The Southern Fleurieu Historical Museum is located at the Port Elliot Show Grounds and is a featured attraction.
Mr David Coote (dec.), a resident of the area, had a vision of building a museum for horse drawn equipment in Middleton. On his passing, his wife Sheila wanting to fulfill her husband’s wish and finding that a museum at Middleton was not viable, approached the Southern Agricultural Society Inc. with a view to establishing a museum at the show grounds. The President at the time, Mr Deanne Perry presented the matter to the committee and members and it was agreed to set up a museum in David Coote’s memory at the grounds. The Coote Family kindly donated $5,000 towards the building of the museum hoping that other funds could be found and within a short space of time generous donations of $5,000 each were also received from Ian and Carol Youles and the Victor Harbor Harness Club, thus allowing the building of the museum to proceed.
The late Ken Ekers of Mt Compass was a collector, with a dream of setting up a museum of local machinery which had a known connection to the district. Sometime in the 1990s there was quite a bit of work done towards the establishment of a museum in Mt Compass but unfortunately it did not eventuate. However, Ken’s brother Colin became interested and after much consultation, a group was formed at Mt Compass in 2009 to again look into establishing a museum at Mt Compass, but unfortunately again this did not eventuate and the group began looking elsewhere for a venue to establish the Ekers collection.
With the David Coote display already established at the Port Elliot show grounds, an approach was made to the Southern Agricultural Society Inc. and after much consideration, debate and several meetings, it was agreed to house the collection in the current museum.
A new Museum committee was formed and the museum was set-up. The group now has organised bus tours visiting the museum and visitors are treated to interesting tales behind the historical equipment on display. The sulky which is on display was given to Ken and Colin’s mother as a wedding present and she and her husband drove the sulky from Wool Bay on the Yorke Peninsula to Mt Compass where they settled after purchasing 1,000 acres of land for £1 an acre.
There is now a volunteer group who meet every Thursday at 10:00 am at the Museum to carry on the many tasks of organising, creating and restoring exhibits, and discussing the many challenges that face a fledgling museum. Anyone who feels that they may like to be involved please come along any Thursday, you will be made most welcome.