Shire of Augusta-Margaret River

Place Number



Lot 303 Ellen Brook Rd Gracetown

Location Details

7km NW of Margaret River on an unnamed road, off Caves Rd. On the right bank of Ellen Brook, near its mouth.

Other Name(s)

Ellensbrook Farm Home for Aboriginal Children
Ellensbrook Farmhouse, Dam & Waterfall

Local Government

Augusta/Margaret River


South West

Construction Date

Constructed from 1855

Demolition Year


Statutory Heritage Listings

Type Status Date Documents
Heritage List Adopted 08 Aug 2012
State Register Registered 17 Aug 2012 HCWebsite.Listing+ListingDocument, HCWebsite.Listing+ListingDocument

Heritage Council Decisions and Deliberations

Type Status Date Documents
(no listings)

Other Heritage Listings and Surveys

Type Status Date Grading/Management
Municipal Inventory Adopted 17 Jun 1996 Criterion 1
Municipal Inventory Completed\Draft 01 Jul 2012 Exceptional Significance
Classified by the National Trust Classified {Lscpe}
Aboriginal Heritage Sites Register Permanent
Classified by the National Trust Classified 01 May 1978
Register of the National Estate Permanent 21 Oct 1980
Aboriginal Heritage Sites Register Interim

Statement of Significance

The 2002 Conservation Plan for Ellensbrook found that it is of exceptional significance because: • The place is an excellent and rare representative example of original settlement in the Margaret River district and with the pioneering development of dairy farming and sheep and cattle grazing in the Augusta-Margaret River area in the colonial period; • The place has association with the Bussell family, and other pioneer settlers at Augusta and Busselton; • The place reflects pioneer building techniques and the use of local materials; • The place has association with the pioneering development of tourism in the Augusta-Yallingup area; • The place demonstrates changing land-uses from pre-settlement to the present time as well as the application of changing government policy and land regulations in the 19th and 20th centuries; • The place demonstrates the functions and processes of natural physical systems and for specific features which include: the coastal dunes; caves and waterfall; geologic formations of the Leeuwin-Naturaliste Ridge; Ellen Brook indigenous flora and fauna; • The place is significant as a cultural landscape which demonstrates the successive impacts of Aboriginal and white settlement on the natural environment; • The place has Aboriginal associations which include the archaeological site; Meekadarribee legend; waterfall and cave; Aboriginal people linked with building and working on Ellensbrook and Ellensbrook Farm Home for Aboriginal children.

Physical Description

The following description is an extract from the Heritage Council’s assessment documentation for the place: Comprises: a single storey vernacular style homestead constructed of local materials including field granite, locally quarried limestone, paperbark, hand-split timber slabs, driftwood and a timber roof beam from the rig of a small ship, located in a grassed clearing alongside Ellen Brook in a natural bush setting behind the coastal dune system, and including a family grave site (1850s-1860s), stone dam wall, flume and waterwheel (1950s), remnant Tea Tree hedge (Leptospermum laevigatum) (date unknown) [destroyed by bushfire in November 2011], Mulberry tree (Morus sp.) (date unknown) and 1950s plantings of Moreton Bay Fig (Ficus macrophylla), Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria excelsa), Flame Tree (Erythrina sp), Pepper Tree (Schinus terebinthifolia) and Hydrangeas (Hydrangea sp.) At the time of inspection (February 2012) the immediate bush setting was in the very early stages of recovery from a major bushfire.


Ellensbrook is a small cluster of wattle and daub buildings built for Alfred and Ellen Bussell. Construction began in 1855 when the Bussells had left their home in the Vasse to settle near the Margaret River on a 10 acre land grant given to Alfred. They chose a site, close to the sea, which had a brook (Ellen Brook) running through the property. This is where the new house was located. Driftwood was used as a ridge beam and rough bush poles and 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.Ellen established a dairy and a garden at their home, and there were also crops of potatoes and other vegetables, oats, barley and wheat. As the years passed, Ellensbrook grew as the family grew. The additions to the house took on an L-shape, following the contours of the land.In the early years at Ellensbrook, until they were able to grow their own crops successfully, life was not easy for the Bussells. They were isolated and supplies were short and expensive. Ellen was often left alone with the children, especially as Alfred kept adding to his property and had to erect many miles of post and rail fence, as well as bridges. By 1858, the Bussells had outgrown Ellensbrook and had to look for other land upon which to build a new home. This new home was known as Wallcliffe (Pace # PR-02).In addition to the house, the Ellensbrook property also holds a gravesite in Ellen’s peppermint grove where three of the Bussell’s sons were buried – Jasper, Christopher and Hugh. William Cheesewell, who was a servant of the Bussells is also buried there. There are remains of a post and rail fence which was part of the Ellensbrook original fencing south of the Cowaramup Bay turnoff. The Noongar know the place as Mokidup, a place which had been a traditional summer camping spot for thousands of years. Just 500 metres away from the homestead is the Mika Darabi (Meekadarribee) which means ‘place where the moon rests.’ The Dreaming story goes that ‘the waterfall flowed down the hillside, past the cave, where the moon came ‘when she vanished from the sky to bathe and recover her gleaming silver in the hidden store within the cavern.’ The cave is home to Aboriginal spirits of Mitanne and Nobel, lovers who are reunited and the waterfall ‘echoes their laughter.’ After Alfred and his family moved from Ellensbrook to Wallcliffe the property was taken over by his sisters Fanny and Edith. In 1898 Edith established an Aboriginal Mission on the property, the ‘Ellensbrook Farm Home for Aboriginal Children.’’ Noongar people were allowed to stay and work on the property in return for food and shelter. The mission operated until 1917. To the Noongar Ellensbrook stands as a ghost house, representing the pain suffered by their people.Ellensbrook continued to be owned and mostly occupied by direct descendents of the Bussell family until 1956, including Frances (Fanny) Brockman, Edith Bussell, and Lennox and Frances Terry.In 1979 the homestead was donated to the National Trust and since then major restoration works have taken place. In 1992 Ellensbrook Farmhouse, Dam and Waterfall (0115) were added onto the Heritage Council of Western Australia’s Register of Heritage Place (Interim Status). As at 2012 the place is a National Trust managed property, open to the public.


Medium: The use has been altered, but the original use is still clearly evident through interpretation of the fabric. High: The original/significant fabric is largely intact.


Good *Assessed from streetscape survey only


Ref ID No Ref Name Ref Source Ref Date
Cresswell, Gail J,The Light of Leeuwin:the Augusta/Margaret River Shire History Augusta/Margaret River Shire History Group 1989
Frances Terry, They came to the Margaret Bunbury 1978
Emails correspondence National Trust of Australia (WA) tothe Shire of Augusta-Margaret River 18/6/2012
Department of Education website http://www.det.wa.edu.au/aboriginaleducation
Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies http://www.aiatsis.gov.au/
Ellensbrook Conservation Plan, 2002
Collard, Len, A Nyungar Interpretation of Ellensbrook & Wonnerup Homesteads, National Trust of Australia (WA) 1994

Other Reference Numbers

Ref Number Description
GR-01 MI Place No.
A4420 LGA Site No.

State Heritage Office library entries

Library Id Title Medium Year Of Publication
4636 A Nyungar interpretation of Ellensbrook and Wonnerup homesteads. Heritage Study {Other} 1994
471 Ellensbrook Heritage Study {Other} 198
541 Preliminary reort on the proposed restoration of Ellensbrook. Heritage Study {Other} 1989
7040 Ellensbrook : conservation plan. Heritage Study {Cons'n Plan} 2004
2012 Conservation study Ellensbrook Margaret River Western Australia. Heritage Study {Other} 1992
482 Historical sites in the Margaret River Augusta region : a photographic survey of documented and undocumented historical sites in the region carried out by students of the University of Western Australia, Department of Architecture. Heritage Study {Other} 1980

Place Type

Individual Building or Group


Epoch General Specific
Original Use FARMING\PASTORAL Homestead
Present Use FARMING\PASTORAL Homestead

Architectural Styles


Construction Materials

Type General Specific
Roof METAL Corrugated Iron
Wall EARTH Wattle and Daub
Wall PLASTER Lathe and Plaster
Wall TIMBER Weatherboard

Historic Themes

General Specific
DEMOGRAPHIC SETTLEMENT & MOBILITY Land allocation & subdivision
OCCUPATIONS Grazing, pastoralism & dairying
DEMOGRAPHIC SETTLEMENT & MOBILITY Workers {incl. Aboriginal, convict}
OCCUPATIONS Hospitality industry & tourism
OCCUPATIONS Domestic activities
DEMOGRAPHIC SETTLEMENT & MOBILITY Racial contact & interaction
PEOPLE Local heroes & battlers
PEOPLE Early settlers

Creation Date

30 May 1989

Publish place record online (inHerit):


Last Update

01 Apr 2021


This information is provided voluntarily as a public service. The information provided is made available in good faith and is derived from sources believed to be reliable and accurate. However, the information is provided solely on the basis that readers will be responsible for making their own assessment of the matters discussed herein and are advised to verify all relevant representations, statements and information.