McCaffrey Cottage, 21 St James Street, Willunga

McCaffrey Cottage was built as a 4 roomed pug cottage in the late 1850’s by James McCaffrey, an Irish quarryman and builder. In about 1860, slate floors were added. James and his wife made it their home until their deaths in 1901.

The Keane (Kain) family also rented the cottage at some time. Early in the 1900s, John Corbett purchased the cottage. It became the Corbett family home for many years, witnessing the birth of John and Mary’s seven children. John Corbett was the coachman for Dr Frank Counter of Willunga in the 1890s. The slate roof was replaced with galvanised iron and a room added, possibly in the 1920s.

In more recent years, the cottage has been owned by a number of prominent people. Rosemary Wighton, AO, lived in the cottage in the 1960s when, with Max Harris, she established and edited the first Australian Book Review. She later had a distinguished public career in the Arts, Community Welfare and as Adviser to the SA Government on Women’s Affairs (1979-1984), serving under three different Premiers.

The Limington family came from England to live in the cottage in the mid 1970s and ran an antique shop at 17 High Street. Roger Liminton was previously a BBC set designer who is remembered for designing sets for some of the early Dr Who series including The Three Doctors and Carnival of the Masters. He designed the original Steptoe and Son sets and worked on many other BBC productions including The Monty Python Show, Colditz, The Liver Birds, the Goodies and many BBC TV dramas of the sixties and seventies. While in Willunga, he worked on many design projects including the distinctive Wirra Wirra wine label. The couple renovated the cottage and built the multilevel “pavilion” extension which is attached to the original four rooms.

In the early 2000s, the Wilson family lived in the newer addition (now demolished) and used the cottage as a bed and breakfast. Michael Wilson, at that time retired, had been the Minster for Transport in the South Australian Government when Adelaide’s O’Bahn was constructed and random breath testing was introduced.

Through the years, as the cottage has developed, owners have preserved many original features, including its slate floors, timber and door joinery, and the windows in the first 4 roomed section. The new verandah has been constructed to resemble the original and the front has been rendered and painted in the traditional manner.

This building is on the City of Onkaparinga’s local heritage list (SA Heritage Places database #5509)


Willunga National Trust – papers and documents available at the Willunga Courthouse.
R Baxendale and F Lush Willunga Walks Willunga National Trust Willunga 2012 (1989).
C Butler ‘Roger Limington has designs on Willunga’ The Advertiser 14 December 1977 p.28.
Onkaparinga Council Built Heritage Property Details, 1999. Heritage ID No:479.
Rosemary Wighton.


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