Ballarat Common

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The Ballarat Common formed in 1861.[1]

By His Excellency Sir Henry Barkly, Knight Commander of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Captain-General and Governor-in Chief of the Colony of Victoria, and Vice-Admiral of the same, &c., &c., &c.
Whereas by an Act passed in the session of parliament holden in the twenty-third and twenty-fourth years of Her Majesty's reign, intituled, An act for regulating the sale of Crown Lands and for other purposes, it is amongst other things enacted, that it shall be lawful for the Governor in Council to proclaim that any Crown Lands in the vicinity of any town shall be a common for the inhabitants of such town, and all the inhabitants of such town and its vicinity shall from the time of such proclamation, be entitled to depasture their cattle and horses on such Common and such Common shall be called a "Town Common;" and it is further enacted, that it shall be lawful for the Governor in Council, or, in case of such Town Common shall be included within or adjoin the limits of any municipal district, then for the municipal council of such district with the consent of the Governor in Council , to make rules and regulations for determining how many horses and cattle every such inhabitant shall be entitled to depasture on any Town Common: Now therefore I, Sir Henry Barkly, the Governor of Victoria, with the advise of the Executive, do hereby proclaim that the Crown Lands in the vicinity of the several towns hereby mentioned, comprised within the description whereof is subjoined to the names of such towns respectively, shall be TOWNS COMMON within the meaning of the said Act, subject to such rules and regulations as shall be hereafter prescribed, for the use of the inhabitants of such towns: appendix 1.[2]

The Ballarat Common originally covered a large area on the Western outskirts of the City of Ballarat. Parts of the common have been alienated for urban and industrial development, other parts for recreation and for the Ballarat airport". "Some 680 hectares of the original Ballarat Common and adjoining Crown Land remains as public land. The bulk of this area is grazed under licence and supports very few trees or other native vegetation".
This report is concerned with the future of the common and the opportunity to reverse the trends mentioned above. The Public land should be consolidated and managed as a single unit.

Natural resources such as Winter Swamp, Flax Mill Swamp and remnant indigenous vegetation will form the basis of a management philosophy that aims to enhance wetland values, re-introduce indigenous vegetation, decrease grazing activity whilst increasing education and recreational opportunities. It is proposed to re-instate lost landscape character.

Ballarat Common Timeline

  • 1861 Ballarat Common formed.[3]
  • 1934 Flax Experiments by the Australian Flax and Cotton Company
  • 1949 The Wendouree West was excised from the Ballarat Common. It is north-west of Lake Wendouree, Ballarat, bounded by the Sunraysia Highway, Gillies Street and Ring Road.[4]
  • 1949 Proposed Slough Estate Factories (not developed)
SLOUGH ESTATES LTD, a £2 million English company, had decided to build a trading estate at Ballarat West common, Mr Hollway, Premier, announced last night.
Describing this as "Victoria's greatest industrial boost in his-tory," Mr Hollway said the com-pany had also acquired a site at Werribee for future development.
The company would build factories for leasing to other in-dustries. At first they would range from 1,500 to about 30,000 square feet in area, but would be bigger later, if necessary.
Model suburb
The Ballarat site, which was already served by a railway siding built in the war, had been selected by the company after surveying all possible areas. It would become a model suburb.
The company intended to provide amenities at Ballarat simi-lar to those at the company's 25-year-old estate at Slough, England, where there were 500 factories, 10 miles of private railways, theatres, clinics, stadia, and swimming pools.
Mr Hollway was confident that oversea and local firms would welcome the opportunity to use the buildings to establish industries in Victoria. Already the company had received many applications.
Selection of Victoria by the company showed that the possi-bilities of industrial expansion in this State were unrivalled in Australia.
Own materials
The company, realising that priority must be given to home building iii Victoria, intended to bring its own materials.
When he was in England, Mr Hollway said, he had met Sir Noel Mobbs, chairman of the company, and had inspected the Slough Estate, in Buckinghamshire. He had been so impressed that he had invited Sir Noel to visit Victoria in the hope that he would establish a similar industry here.
Sir Noel had accepted the invitation, and on his return to England he had sent Mr C. Fairall, sales and developmental manager, to Victoria to com-plete investigations.
After Mr E. Bartrop, chairman of the State Decentralisation Committee, had shown Mr Fairall most of Victoria, he recommended Ballarat as the most suitable site.[5]

Victorian Legislative Assembly, 04 July 1951
Mr. GALVIN (Bendigo) asked the 'Minister of State Development.
1. What agreement was entered into with the Slough Estates by the Hollway Government relative to the Ballarat Common and when it was made?
2. What progress (if any) has been made to develop the area in aocordance with the promise made by the then Minister of Lands?
3. What programme (if any) the company has for the further development of the area?
4. Whether he is satisfied that the company has carried out its obligations to develop the area; if not, will he take immediate action to see that this valuable land is utilized for industry, housing and/or recreation purposes?
Mr. HYLAND (Minister of State Develqpment).-The answers are
In January, 1949, the then Premier, Mr. Hollway, advised the chairman of Slough Estates Limited, that upon firm advices of intention to establish at Ballarat, as say, from the 1st of January, 1950, an area of 50 acres of land on the Ballarat West Common could be granted for immediate development. In addition a further 150 acres would' be held for a reasonable period for extension of a trading estate as may be justified.
The offer also provided for the provision of utility services and an indication was given that the erection of houses by the Housing Commission could be expected.
This offer was accepted by the company in June, 1949, and subsequently the Minister of Lands was asked by the then Premier, Mr. Hollway, to make a free grant of 50 acres at the Ballarat West Common to Slough Estates Limited.
Repeated representations have been made by the present Government urging the company to proceed with the proposals, but advice has now been received that it has no alternative to asking the Government to withdraw the offer made in 1949. In the circumstances, I have advised Slough Estates Limited that the Government now regards the transaction as closed.
Negotiations are now proceeding with a view to the early development of the area for industrial purposes.[6]
  • 1950 The Common 's Permanent Reservation status was revoked in 1950 in favour of the disignation Public Purpose Reserve.[7]
  • 2014 Ballarat West Town Common was dissolved (ie the entirety of the old common.)

Excised Building on Ballarat Common Land

Ballarat High School (1908)

Ballarat Lunatic Asylum (1866)

The State Government established the asylum on 200 acres of land that was previously used as the Industrial School. It became the Ballarat Mental Hospital in 1934, and Lakeside Hospital in 1969.[8]

Ballarat Teachers' College (1956)

16 acres was set aside for the Ballarat Teachers' College and hostel. This site was later used at the Ballarat Specialist School.[9]

Ballarat Aerodrome (1944)

Ballarat Gold Club (1895)

Flax Experiments by the Australian Flax and Cotton Company (1934)

In keeping with its policy of guarding against alienation of public lands, the Ballarat City branch of the Australian Natives' Association wrote recently to the Lands department regarding the applica-tion of Australian Flax Industries Ltd. for a lease of 10 acres as a drying ground at the Ballarat West common. A reply was received from the department on Monday night stating that any tenure would be of a temporary nature. The association decided to write to the managers of the common protesting against any lease being conceded.[10]
When the Australian Flax and Cotton Company applied to the common managers for permission to utilise a certain area at the common for treatment purposes, strong objection was offered to the request by the city branch of the Australian Natives' Association, on the ground that public land should not be occupied to the exclusion of the public. Since then, however, it has been ascertained that the use of the land will not interfere with the rights of the public, and the objection has been withdrawn. It Is stated that experimental plots of flax are giving very promising results, and it Is expected that a fairly large area will be put under cultivation next year.[11]

Prince of Wales Park (1988)

A 50 acres site was excied in favour of Friendly Societies.[12]

Wendouree West Housing Commission Estate (1949)

Ballarat School of Mines 24 hectare Land Laboratory for Rural Studies. (1979)

Ballarat Aquatic Centre

Winter Swamp

Flax Mill Swamp

Flax Mill swamp was part of the Ballarat Common formed in 1861.[13]

The People

Colonel G.F. Morton. Secretary of Common Managers c1917-1969[14]

Also See

History of the Ballarat Common


  1. file:///D:/User%20Profile%20Data/Downloads/Ballarat_West_Town_Common_Lanscape_and_Future_Management.pdf, accessed 28 May 2021
  2. Victorian Government Gazette. 1861. p256.
  3. file:///D:/User%20Profile%20Data/Downloads/Ballarat_West_Town_Common_Lanscape_and_Future_Management.pdf
  5. 04 June 1949.
  6., accessed 02 June 2021.
  7. Driscoll, June, Metamorphoses at the Ballarat Town Common: Were Changes for the Common Good?, UP, University of Ballarat, 2004m p.8.
  8. Driscoll, June, Metamorphoses at the Ballarat Town Common: Were Changes for the Common Good?, UP, University of Ballarat, 2004m p.8.
  9. Driscoll, June, Metamorphoses at the Ballarat Town Common: Were Changes for the Common Good?, UP, University of Ballarat, 2004m p.8.
  10. The Argus, 06 NOvember 1934.
  11. The Argus, 21 November 1934.
  12. Driscoll, June, Metamorphoses at the Ballarat Town Common: Were Changes for the Common Good?, UP, University of Ballarat, 2004m p.8.
  13. file:///D:/User%20Profile%20Data/Downloads/Ballarat_West_Town_Common_Lanscape_and_Future_Management.pdf, accessed 28 May 2021
  14. Driscoll, June, Metamorphoses at the Ballarat Town Common: Were Changes for the Common Good?, UP, University of Ballarat, 2004m p.8.
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