. It is situated on the
edge of the McLaren Valley which lies to the
north. Instead of vineyards or slate, modern
Willunga is known for its almonds. Each July the
town holds its Almond Blossom Festival.
groves near Willunga
Things to see:
Old Courthouse & Police Station Museum
Located in High Street is The Old Police Station
and Court House is now a National Trust Museum.
Inside the Court House Museum the Court has been
accurately recreated and the cells which date
from more recent times have been preserved. It
is open on weekends in the afternoon. On the
side of the building is written 'Court House and
Police Station. It was built in 1855 on the
government reserve using stone from the adjacent
quarries. Major additions were completed in
1864. It was used as a depot to dispense food
and blankets to the Aborigines and was for a
time a female immigrant depot. Its police and
judicial functions continued until 1929 when it
became a private residence. It was leased by the
Willunga District Council to the National Trust
of South Australia, restored and opened as a
Museum in 1970.'
The Old Post and Telegraph Station
Over the road from the Old Police Station and
Court House is the Old Post and Telegraph
Station. The single storey section on the upper
end of the building dates back to 1857. The
other section dates to 1864. The original single
storey building was opened in 1858. It contained
the Post Office Telegraph Station and the
Residential Quarters of the Postmaster. The two
storey was added in 1865. The building ceased
its function as a Post and Telegraph Station in
1916 and was sold by the Government in 1935. It
was restored in 1986.
The Old Bush Inn
The first Old Bush Inn was established in 1839.
It was subsequently rebuilt twice but the modern
Old Bush Inn is still a place of considerable
charm and historic interest.
Mount Magnificent Conservation Park
Located 12 km south east of the town this
attractive Conservation area is part of the
Heysen Trail. It is an ideal place to visit if
you are hoping to see western grey kangaroos in
their native habitat.
Located 14 km south east of Willunga, Mount
Compass is a very small settlement named after
the occasion, in 1840, when Governor Gawler lost
his compass near this site. Maybe it should have
been called Mount Lost Compass. The town serves
an agricultural district typified by dairy farms
and market gardens.