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Dunolly, VIC

Historic gold mining town and part of the area known as the Golden Triangle

Dunolly is an historic gold mining town which, at its height in the 1860s, had a population possibly as high as 35,000. Today it has less than 1,000. Its kurrajong-lined main street retains some attractive old buildings from its boom days. The area is now given over principally to farming though goldmining still occurs in the area. Today it is a quiet, attractive and historic service centre with a large number of historic buildings to remind visitors of its past glory days.


Dunolly is located 182 km north-west of Melbourne via Kyneton and 24 km north of Maryborough. 


Origin of Name

The Dunolly pastoral run was established by Archibald McDougall in 1845 and named after the seat of the MacDougall clan - Dunollie Castle in Oban, Scotland. The local Aborigines, the Dja Dja Wurrung called it Lia Kurri Barr meaning 'the creek where hte eastern grey kangaroo eats'.


Things to See and Do

Dunolly History Walk
This is an easy 1.8 km walk which takes around 30 minutes and visits a total of 17 places of historic interest all with four blocks of Broadway, the town's main street. A map and information about the buildings can be downloaded at https://walkingmaps.com.au/walk/3205.

1. Dunolly Town Hall
Located at 83 Broadway, the Town Hall was built as a court house in 1884 but the judge complained of the acoustics and a swap was made with the law courts moving into the old town hall in Bull Street and the council moving into this building in 1890. The Heritage Council of Victoria records the significance of the building as: "The original courthouse was designed by John R Brown of the Public Works Department and is constructed of di-chrome brick in a pavilion form with the elevated central section having a bracketed hip slate roof and a projecting arcaded porch at the front. The detailing of the exterior is exotic in its use of contrasting brickwork and rendered dressings and in using a variety of pointed and segmental arches. In form and decoration it is similar to the courthouses at Camperdown (1886) and Warragul (1886). Internally the central hall has its ceiling divided into three sections by spanning beams. Three of the flanking rooms have surprisingly retained their original decoration including a stone wallpaper which is relatively late in its use. The hall added to the rear is at a lower level and has a coved boarded ceiling and a balcony at the rear with a cast-iron balustrade and a stage to the front with a simple proscenium arch." Check http://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/345 for more details.

2. Dunolly Museum
Located at 75 Broadway, the Dunolly Museum has displays which include a replica of the 69 kg 'Welcome Stranger' gold nugget found 14 km north at Moliagul in 1869, the Welcome Stranger Anvil Monument upon which the nugget was cut, over 20 gold nugget replicas, 70 historic guns as well as a 4-million-year-old fossilised wombat jaw and relics of early European settlement. It is open 1.30 pm - 4.30 pm on Saturday and Sunday and 10.00 am - 3.00 pm on Tuesday and Wednesday, other times by appointment, tel: (03) 5469 1262 or check http://www.visitmaryborough.com.au/arts-culture-heritage/goldfields-history-arts-society-inc.

4. Post Office
Located at 102 Broadway, the post office was built by John Tully in 1891 with the clock tower being added in 1949 as a memorial to those soldiers who fought in World War II. 

5. London Chartered Bank of Australasia
Located at 72 Broadway, the old London Chartered Bank is a two-storey Classical Revival building with Roman arches along the ground floor which was designed by architect, Leonard Terry, and built in 1867. The Heritage Database notes:  "The structure has face brickwork with stuccoed details. Roundheaded window and door openings are recessed, resting on a stone plinth, whilst the first floor has window hoods rising from the string course, with a cornice on dentils above. There are twin entrances and iron balustrades to the windows." It was here that the 69 kg 'Welcome Stranger Nugget', which had been found at Moliagul, was weighed and sold in 1869. It is now a private residence. 

6. McBrides Ironmonger (1863)
Located on Broadway, Peter McBride’s Ironmongers was built in 1862 as a shop and dwelling. Peter and Catherine McBride arrived in the town from Scotland  in 1857. The building was constructed by Thomas Tyrer, an architect and builder, who also designing Bellville. 

7. Footers Mansion (1865)
Located at 188 Broadway, Footers Mansion is a handsomehome which was built by William Footer in 1865. In recent times, when it was operating as a B&B, it was restored and the gardens were maintained impressively. It is a 5 bedroom home with a formal dining room, sitting room and a wine cellar. It is now a private home.

8 & 9. Dunolly Uniting Church (formerly the Methodist Church)
Located on Tweeddale Street is the Methodist (now Uniting) Church which were built in 1863 and the Wesleyan Jubilee Sabbath School (1886). The school building is an attractive red brick with cream brick quoining interspersed with cement dressings. It is classified on the Victorian Heritage Database.

10. Belleville or Bell's Mansion
Located on the corner of Bull and Market Street, Belleville is a handsome two storey mansion built in 1869 for local grocer, James Bell. Bell was a Scot who emigrated to Victoria in 1857. He started a grocery business in Dunolly in that year. He went on to become the Mayor of Dunolly from 1862 to 1865. He later became a bank director and businessman in Melbourne. He entered the Victorian Legislative Council in 1880 and was the Minister for Mines. The mansion was designed by Thomas Tyrer, the local tobacconist.

11. Original Dunolly Town Hall and Court House (1862)
Located at 44 Market Street is the impressive Classical court house consisting of a large central section with symmetrical side-wings. It was built as the town hall in 1862 but changed its function in 1887 and became the local court house. It was deemed too small and subsequently moved to the new court house building constructed in Broadway in 1884. The Municipal Chambers were then converted to a court house by the Public Works Department in 1890 and the building continued to be used as a court house until 1981 when it was one of a large number of Victorian court houses which were closed. For detailed information check out Heritage Victoria at http://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/347/download-report.

12. Police Lock Up and Stables
Located next door to the court house, on the police station property, is the town's original brick three cell lock-up and stables (1863). They were used until the Court House was closed in 1981. The buildings were restored in 2014. There are storyboards in the Police Precinct which bring the area alive. There is more information at http://dunollyhistoricprecinct.com.au/history.

17. Chauncy Cottage (1859)
Located on Havelock Street, Chauncy Cottage was built as an inn owned by Mrs Eliza St Ledger Dowling. It has been known as Eglantine Villa and View Mont, but Chauncy Cottage, named after Phillip Chauncy a Surveyor, has become the common name.  Chauncy bought the cottage in 1861. In his memoir he recalled: “…while we were getting in the furniture it was jumped by a ‘petty-fogging’ lawyer, who sent up a well known character known as ‘Fighting Jack’ to take possession of it … The fact of my having bought the house gave me no title to the ground on which it stood, and it was quite possible ‘Fighting Jack’ held a Miner’s Right and so had better title to the land than I had. However, I sent for two constables and gave the man in charge [instructions to arrest Jack]. Next morning he was brought before the Police Court, where I adduced proofs that I had bought and paid for the house, but it being a question of title, the court was not competent to deal with the case and dismissed it, which, however, was, in fact, all that I wanted, for I remained in undisturbed possession until I so narrowed the street as to exclude the house, and then purchased the land on which it stood from the Crown.” The result is that Havelock Street is the narrowest street in Dunolly. 

Other Buildings of Interest
Anglican Church of St John
Located at the corner of Thompson Street and Barkly Street is the unusual St John's Anglican Church, a freestone structure erected between 1866 and 1869 and dedicated in 1869 with the pipe organ being installed a decade later in 1879. Further down Barkly Street is St John's Hall, dedicated in 1858, which was later used as the first common school. 

St Mary's
Located on Market Street is St Mary's Catholic Church, a Gothic Revival structure built of granite built between 1869 and 1871.

Masonic Lodge
Located in Bourke Street is the town's first courthouse (1858) which soon became, and remains, a masonic lodge. It was constructed of coursed bluestone in 1858 by James Nichols. The design by architect Samuel Merrett was modelled on the Melbourne Supreme Court. The verandas were added later.


Other Attractions in the Area

Laanecoorie Reservoir
Located 16 km east of Dunolly via the Dunolly-Eddington Road is the Laanecoorie Reservoir (8000 megalitres) which dams the Loddon River. Built in 1889, it was one of Victoria's first reservoirs. Today it is a popular spot for picnicking, swimming, boating, sailing, canoeing, windsurfing, fishing, waterskiing, bushwalking, a playground and camping. There is detailed information and a good map for downloading at https://www.g-mwater.com.au/water-resources/catchments/storages/loddon/laanecooriereservoir.



* The area was occupied by the Wemba Wemba Aborigines prior to European settlement. 

* The Dunolly pastoral run was established by Campbell McDougall in 1845 

* Other settlers began to take up land at the end of the 1840s. 

* When gold was discovered at Moliagul in 1852 a town named Dunolly emerged near the Dunolly home. 

* One of the state's earliest vineyards was established here in 1854. 

* In 1854 Dunolly pastoral run was sold and divided up.

* Gold was discovered in 1854 at Burnt Creek 3 km south-east of the present townsite of Dunolly.

* A major strike occurred downstream in 1856 and a new township emerged, known initially as New Dunolly. At the peak of the rush the population was allegedly 35 000 (including many Chinese) with shops stretching along a 5-km section of road. 

* The new townsite was surveyed in 1857. That year saw Moliagul-Dunolly region produce more gold per capita than any other area in Victoria.

* An Anglican school was opened in 1857.

* A borough council was established in 1858.

* A hospital was built in the town in 1860.

* The local town hall was opened in 1862.

* A hall for the local Shire Council was opened in 1863.

* A new strike in the 1860s.

* In 1867 the London Chartered Bank of Australasia opened on the Broadway.

* In 1869 the famous Welcome Stranger gold nugget weighing 2,280 ounces was found at Moliagul.

* In 1873 a flour mill was built.

* The railway arrived from Maryborough in 1874. It was a rail terminus from 1874-1878.

* By 1875 an estimated 500 Chinese were working on the goldfields.

* In 1884 a Court House was built.

* By 1888 Dunolly was a junction on the Inglewood to St Arnaud line. 

* A large, new flour mill was built in 1893.

* In 1908 a golf course was built where the town horse races had been held.

* In 1941 a huge grain storage shed was built in the town.

* The grain storage she was expanded in 1943 and was reputedly the largest shed in the world.

* A swimming pool was built in 1956.

* In 1966 the Gold Museum was opened.

* The town got its first motel in 1988.

* The last bank in the town closed in 1998.


Visitor Information

Dunolly Visitor Information Centre, 109 Broadway, tel: (03) 5468 1205. 


Useful Websites

There is a useful local website. Check out http://www.dunolly.com.au.

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