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Custom's House

Page history last edited by Dawn Juers 9 years, 11 months ago





(now -  Alexandrina Centre for Positive Ageing)



It appears that a cottage for the Harbormaster was completed in July 1852 but whether that was actually in Goolwa or nearer to the mouth is not explained.


In 1853 the year Goolwa was surveyed, it was the only ‘port’ where customs was able to be paid. Boat captains from Mannum had to negotiate Lake Alexandrina to come to Goolwa, pay the customs, then return up-river with their cargo.


In 1858 the SA Government announced a new Customs House would be built. Plans were drawn up by the Government, in the November of that year showing the new Customs house on the north side of Cutting Road, instead of the south side, where it was actually built. In a letter (25/11/1858) to Mr T. Jones “re tracing of government reserve, Goolwa, Mr Hamilton observes that you have shown the Office of the Custom House on the contrary side of the building to that shown on contract drawing”.


 The stone house was contracted to be built the following year by William Ray of Goolwa, for a cost of  £449.10.6 which by  1859 had blown out to £500.

The house was occupied by the Customs Officer between the years 1859-90. It was extended between 1864 and 1869 with the addition of a verandah, stone wall and paling fence. (The fence was to keep back the sand).


By 1874 the volume of trade at the wharf had increased and the government appointed Thomas Taylor as Sub-Collector of Customs & Harbormaster for a salary of $250 p.a.

That year a new wharf was also built, later to be followed by a wharf shed.


By 1980 the government put the house on the market when it became surplus to it’s requirements. Some members of the District Council Port Elliot & Goolwa believed it was worth saving so it was purchased from the State Transport Authority for $33,000. It was around this time that all sectors of government were confronted with the population increase and the fact that people were living longer.


The homestead was to be completely remodelled and with a boost of  State & Federal funding of $92,000 it opened in January 1984 as the Goolwa Heritage Club, an innovative Day Centre for the frail housebound. It became a pilot scheme for health care for the aged. It’s charter to co-ordinate necessary services and programs to enable the elderly to remain in their homes as long as possible. The Club was to be financed by funds from the Commonwealth and State governments; Local Council & SA Health Commission and administered by a full-time Co-ordinator and volunteer staff.

In 1986 the Lions Club raised enough money for the purchase of their first bus. 


In 2002 the name was changed to Alexandrina Centre for Positive Ageing.

The Centre has gone from strength to strength and has a variety of interests for their members – Craft; Men’s Crib Group; Walking & Marching groups; Men – in the Shed; Men’s cooking class.


Some of the families who lived in the house when it was the Harbormaster’s House are-

Dowd ; Peake ; and Dunbar family - to 1969.( Maureen Dugmore nee Dunbar can recall living in the house when her father, Mick, was the Station Master –Railway).

(updated – October 2010)



‘A Dent in the Ol’ Bucket’

A People’s Place- the First Twenty Years 1984-2004

A Land Abounding’ by Rob Linn

Discovering the Fleurieu Peninsula with the National Trust

South Coast Story – JC Tolley

WA Pretty Collection

A People’s Place, the First 20yrs 1984-04


Dawn Juers, Volunteer, Alexandrina Local & Family History Room 



Back to Mostly Goolwa

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