This page is about the Town Halls, Police Residences, Courts, Survey Office, Gold Office, Mining Warden and Post Offices. It is not meant to be a detailed history.

Dunolly, the current site, which is the fifth, began in 1856. The following pictures and information are part of the legacy of a very progressive and active population in gaining services. Interestingly, in modern times the town’s people are still very active in defending services.

This first picture sets a scene as it was in 1866 and it will be referred to a few times further down as we look at the various buildings. The view is approximately east looking across the intersection of Market Street and Bull Street. The buildings are aligned along Market Street.

Dunolly Town Hall, Police Residence, Police Court, and at the far end the Surveyors Office, all in Market St. Not visible is the Post and Telegraph office. out of frame at right. 1866 Aime Marchand photo.

A closer view below of what was the Town Hall.

Dunolly Town Hall in 1866. Aime Marchand photo. This is an extract of the full image. Note the unnatural stride as people kept still for the required camera exposure time. The side entrance leads into an area used as a library.

How it looked in 2015.

Court House, restored 2012, picture 2015. Originally the Town Hall.

This is the Dunolly Court House. The wing along Bull Street was a library in the Town Hall period. Dunolly never had a mechanics institute. Built as the Borough of Dunolly Town Hall in 1862, it was later swapped in 1890 with the present day Town Hall in the main street; this building becoming the Court House and operated as such until 1981. The Court House has displays and is periodically open to the public. Inside it has all the typical features of a court and related features including a holding cell. If opportunity permits, do not pass the chance to explore these buildings. This building was restored in 1990 and again in 2012. This area and the Town Hall in the main street can be further “explored” via this link.

Court House interior scene.
Court House interior scene.

The second building to the right showing in the top most picture is the Police Residence, the same as shown below.

Dunolly Police Station Brick Residence 1956

Below is the Police Station in 1959 and at the left of the picture is the corner of the residence in the above picture. It now gets a bit complicated. The residence shown above was demolished, the 1959 building moved a bit to the left and new police residence built on the right hand side of the station when the power station was demolished, the latter can be seen at far right in the picture below.

Dunolly PS 1959, note older buildings left & right
Dunolly Police Station 1959, note original residence in part at left and the building at right that was at various times a court, shire hall and power station.
The Precinct in December 2015. The Town Hall that became a Court House, the 1950s police station which used to be further to the right. Behind the station is the lock up and stables. The original police residence was between the Court House and Police Station. In front of the lockup was the 2nd police residence which was demolished when the current (3rd) police residence was built behind the stables but facing Alice street.
Unrestored lockup and police stables from rear 2007 (Alice Street). Since then a new police residence was built in the foreground area blocking this view.


Below. The the police stables date from 1863, restored 2014.

Restored police stables.

Below. Police lockup built 1861-1862, restored 2014.

Restored Gaol
Gaol cell door. There are three cells.


We now move to the 3rd building to the right in the picture at the very top, which was originally the Police Court (Petty Sessions). It was on corner of Burke Street and Market Street where there are now several housing units. It was built in 1860 as part of the camp reserve. The pictures below show it in use as a court then as the Bet Bet Shire Hall. So we have the Borough of Dunolly on the far left corner, which became a Court House, and Bet Bet Shire Hall at the far right end, which started as a Court House. The Borough Council dealt with the town and the Bet Bet Shire dealt with the Shire surrounding the town until 1921 when they were merged as the Bet Bet Shire Council and everybody living near the boundaries breathed a sigh of relief.

Police Court 1861
Bet Bet Shire Hall built 1860. The re-use of buildings makes things complicated. This was originally a courthouse, then Bet Bet Shire Hall, then held the electricity generating plant. These days there are housing units on the site. Note the lockup at far left.

The building was the Dunolly Power House 1929–1938, until the town was connected to the State electricity grid. One of the poles erected for the 1938 switch to SEC (State Electricity Commission) is still existence in Broadway.


Referring again to the very top picture the Survey Office is at the very far right.

Extract showing the Survey Office, Market Street, 1866, Amie Marchand photo.

The building is on the other corner of Market and Burke Street and was the Lands and Survey Office built in 1861, below is a more recent picture. This office was kept very busy as the district grew. It then became the Forest Officer’s home. Burke Street changed name from Court Street commemorating the ill-fated expedition of Burke and Wills.

Survey Office 2015, a private residence.


The building in Burke Street next to the Survey Office was the Gold Office and dates from 1861. The picture below shows the office in 1861. This replaced the first gold office that was out of town, located at the government camp adjacent the fourth site of Dunolly. Both gold offices were on the route of a gold escort and while the escort operated from November 1856 to January 1867, 758,112 ounces (23,580 kilograms) of gold were collected from Dunolly. This does not include what the diggers carried away themselves!

Gold Office 1861 George Jenkinson photo.

Below: How it looked in 1961

New Gold Office,Built 1860 Photo 5th Jan 1961
Gold Office 5th Jan 1961


The present building is still recognisable and is shown below as it was in 2007 after a lot of work. It is now immersed in a magnificent garden, so a current picture is not suitable.

Gold Office In Burke Street, 2007


At the very top end of Burke street is the building shown below. This is Lodge No 18 St George of the Freemasons with their own extensive local history. Via James Bell, the Freemasons purchased the building in 1886. (The Bell link only gives a brief starting point) This was the first purpose-built courthouse in Dunolly. It was built in 1858 as the County Court, but used for all sessions. The appearance has changed substantially.

Dunolly’s first Court House, now Freemasons Lodge, top end of Burke Street

Below, as it looked in 1861

County Court Dunolly 1861
County Court Dunolly 1861. George Jenkinson photo

And again as it appeared in 1866. The rotund gent is believed to be Judge Macoboy. He would soon be caught up hearing numerous and long running aspects of the infamous Goldsborough Jumping Case when a very dodgy and ruthlessly immoral local solicitor tried to “jump” the rich Goldsborough mine.

In the background at left is Chauncy Cottage, more on that elsewhere.

County Court 1866 Aime Marchand photo.

To the right of the Court House but forward in Alice Street is the Gold Wardens Residence. The Warden system commenced in mid 1855 along with the Miner’s Right, which replaced the hated gold license and the commissioners. (Pre Miners Right, many of the commissioners were respected for their efforts on behalf of diggers.) The miners elected the Wardens and under the Mines Act Wardens had the power to resolve mining disputes. Unfortunately we don’t have an early photo.

29-10 Wardens office-residence 24 Alice street 2007 web


Below: In Market Street near the Survey Office is the second Telegraph and Post Office. Note the verandah and counter windows. This was opened January 1872. It was used until 1891 when the service was moved to the present site in Broadway. The brick building replaced the 1859 weatherboard postal and telegraph office shown further below, which was to the right of the building shown. Prior to 1859 the Post Office was moved several times in the hectic gold rush town. To add to the confusion the Post Office in Dunolly retained the official name of Goldborough, which did not change as it was moved with each new rush; the Borough of Dunolly requested a name change in 1859. Goldborough is the correct spelling and to make things more complicated this has nothing to do with modern Goldsborough.

2nd Post Office as it appeared in December 2015.


Below: The wires can be seen going to the pole. The link was from Castlemaine via Maldon. The picture further below shows additional cables when the line had been extended to Tarnagulla.

Post and Telegraph Office 1861. George Jenkinson photo.
Post and Telegraph Office Dunolly c1866

Below: The Post Office in the main street, the 3rd site, was built in 1891. The clock was installed in 1949 as a WW2 memorial. If you visit, check the wear on the stone steps.

Post Office, Dunolly Photo by W.J. Sandow.

The Dunolly manual telephone exchange was removed from the Post Office in 1982 and is in the museum. It was on the ground level of the Post Office. It still has hand written notes on it from its last day in use and many books including a register of “suspicious calls”.

Manual Exchange in the museum.


Dunolly’s Hospital was a community project.  The hospital was built in stages commencing in 1859 and finished in 1874. The picture below is 1866 and beneath that is 1c1884 showing the doctor’s residence at left, from this time the buiding did not change dramatically until the early 1960s. In response to the oregon beams failing to comply with fire regulations, so it is said, the top storey was removed.  There is a book about the hospital’s history titled “The Dunolly District Hospital : a goldfields hospital story” Jean Anderson and Janet Watts.

Dunolly Hospital 1866 Aime Marchand photo.
Dunolly Hospital c-1884


To the right of the hospital was the Nurses’ Home built 1946-47 and now Dunolly’s Neighbourhood House. Post war shortages meant this took quite some time to build. The wing at the right side end has since been demolished. Under the small window at the left end is a foundation stone. Via the State Library of Victoria we have a set of pictures showing the laying of the stone, first sod turned and partial construction.

Dunolly Nurses Quarters 1947


Dunolly’s current Town Hall is shown here as it appeared in 2015. This  was built in 1884 as a Courthouse with the hall added in 1892. The original Borough Town Hall was located on the corner of Market and Bull Streets. In 1890 the use of the two buildings was swapped over (Not to be confused with the Bet Bet Shire Hall.) A marble plaque on the front wall of the Town Hall commemorates Queen Victoria’s reign and a monument in front commemorates her death. There is a plaque on a pillar noting the success of a peace loan in 1919. On November 1st 1921 the Borough of Dunolly merged with the Shire of Bet Bet. In 1974 Council moved to new shire offices on the east corner of Thompson and Broadway, now a private residence visible from the Town Hall.

It does get confusing as there were four court houses in total, three of the buildings still exist and all have changed use.

Town Hall Dec 2015

In the picture below, the painter of the Town Hall backdrop was Eddie Coombes. With its depiction of Dunolly Castle in Scotland, it lay under the stage of the hall in the rear section gathering dust. Under the stage was also where the limited rate records we have were found. The vast majority were erroneously pulped for the The Great War. The rear section of the hall was added in 1892 and is frequently used for local events and is available for hire, as is the front section.

Town Hall Front
Town Hall Rear.

Below: A panoramic photograph showing the Town Hall and Councilors. At right is the Royal Hotel. There has always been a pub on that site since the 1856 rush. The two storey building in the background is the bank where the Welcome Stranger nugget was sold.

1-1932 back to Dunolly Shire Councilors, fused
1932 back to Dunolly, showing Bet Bet Shire Councilors.


The Primary School has a book about it Called “A school on the rise” by Bill Humphreys. The school’s history is a complicated subject, even when setting aside all the other history involving early local education. Below is a single picture from our collection after some remodeling in 1915.

Dunolly State School 1915
Dunolly State School 1915