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Graham's Castle

Page history last edited by helen.halm@... 10 years, 1 month ago




This once imposing structure was also known as ‘Tuckers Folly’. Abraham Graham called his house ‘Nelcoongal’ but it became more widely known as Graham’s Castle even though he owned it for only a few short years, purchasing the property (then 31 acres) around 1863 and building ‘Nelcoongal’, before moving to ‘Mill Cottage’ where his first wife Agnes McHarg died of comsumption in 1878.


Nelgoongal’ was built on Goolwa Hill of limestone, with walls 2ft thick. A door on the upper level lead to a balcony where Graham could watch the shipping.


I found out that it was called ‘Tuckers Folly’ after Mr Charles Tucker, Mayor of Adelaide who leased it from time to time and gave fine parties, was later gaoled for Customs fraud.


Abraham Graham was born in Walton, Cumberland, England in 1829, arriving in Australia in 1853. He first went to the goldfields in Victoria, then taking up a position with the River Murray Company as manager of their Goolwa branch. He became proprietor from 1858-67 of the Graham’s Patent Slip & Iron Foundry, building many steamers and barges also engines and boilers in his foundry.


Graham had been facing considerable hardship due to his expenditure on ‘Nelcoongal’, and became bankrupt in 1875.

Along with others, he was caught in the downturn of river trade, and was before the court for non-payment of wages.


By 1885 Graham’s Iron Works was forced to close. It seems ironic but this is also the year when Graham built ‘Burrang’ the imposing two storey house on the right-hand side of the Goolwa - Pt Elliot road, just after the township of Goolwa. By this time he had married for the second time to Mary Ewart.


Graham’s Castle for a time was used as the clubhouse for the Goolwa Golf Club, but deteriorated and was damaged by vandals.

In 1959 a further subdivision of the land occurred.


By the time the building was purchased by the WEA (Worker's Education for Adults) in 1962, it was a ruin, and they set about turning it into a residential adult education centre. A Government grant of ₤5000 enabled renovations to be done by local builder Keith Neighbour.


Five years later the refurbished centre was opened by Mr Don Dunstan the then Attorney General.


Some years later, through a grant of $79,000 the National Fitness Council of SA purchased the building, and it was now known as 'Goolwa National Fitness Conference Centre', and with more refurbishment was occupied by many school groups in the 44 bed accommodation.


By 1976 it once again had a name change when the National Fitness Centre was wound up, and “The Castle’ came under the auspices of the Dept of Tourism Recreation & Sport, later to become Dept Community Development then a division of the Dept of Transport.


In later years ‘Graham’s Castle’ went into disrepair, but the land has once again been subdivided, and the building has been renovated and is now in the process of once again gaining a new life, with the surrounding land to be sold as housing allotments.



[History of Graham’s Castle Conference Centre Goolwa by Div Recreation & Sport]

[A Land Abounding by Rob Linn]

WA Pretty Files


Back to Mostly Goolwa




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