Welcome to the kitchen of the Customs’ House. Here you will find yourself in the heart of the house. It is incredible to believe that this kitchen has served the residents of the Custom House since 1866. You can just imagine the old wood stove burning away cooking bread or dinner whilst keeping water hot and ready for use in a pot of tea or to wash the dishes. You should take time to try and work out what the array of different utensils and objects were used for in the past as you wander around the room. A pictorial display will show you the size of the cellar that exists below you and the changes in the role of the kitchen over the years.
As you enter this room you can’t help but admire the magnificent sideboard and mirror reflecting the formally set dining table. In this dining room which is Reminiscent of the Guest Houses that were popular in Victor Harbor in the late 1800 to early 1900s, you can imagine yourself being waited on as conversations with fellow holiday makers echo around the table. A century old gramophone plays as you take in the unique collections portraying the popular Guest Houses that numbered in their forties catering for the seasonal holiday makers that frequented Victor Harbor every year.
This is a real step back in time. After a sumptuous evening meal guests would retire to the Parlour. You can imagine guests gathering in here dressed in their best ready to finish their evening with a game of charades or cards or plan their activities for the next day. The collection of furniture and decor give you a real sense of life as it was once, from the crystal lamp to the grand chairs and sofa. Be amused by one of the many anecdotal records displayed especially the one about the organ which was transported to the cemetery by wagon to accompany each funeral service!
Sitting room/Settlers’ room
In this room the residents originally would have their own private space to sit and relax as a family or individually at any time of the day. Notice the French doors that would open onto the verandah providing ventilation in summer and easy access to the station or port for the officers who lived here. Now it has a wealth of information and displays of artefacts about the first settlers and pioneers of Victor Harbor. Discover how our forefathers arrived in the bay and, living alongside the Ramindjeri and the whalers, managed to carve out a life for themselves and in so doing established a self-sufficient and successful settlement that would continue to grow and thrive. You will get an appreciation of how inventive and persevering these pioneers were to overcome any difficulties that confronted them. You will be fascinated by their stories and the treasures that have been uncovered around the bay and especially at the bottom one of the first wells in Yilki.
Our bedroom has an amazing collection of memorabilia and furniture that reflects the times of the first residents in Victor Harbor. From the children’s’ toys and perambulator (pram) to the chamber pot and bed pan. You must wonder from seeing the size of the room and the information displayed just how did the large families who lived here manage. When you leave you will have a better appreciation of today’s modern designs, especially ensuites and electric blankets!
Other Customs' House displays
Long Room/ Meeting room
Originally this was the Custom and Harbor Masters place of business and was fondly referred to as the Long Room. Many meetings and transactions would have taken place in here. Today this room has a collection of displays and information about past Community leaders, decision makers and mayors of Victor Harbor. A highlight of the displays is the one of Captain Richard Crozier, to whom we thank for naming the waters Victor Harbour after his ship the HMS Victor. If you take a seat in the vintage chairs around the table, take note that you can take a seat at the original table from the Encounter Bay Council. You can reimagine the number of discussions that have been held at this table over the years.
First Public Toilet
Built to serve the public in the 1860s and first located near the Causeway this toilet will give you a real appreciation of today’s modern plumbing. Discover how the ablutions of the 1860s in Victor were serviced nightly by the ‘Night Cart’ or ‘Dunnyman’. After visiting here, you will never look at a toilet in the same way again!
Take the time to walk around the Customs’ House gardens and just imagine the hustle and bustle of this area when it was a Railway/ Port. You may even be lucky enough to see the steam engine as it shunts backwards to the turntable. See the original Granite Island chairlift wheel and find out what happened to the Chairlift and why it is there no longer. Or just take a seat on the verandah and enjoy the serenity of the Custom House Garden.