The Highercombe Hotel, opened in 1854 in the village of Steventon, is now a prominent landmark in the historic township of Tea Tree Gully. The building has served as a hotel, a community meeting room, a post office, a school room, and postal officer, teacher and private residence.
In the early days the main room was used for dances, council, lodge and public meetings and a polling booth on election day. From 1880 to 1963 the northern half of the building was used as the regional post office, while the remaining section housed the local headmaster, accommodated the overflow from the primary school, then became a family home.
In 1965 the Tea Tree Gully Branch of the National Trust was formed and volunteers continue to manage, maintain and open the Museum - offering visitors the opportunity to envisage life in a by-gone era.
The two storey stone building consists of thirteen rooms displaying the domestic lifestyle of yesteryear. The post office interpretation, lodge dispensation dated 1856, our early pioneer portraits and unique local photographs are located downstairs. While upstairs the balcony gives a view of the coastline at Port Adelaide. Sight the hand worked map of England & Wales c 1800 and the map of Australia dated 1855 to read the extraordinary notes written by our intrepid explorers.
The outdoor sheds display hand tools, horse drawn farming implements and transport. A new exhibit, opened in May 2012 in Clarrie’s Shed, features a sequence of displays along the theme ‘Slab Hut to Food Bowl – Life in Early Steventon’.
Set amongst beautifully kept gardens, a visit is well worthwhile. Guidelines have been implemented to offer educational, enjoyable and hands-on experiences for school groups. Bus tours and seniors groups enjoy their visit reminiscing and chatting over morning tea. Volunteers hold display launches, special exhibitions and unique events – Murder Mysteries, A Touch of Christmas Past, Breakfast with the Birds, Teddy Bear Fair, etc.