ArtGeo Cultural Complex
4 - 7 Queen Street, Busselton
ArtGeo Gallery: 08 9751 4651
Courthouse: 08 9751 4217
where art and heritage meet
The complex of buildings now known as ArtGeo once played a vital role in Busselton’s history and growth as a port. Today the heritage-listed site is a vibrant creative hub for the visual and performing arts featuring ArtGeo Gallery, the Courthouse and Old Post Office Tea Rooms, Bond Store art shop, Stables Studios, Acting-Up Academy of Performing Arts, Weld Repertory Theatre, Busselton Art Society, Busselton Woodturners and a series of life-size bronze sculptures commemorating the town’s settlement in 1834.
Step back in time
According to the Australian Heritage Commission, the Courthouse has considerable significance for its contribution to the social and economic history of Busselton. With its earliest structures dating from 1860–61, the former judicial site contains some of the oldest buildings in Busselton. For these reasons, the Courthouse was classified by the National Trust in 1972, assessed for the National Estate in 1983 and listed on the State Heritage Register in 1993.
The early limestone buildings include a customs warehouse or bond store, the original courtroom, police station and nine gaol cells where prisoners were detained for misdemeanors like being drunk and disorderly, petty theft or vagrancy. One cell with bars and shackles is a stark reminder of how Aboriginal people were treated in the past.
At one time the Bond Store was linked by tram-line with Busselton Jetty so that imported goods like tobacco, beer, wine, salt, rice and canvas could be dispatched straight from ship to store in horse-drawn wagons. Nowadays, the Bond Store is a retail outlet for South West arts and crafts.
|Ron Nyisztor What have you seen my blue-eyed son? Winner City of Busselton Art Award 2014
In 1897 a new courtroom was constructed next to the Bond Store. The brick and timber building designed by Western Australia’s principle architect George Temple-Poole is a rare surviving example of Federation arts and crafts architecture. The imposing Courtroom retains the original furnishings made from Jarrah felled and milled locally, including the magistrate’s bench, clerk’s desk, witness stand, dock and public gallery.
Where magistrates, police constables and postmasters once presided, today you’ll find artists and performers, but a self-guided walk or tour through the complex with one of ArtGeo’s knowledgeable guides soon brings history back to life.
Expand your mind
Facing the Courthouse, a brick and tile pavilion built in 1931 for the Agricultural Bank has been converted into an elegant art gallery. This fine example of inter-war neo-classical architecture now known as ArtGeo Gallery was listed on the State Heritage Register in 1999 and classified by the National Trust in 2001. ArtGeo Gallery hosts contemporary art exhibitions sourced regionally and Australia-wide. Annual events include the City of Busselton Art Award for contemporary Western Australian art.