Named for a dreamed-of Australia-India trade alliance, Australind was settled in 1841—and abandoned by 1843. It was designed as a community for ordinary people who wanted to escape poverty in England, and about 440 hopeful immigrants came with plans to farm and breed horses. It was also hoped that this western shore would make it possible to trade with India. However, the settlers and their dreams were overwhelmed by a combination of poor, sandy soil and seasonal rains, which meant no water in the summer and torrential downpours in the winter—as the wife of one of the settlers wrote, “rain such as no one can imagine.”
But the first failure made future success possible—forewarned is forearmed, as they say. Others did arrive to see if they could make life in this area work. They added to the buildings left behind by the earlier group, and Australind grew into a small, seaside town. (Though the dreams of trading with India never materialized.)
Among the few buildings that remain from the early days of Australind is St Nicholas Church, which was built in 1848. Originally built as a workman’s cottage, St. Nicolas Church is said to be the smallest church in Australia. Services are still held in this cozy little building.
Nearby is Henton Cottage. Home to the town’s Tourist Information Center, the cottage, built in 1841, is part of a group of buildings that preserve Australind’s early history.