A very early sketch of Willunga has recently been discovered among a collection of documents at Flinders University. The accompanying notes suggest that it originates from the Mitchell Library in New South Wales. Efforts are being made to trace the original document.

The small A4-size sketch is titled ‘Willunga – 28 miles south of… “ [Adelaide, presumably] and it is dated as ‘probably 1840’. Three buildings are identified – the Police Station on the left, Survey Store (centre) and Post Office (right).

The sketch is incomplete, missing a portion of the right margin. Does it come from a larger picture? What is its source? Who was the artist?

A surveyor’s notebook is one possible source of this interesting sketch.
• John McLaren had been sent in 1837 to survey the southern districts.
• In 1839 James Hawker was employed to clear the line of road from Old Noarlunga to the Government Reserve at Willunga.
• The placement of the buildings corresponds exactly with an 1840 map of the Extended Township of Willunga prepared by P L Snell Chauncey, Surveyor.
Did any of these gentlemen, at the time or subsequently, put pen to paper to sketch the new Government Reserve in the foothills at Willunga?

As the new half-way town between Adelaide and Encounter Bay, Willunga was frequently visited by officials and settlers moving south. In 1839 and again in 1840 Governor Gawler visited the survey camp on his way south. On New Year’s Eve in December 1840, Lady Franklin, the wife of the Tasmanian Governor, noted that they stayed the night at Willunga in a government hut.

Who else might have been passing through Willunga around that time and decided to sketch their impressions of the tiny settlement?

Hopefully the puzzle will be solved with assistance from staff from the Mitchell Library. Watch this space!

This intriguing sketch can be seen at Willunga Court House Museum. See http://www.nationaltrust.org.au/sa/willunga-courthouse-museum for opening times.

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