"There are more court houses in Dunolly than you can poke the proverbial stick at!" It's not that the town was particularly lawless, but the early civic fathers were keen to consolidate Dunolly's significance with important public buildings. The fully restored Dunolly Historic Precinct incorporates two former court and police sites; first, the Court House and Police buildings on Market Street and second, the Town Hall on Broadway. Proclaimed as a Borough in 1858, the original Borough of Dunolly Town Hall in Market Street was built in 1862-63, complete with a public library and reading room, as well as the usual Council Chamber and offices. In 1884 the centre of local government in Dunolly moved to Broadway; the recently built Court House on Broadway became the Town Hall and the beautiful court furniture and fittings were reconstructed in their present setting in the former Town Hall. The Court House in Market Street continued to operate for a century. A splendid theatre was added to the Town Hall on Broadway in 1890 and remains a theatre and musical venue to this day.
The Dunolly Historic Precinct is managed by a committed group of volunteers. The Committee initiated a comprehensive restoration project between 2008 and 2015 to enable an interesting visitor experience to both sites. The Court House Precinct on Market Street includes the Court House (1863), small police station (1958), police stables (1863) and the lockup (1863). Information displays and photographs, plus many original furnishings offer the visitor an insight into the police and justice system from the mid 19th century. Sitting on the magnificent raised bench turns everyone into a judge, while five minutes in the dark lockup is an effective deterrant for any future misdeeds. Faint scratches of names and dates remain on the walls, including some Chinese characters. The police horses certainly enjoyed better quarters than the prisoner. Their well-appointed brick stables are now fully restored, with local granite floors, timber stalls and feedboxes and the original timber ladder to the trapdoor of the hayloft. The small timber police station is typical of post war rural stations and the Police Museum has fenerously provided some furniture and fittings appropriate for the mid 20th century. The Court House site of the Historic Precinct is available for hire and group visits. Sculpture, painting and quilting exhibitions are held here and the Court House is the perfect venue for courtroom and legal practice training. It is a unique venue for concerts and weddings and the different buildings are creative spaces for a range of photo shoots, especially weddings. Further information about visiting and booking the Court House is available on the Dunolly Historic Precinct website dunollyhistoricprecinct.com.au. The Dunolly Town Hall on Broadway is regularly hired as a theatre and music venue. Backdrops and side flats are beautifully painted and date back to the 1930s. Comfortable dressing rooms, stage lighting and an excellent piano are resources seldom found in a small country town. A well-equipped kitchen can cater for up to 120 people for special events such as weddings, birthdays and dances. Smaller events, such as conferences and workshops function well in the carpeted front hall (the former Council Chamber) and the Committee room, which is splendid with its original wallpaper and cedar furniture. A whiteboard, screen and projector are available. Catering can be arranged for groups that hire any of our facilities. For further information, see the Dunolly Historic Precinct website:
dunollyhistoricprecinct.com.au. Booking, phone and email details are on the website.
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