The Ellensbrook Homestead was owned and built by the pioneer Alfred Bussell , who first settled at Ellensbrook in 1857 to set up a family beef and dairy farm. He named the area after his wife, Ellen and the stream that ran through the property.
The Wardandi (local Nyungar Aborigines) knew the area as Mokidup. Mokidup was a traditional summer camping area for the Nyungar Aborigines for thousands of years. From the Homestead you can also find a walk trail that leads to a cave at Meekadarbee Falls.
Bathing Place of the Moon
In Aboriginal legend, the cave is where the spirits of Aboriginal lovers, Mitanne & Nobel live. If you listen carefully you can hear their laughter echoing in the waterfall. This sacred place is known by the Aboriginals as the “bathing place of the Moon” and is surrounded by tall peppermint trees which arch over the limestone cave behind the falls.
Ellen Bussell used the cave to store and preserve the butter she churned.
Alfred Bussell arrived in Western Australia on the 12th of March 1830 on the ship “Warrior”. He, like many settlers arrived at the Swan River Colony to take up land, but discovered on arrival that all the fertile land near the colony was already taken up. Lieutenant-Governor James Stirling persuaded the settlers to move south, to an area near Cape Leeuwin. The Bussells tried hard in establishing farming land there but decided it was too harsh.
They eventually moved out of the Augusta area and settled in the Margaret River area. Alfred Bussell built the Ellensbrook Homestead from crushed shells and limestone. A boat mast was used as a ridge beam and rough bush poles & paperbark were used to create a framework for the house which was later sealed with a special type of plaster. With the help of the local Aboriginals they created a plaster by burning limestone from nearby dunes.
The Bussell family lived at Ellensbrook until 1865, but left the homestead following the death of three of their infant children. They moved to Wallcliffe House near the mouth of Margaret River.
Alfred Bussell’s sixteen year old daughter, Grace Bussell became a hero in 1876 when she and an Aboriginal stockman , Sam Isaacs , rescued passengers from the stricken steamship Georgette.
Ellensbrook Farm Home for Aboriginal Children
After Alfred and his family moved from Ellensbrook the property was taken over by his sisters Fanny and Edith. Between 1899-1917, Edith established an Aboriginal Mission on the property, the “Ellensbrook Farm Home for Aboriginal Children”. Nyungar people were able to work on the property in return for food and shelter.
In 1979 the Ellensbrook property was donated to the National Trust.
The waterwheel on the Ellensbrook property was used in the 1950’s and was constructed from Tuart and Jarrah timbers and steel tyres. The salt laden winds have corroded much of the structure but the waterwheel is currently being restored.
General Information About Ellensbrook Homestead
Address : 21 Ellen Brook Road , Margaret River
Opening Times – 10am-4am Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Closed July and Good Friday
Cost to tour homestead: $4.00 Adults, $2 Children
Walking the grounds – Free