River Dolls of Goolwa displays over 2500 dolls, toys, trains, puppets and bears in an air-conditioned building with easy wheelchair access. Although the building is outside the heritage-listed area of Goolwa, it fits in comfortably with the heritage of the region and adds to the village “feel” of Australia’s first Cittaslow (or slow town). The colourful and easy to view display has international dolls, celebrity dolls, boys toys, bride and baby dolls, a huge Barbie collection, fashion dolls plus a range of play dolls from 1890s to the present. A special focus includes dolls made in Australia.
The collection is a privately owned one that has been on display in the historic river port of Goolwa since 1999. The display won a Fleurieu Peninsula Tourism Award for a new operation presented in 2001 and the owner, Lyn Clark received a 2010 Fleurieu Peninsula Tourism Award for Outstanding Tourism Contribution for the Alexandrina Council region.
Complementing the gallery’s theme of “childhood memories”, Dollies Lollies was opened as part of the same building in 2002 with favourite and traditional sweeties like humbugs, acid drops, jelly babies and many more. There’s something for every member of the family including Dad!
A 12 metre long wall mural reflecting the company name displays a colourful array of Goolwa’s icons like the PS Oscar W, SteamRanger, Signal Point, 817 Squadron helicopter, Goolwa’s heritage buildings plus a lot of the activities enjoyed in the region like sailing, cycling, fishing, food and wine, birds and surfing. It was painted by local painter James Stewart whose work can be found in many locations around the town. The Fleurieu Railway Operators' Group (FROG) maintain a railway layout as part of the museum's displays. Coach tours can be arranged and are welcomed at any time of the year.