Wellington was the first site for a river crossing given its geographical location; in 1838 the first crossing was completed. This very historical site was believed to have been settled back in 1841 with the first Police station, then in 1946, the Police station and courthouse ceased as a public establishment. It was still utilized as accommodation for the Ferrymen for many years.
In the case of the Wellington Courthouse there is the chance to interpret the polarizing figure known as Alexander Tolmer. Born in 1815, Tolmer was a central figure of the police force within South Australia. Upon his arrival in South Australia in 1840 he quickly rose through the ranks and was appointed police commissioner in 1852. During his early years, Tolmer led many expeditions to prevent trouble between settlers and Aboriginals, and he spent much time in the bush pursuing cattle thieves, murderers, smugglers and seeking illicit stills (Mayo 2006). Tolmer’s interaction with Indigenous communities at the time was questionable, culminating in the execution of two Indigenous people who had allegedly killed survivors of the Maria shipwreck .
Tolmer’s interaction with the Wellington Courthouse arose in 1852 with the passing of the Bullion Act. It was Tolmer’s suggestion for an overland escort service from Victoria to South Australia to reverse the drain of currency from the colony during the gold rush. As it has been outlined, Wellington was prominent at this time because it served as a connection between South Australia and the Victorian Gold Fields. The service was cut in 1853 when Tolmer was dismissed as commission as his police force fell into disarray due to absences on escort duty. In approximately the 1850’s, gold shipments were transported from Mt Alexandra through to Adelaide via our river crossing at Wellington. There were 18 shipments of gold to Adelaide that ran via the Courthouse that was seen as a connection point between the Victorian and South Australia Gold fields. An upgrade of services for Wellington was ordered and the new Police station, Courthouse, stables, store and accommodation were planned. Commencing construction in about 1859 and completion in about 1861, this building was considered the most complex use of a building of its kind in South Australia.
In 1975 a local band of residents, headed up by a gentlemen by the name of Mr Bob Turner who had a vision of this grand old girl being returned to its former glory. The Old Courthouse and Police Station provide wonderful examples of early living and local history, artefacts, such as a telephone exchange system, kitchen and cooking utensils, and pictorial examples of the building and area back in the 1800’s. The building was then purchased in 2012 from the National Trust and extensive restorations and renovations were done to bring new life into this Historical beauty and retain the Museum capacity of the venue.
A very accommodating courtyard and extensive grounds provide for any level of entertainment and comfort you might wish for during your time with us. The renovations and upgrades have allowed to us to provide our clientele with a unique Luxury Boutique accommodation onsite – for your well-deserved rest following your winery tour or day on the river or leading up to your onward journey. We also wanted to provide a unique Functions opportunity and have the licensing capacity and facilities available to suit small to medium groups – providing unique private spaces for Private function rooms, Conference rooms, Onsite Catering, Whole venue hire, Presentations……
As Proud South Australians we we are very grateful that this piece of history didn’t go under the bulldozers blades. We would like to hear from anyone who would like to add a story to this page. Any ancestors with information, which could assist in building an account of the years between 1860 and 1950