Mill Cottage relates to one of the district’s first settlement families, the Bishops. Captain John Bishop arrived in Port Lincoln in command of the sailing ship the ‘Dorset in 1839 with his first wife Mary and daughter. Following his wife’s death in childbirth, John married Esther Elizabeth Kemp in 1840. John Bishop built a home on Tasman Terrace and named it Overcourt in memory of his wife’s family home in Gloucester in England. This property was demolished in 1940 but the door from the home can be seen in the annex of Mill Cottage. An arm from the figurehead of the ‘Dorset’ is also on display here.
John Bishop had 8 children and Mill Cottage was built for his son, storekeeper Joseph Kemp Bishop. Four rooms were constructed at first by Mr S Shepherd in 1866 at a cost of £65 but two larger rooms were added following Joseph’s marriage and subsequent arrival of a growing family. Joseph married Elizabeth Hammond, the daughter of Rev Octavius Hammond, the Superintendent of the nearby Poonindie Mission in 1868. However nine years later she died leaving Joseph with four small children – Sidney, Ethel, William and Amy. Joseph later married his wife’s sister Ethelah and they had two more children Geoffrey and Myles. The children’s Noah’s arks can be seen on display as well as Myles’ toy monkey “Mr Breeze”.
When Joseph Bishop died in 1937 the cottage and adjacent land passed to his daughter Amy, who lived there until her death in 1963. Miss Bishop never married and was a noted painter in watercolours. She added a lean-to which served as her studio to the North side of the building.
The museum houses many Bishop family artifacts, some of which they brought with them from England. Numerous paintings by artist Amy Bishop are displayed throughout.
After Miss Bishop’s death there was a danger that the cottage would be demolished and the surroundings divided into building blocks. Fortunately this was avoided by the Port Lincoln City Council buying the property for the purpose of establishing a city park now called Flinders Park.
Mill Cottage was originally managed by the Port Lincoln branch of the National Trust but is now looked after by and is the headquarters of the Southern Eyre Peninsula Family & Local History Group.