The Salisbury Waterwheel Museum is a historic waterwheel restored and re-established in a new brick building in Pioneer Park. The museum was officially opened on 21 December 1986 by Sir Mark Oliphant, renowned nuclear scientist and former Governor of South Australia. More than 300 people gathered on the lawn outside the museum for the opening ceremony. The museum was opened with Sir Mark Oliphant turning the switch to send 10 tons of water surging through the wheel.
The Rotary Club of Salisbury restored the wheel and with the help of the City of Salisbury, Salisbury & District Historical Society, local businesses and donations from local community families the museum was established. The museum is a reminder of early times in Salisbury and how hard it was to generate power.
The water wheel was commissioned in 1899 by Frederick Heinrich Kuhlmann owner of the Old Spot Inn. He contracted a local blacksmith, Mr Lee to build the water wheel which was for pumping water from the Little Para River to Kuhlman’s private dam in order to irrigate his 30 acre orange grove and market garden nearby. The wheel had buckets that collected the water as it spun around. The wheel stopped being used in the 1940s.
Inside the museum the wheel has been placed in a stone surrounding and when the operator turns it on you can see the water spinning around. There are historic photographs and information boards on the walls telling the history of the orange industry in Salisbury. Visitors can also see photos of how the wheel looked when it was rescued from the banks of the river in a dilapidated state many years ago.
The wheel can be viewed from the window on the outside but for a better experience visit on one of the open days.