One day while out riding, Adam Lindsay Gordon saw a piece of land beside the beach, and on it, about a mile (1.6 km) from the coast, he found a stone cottage with a shingle roof, set among blackwoods, golden wattles and eucalypts, with pastures for farming or grazing horses.
The 101 acre (40.8 ha) property, just 2 km from Port MacDonnell had been granted to a land agent, Peter Prankherd, on 10 July 1861.
When the property came up for sale, Gordon bought the cottage on 8 March 1864, for 150 pounds. He named the cottage 'Dingley Dell' (after the nostalgic manor farm of Charles Dickens' Pickwick Papers).
The cottage was plainly but comfortably furnished. Bridle paths linked Dingley Dell to the coast through the sand dunes. This was Gordon's only true home and resting place in Australia, where he found peace to write, grass for his horses and an unbroken view over the Southern Ocean.
Dingley Dell was the home of Adam Lindsay Gordon from 1864 to 1867. There is a legend that Gordon won the cottage in a card game from its owner George Randall...
From 1913-14, the property changed ownership a number of times and by 1920, Dingley Dell was described as a haven for snakes, bees and rabbits. The Dingley Dell Restoration Committee, after much public interest, approached the South Australian Government to purchase the cottage for preservation as part of our national heritage. This took place on 17 February 1922, making the cottage the oldest government-owned historical residence in South Australia.
On 24 July 1980, Dingley Dell Cottage and Heritage Museum became the first building to be listed on the South Australia Heritage Register.
In June 1997, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources leased the cottage and residence to Allan and Jenny Childs as on-site caretakers to operate Dingley Dell Cottage as a museum and tourist attraction.
Courtesy of Day, L., "Gordon of Dingley Dell. The Life of Adam
Lindsay Gordon (1833-1870) Poet and Horseman" (2003)