A place where nature and cultures merge.
Ellensbrook at Mokidup is nestled in the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park in the lee of one of most spectacular coastal dunes of the rugged, western-facing coastline of Wadandi Country.
In 1857 Ellen and Alfred Bussell chose it as the location of their new home, naming it Ellensbrook. It has much to teach us today about Western Australia’s colonial heritage and rural development.
Given its natural and cultural heritage values, it is not surprising that Ellensbrook is a registered Aboriginal heritage site under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972, as well as being listed on the Western Australia’s Register of Heritage Places.
Book your ticket to explore the 1857 homestead and learn more about the life of the Bussells and their relationships with the Wadandi people, whose long-standing connection to Mokidup is reflected in the site interpretation.
On Sundays and public holidays you can book a one-hour guided site tour from 10.30 am. Discover how the natural features of the landscape made life possible at this remote homestead. Take a self-guided tour of the house to delve deeper into the stories throughout the award-winning interpretation. Tours are very personal and can often be tailored to the interests of the group.
After your tour you may extend on your stay, bring a picnic and enjoy the property or take a short 30 min return walk to Meekadarabee Falls along the Cape to Cape Track.
There are five registered Aboriginal heritage sites at this location, which is situated in within the Leeuwin-Naturalist National Park, an A Class reserve managed by the Department of Parks and Wildlife.
There is so much to do here, given that this place sits in the heart of the internally renowned Margaret River Tourism Region.
Mokidup is culturally important to the Wadandi people and has been a summer camping spot for tens of thousands of years.
Traditionally, the high sand dunes served as an important vantage point for communication, as a lookout for schooling fish and later to scan the ocean for djanga (white spirits) sailing past on their ships.
The homestead at Ellensbrook was built over several decades with the help of Wadandi people, ticket of leave convicts and deserting sailors.
With ready access to fresh water and surrounded by fertile soils it was an ideal place for farming beef and dairy cattle. Ellen described it as
“pretty hilly country by the sea where there is health in the breeze.”
There was certainly a shared appreciation and love for this cultural landscape between the Wadandi and the Bussell family and today the shared stories of this place are told in collaboration with Wadandi Traditional Custodians.
There was also a shared connection and value among women of both cultures, with women playing a major role in shaping the stories of this place. The waterfall and cave above the property is called Meekadariby and is very significant, particularly to Wadandi women.
Ellen’s daughters Fanny and Edith both lived here and managed the farm. From 1898 to 1917 Edith also ran the ‘Ellensbrook Farm Home’ for Aboriginal children. And today, Wadandi artist Sandra Hill’s beautiful and moving artworks greet visitors to the site.
A major two-year project funded by Lotterywest and the National Trust was completed in 2019 to conserve and re-interpret this significant heritage place for the benefit of the community. The project took an integrated approach to interpretation, conservation, education and public engagement to deliver a new visitor experience.
Ellensbrook at Mokidup is a place where both the stories of those connected to Ellensbrook and Mokidup are told, in the process redressing an imbalance in the previously accepted understanding of the history of the place. Ellensbrook at Mokidup now reflects the interwoven nature of colonial and Wadandi connections.
Ellensbrook at Mokidup was named as a finalist in the 2020 WA Heritage Awards in the categories of ‘Conservation or Adaptive Reuse of a State Registered Place’ and ‘Interpretation Project’.
Drive your story
The National Trust is excited to be a part of a new initiative from the Margaret River and Busselton Tourism Association. Five new self-guided drive trails will help you see more of what matters – in your own time.
Plan ahead, then feel free to get a little sidetracked while finding new favourites, slowing down with a swim, or stopping into a hidden gem. Linger a little longer to bask in the glow of sunset then bring home a story that’s all your own.
Ellensbrook at Mokidup is part of the Margaret River Surf and Source Trail.
Feel the current of the Margaret River – the land’s life source.
Like the beginning and end of something much greater, the fresh waters of the Margaret River flow through land, forest and out to sea, sharing life and vitality to all who encounter it.
It is a magic felt in the earth and the people. The experiences are as varied and unique as the inhabitants. But that’s the common thread in Margaret River: a connection to place and a contribution to the culture, no matter your background. It’s an area of character and characters.
Here, legacy wine producers rub shoulders with old salty surfers, tree changers, nature-lovers, enterprising families and artists.
Visitors come to grasp a slice of this life, but many stay to add their own thread to the intricate tapestry.