(former courthouse) with Queen Victoria
monument in foreground
Dunolly (including Bealiba)
Small service centre once an important gold
Dunnolly is a small town of some 750 people
which started out as a goldmining town with an
alleged population of some 35 000. 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. Dunolly is
situated amidst attractive bushland 178 km
north-west of Melbourne via Maldon and 23 km
north of Maryborough.
The area is thought to have been occupied by
the Wemba-Wemba Aborigines prior to white
settlement. The Dunolly pastoral run was
established by Campbell McDougall in 1845 and
named after the seat of the McDougall clan -
Dunolly Castle in Scotland. Other settlers began
to take up land at the end of the 1840s.
When gold was discovered at Moliagul in 1852
a town called Dunolly began to emerge near the
Dunolly home (which was promptly vacated). One
of the state's earliest vineyards was
established here in 1854 and only closed
recently. Gold was discovered that year at Burnt
Creek (3 km south-east of the present townsite
When a major strike occurred downstream in
1856 a new rush was precipitated 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 (now much-reduced).
The new townsite was surveyed in 1857 but, as
the gold was excoriated from the creek-beds, the
population dwindled to some 400, only to revive
again with a new strike in the 1860s.
Moliagul and Tarnagulla, Dunolly forms the
Golden Triangle - a district which has turned up
more nuggets than any other in Australia. The
largest was the 'Welcome Stranger' which, at 66
kg, was, at that time, the largest in the world.
The good fortune extended as far as 1976 when a
5.6-kg nugget turned up.
The railway arrived from Maryborough in 1874.
The Dunolly Goldrush Festival is held on the
Melbourne Cup weekend in November.
Things to see:
(a residence - c.1863)
The town's tourist information outlet is the
Welcome Stranger Cafe which is situated at the
corner of Broadway and Bull St in a building
which may date back to 1865, tel: (03) 5468
1032. Broadway has an historic streetscape and
there is a pamphlet outlining the town's many
historic buildings and other sites of interest.
Free brochures indicate the routes and
historic sites associated with four bicycle
paths which are part of the Golden Triangle
network. However, the condition of these tracks
may have declined owing to a lack of
Historic Buildings - Broadway
Over the road from the Welcome Stranger Cafe is
the post office (1890). Heading south along
Broadway towards Thompson St are the old Bendigo
Hotel with Cobb & Co stables (at the rear of
Daly's General Store) and the Royal Hotel which
was first erected in 1856 but rebuilt in 1894.
Also along this side of the street are Finders
Prospecting Supplies where you can hire or buy
prospecting equipment and obtain maps outlining
prospecting areas, tel: (03) 5468 1333.
On the other side of the street, heading
south from Bull St, are the Railway Hotel (built
in 1858 as the Criterion Hotel) and the old
London Chartered Bank (1857) - a two-storey
Classical Revival building with Roman arches
along the ground floor. It was here that the
66-kg 'Welcome Stranger Nugget' (see entry on
Moliagul) was weighed and sold in 1869. It is
now a private residence.
The building adjacent was built as a
courthouse in 1862 but the judge complained of
the acoustics and a swap was made with the law
courts moving into the old town hall in Bull St
and the council moving into this building. At
the Thompson St corner is the museum.
which the Welcome Stranger nugget was
cut, outside the historical museum
The Goldfields Historical and Arts Museum (1862)
is open in the afternoon on weekends and public
holidays and at other times by appointment (the
contact number is on the front door). Displays
include a replica of the 66-kg 'Welcome
Stranger' gold nugget found 14 km north at
Moliagul in 1869, the Welcome Stranger Anvil
Monument upon which the nugget was cut, a
4-million-year-old fossilised wombat jaw and
relics of early European settlement.
Turn left into Thompson St. At Thompson and
Barkly is the unusual St John's Anglican Church,
a freestone structure erected between 1866
and1869 (the pipe organ was installed in 1879).
A little further down Barkly St is St John's
Hall (1857) which was later used as the first
Old Presbyterian Church
Walk along Barkly St and turn left into Hardy
St. To the right is the old Presbyterian Church,
now the RSL Hall (1864).
Continue along Hardy St to the Market St
intersection where you will see St Mary's
Catholic Church, a Gothic Revival structure
built of granite between 1869 and 1871.
Former Vicarage and Old Post Office
Head north along Market St. On the left, before
you reach Thompson St, is the former Anglican
vicarage, a single-storey building with steep
roofs and decorative gables, erected in 1864-65.
It is now a private residence. At Market and
Thompson is the old post and telegraph office
Masonic Lodge and Chauncy House
Continue along Market St and turn right into
Bourke St. At its end is the town's first
courthouse (1858) which soon became, and
remains, a masonic lodge (1858). On the other
side of Havelock St is Chauncy House (1859),
built as an inn.
Walk north along Havelock St. Just past Bull St,
to the right, is the district hospital. The
foundation stone was laid in 1859 and the first
wing opened in 1869.
Return to Bull St and follow it west to the
Market St corner where you will find the
imposing Classical courthouse consisting of a
large central section with symmetrical
side-wings. Built as the town hall in 1862 it
changed its function in 1887. It contains
photographs and artefacts relating to the
courthouse and the old goldfields. It can be
viewed but by appointment only, tel: (03) 5468
Next door to the courthouse, on the police
station property, is the town's original brick
lock-up (1859). Opposite is James Bell's mansion
Turn into Market St following it north then turn
left into Tweedale St. To the left is the
Methodist (now Uniting) Church and Sunday school
About 12 km east of Dunolly along the road to
Eddington is the south-western corner of
Laanecoorie Reservoir (7749 megalitres). A road
then heads off to the left past the western
shoreline of the reservoir. At the north-western
corner is a caravan park, tel: (03 5435 7303).
Built in 1889, this was one of Victoria's first
reservoirs. It is a popular spot for picnicking,
swimming, boating, sailing, canoeing,
windsurfing, fishing, waterskiing, bushwalking,
a playground and camping.
Bealiba is located 21 km north-west of Dunolly.
There is an information board in the main street
which details the town's history and
attractions. The first Europeans in the local
area were drovers (c.1840) and the first settler
was George Coutts in 1845. However, it was the
Cochrane brothers who lay behind the
establishment of the town (the district was
known as Cochranes until 1863).
Gold was discovered at the foot of Mt Bealiba
in 1856 and, although the subsequent rush saw
the town rocket to a population peak of 12 000,
it only lasted 18 months, after which land
became available for selection and farming
began. The railway proved a boon to local
agriculture when it arrived from Dunolly in
1878. The town's population was still a healthy
2000 prior to the First World War.
Bealiba's past is evident in some of its
buildings. The hotel was erected in 1857, the
town hall in 1879, the old school in the late
1870s and the churches date back to the earliest
days of settlement. There is a craft shop in
town called Bits & Pieces, tel: (03) 5469 1228.
There are walking tracks through the red
ironbark forests of the proximate Bealiba
There are a range of excellent cycle tracks
around Dunolly. Check out
for more details.