Old Colonists' Association

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Ballarat Gold Pioneers Prior to the Issue of the Gold License, 1851
William Collard Smith, Federation University Historical Collection (Cat. No. 275)
John P. Murray, c1894.
Ballarat Old Colonists' Association World War One Honour Board
William Irwin, c1894.
Francis Jago



The origins of the Ballarat Old Colonists’ Association can be traced back to 1867 when James Oddie instigated a reunion of early gold miners. The group was known initially as the Golden Point Old Pioneers Association and later simply as the Ballarat Pioneers Association. The miners initially met on an ad hoc basis for social purposes and in 1883 meetings were formalised becoming the formal beginning. The name was changed over and finally to its current ‘The Old Colonists’ Association of Ballarat’.

One of the first objectives of the Association was "to provide the shelter of a hose for those Pioneers of the Goldfields whom the reverses of fortune have deprived of the means of procuring the comforts of life in their declining years." The first home at Charles Anderson Grove was built in 1925. Before that time the Association provided relief for needy pioneers. relief included monthly monetary payments, loads of firewood, medical assistance and distribution of Christmas bosed of groceries to deserving pensioners, and in some cases payment of burial costs.

William B. Withers wrote of the Old Colonists' Association:

The objects of the association are to form a bond of brotherhood among those whose long connection with commercial or mining pursuits on the Victorian goldfields so ultimately associate them with the early history of the colony; men to whose indomitable energy and perseverance Ballarat and other mining centres are so largely indebted for their development and material prosperity; some of whose names, also, are closely identified with that memorable and sanguinary struggle for freedom and constitutional liberty in ’54. To gather together in one fold those who survive these stirring times; to meet occasionally in social and friendly intercourse; to relieve our brethren who are overtaken by sickness or affliction; to pro vide the shelter of a home for those pioneers of the goldfields whom the reverses of for tune have deprived of the means of procuring the comforts of life in their declining years; to assist the widow and succor the orphan; to mutually cheer and support each other in our temporary trials and vicissitudes as we journey onward to the grave; and, lastly, to render a tri bute of respect to the memory of a departed brother, by following his remains to their final resting place. The receipts from all sources during the past-year, amount to £292 4s 9d. Expenditure (including £65 17s 6d for relief votes and donations to local charitable institutions), £224 18s 4d. In crease of fuuds for the year, £67 6s sd. The total general receipts to date (19th August, 1886), amount to £463 63 l0d. The expenditure, £316 14s 6d. Balance to credit of association, £146 12s 4d. There are 122 contributing and 139 honorary members — including four ladies; total, 261. The qualification for membership is residence on any of the Victorian goldfields for not less than twenty-five years. The fees for admission are — For contributing member, 4s entrance; contributions, 6d per week, for twelve months, 31 per week afterwards; yearly honorary members, 10s per annum, payable in advance; life honorary members, £2 2s. The site for a hall and offices, comprising 2r 2 2 l0p, situated in Camp street, was gazetted, as reserved for the association, on the 9th July, 1886. The site is one of the oldest local landmarks, being a portion of the old Government Camp, and as such forms an appropriate gift to an association composed of Old Identities of Ballarat. Owing to some obstacle existing, which prevented the Lands Department granting the land to a body calling themselves ‘Old Identities,’ it was resolved, at a special meeting of the association, held on the 18th May last, to alter the name to ‘The Old Colonists’ Association of Ballarat. Thus far Mr Fraser in 1887. The office bearers for the current year 1887-8 are : President, John Paul Murray; Vice-presidents, James William Graham and Thomas Stoddart; treasurer, Daniel Fern; trustees, William Irwin, J. W. Graham, and John McCafferty; council, Charles Dyte, James Ward, Frederick Ramsden, and James Vallins; honorary solicitor, Charles Salter; medical officer, Dr Holthouse; dispenser, W. H. Malyon; auditors, Thomas Richards and David Christy; bankers, Bank of New South Wales; secretary, John Fraser. Since Mr Fraser’s communication of 1887 great changes have come to the association. The Camp street site has been given up, and a much more valuable site in Lydiard street obtained, namely, that on which stood the old bluestone dungeon known originally as the local sub treasury, and lately as the den of the mining registrar. Upon this site the association has erected, from designs by Mr A. G. Legge, a two-story-building, as an Old Colonists’ Hall, the following description of which I take from The Star columns: —“The lower portion is built in Waurn Ponds freestone, while the upper part is of brick, cemented, stained dark, and tuck-pointed. The centre bay is supported by two three-quarter columns, with lonic caps, which are surmounted by a pediment on which rests an excellent cast of the Ballarat coat of arms. There are four other bays, which are carried by partly fluted pilasters, with Corinthian caps. The keystone of the arch that caps the main en trance displays, in marble, a very excellent representation of the head of the president of the association, Mr John Murray, J.P. The space within the walls has been utilised to the best advantage. On the either side of the ample hall that leads to the stairway are — on the ground floor, shops, which are already occupied. The first floor is devoted entirely to the uses of the association. The principal room is the hall, where the meetings will be held. This is 44 feet x 33 feet, and is 17 feet high. Opposite this are the committee room (14 feet x 16 feet) and secretary’s room (14 feet x 17 feet 6 inches), while provision is also made for a kitchen, bedrooms, bathroom, &c. Fronting the street are two large rooms that can be let for offices or utilised for club purposes. The first floor is reached lay a wide stone stair case, handsomely balustered, which termi nates on a spacious landing, over the centre of which is a dome, with cornice and ornaments. The walls around are panelled with marble slabs, on which the names of officers and other prominent members will be inscribed from time to time. Ample provision has been made for lighting and ventilating the rooms, while the requirements of the Central Board of Health in the matter of providing means of egress have been carefully attended to. The gas fittings are unique in pattern, and very handsome. The graining of the doors and windows has been done most artistically, and the colors have been selected with a view to their thorough harmonisation. In fact, the whole of the work has been carried out in a thorough and tasteful manner, and reflects considerable credit on all connected with it. The contractors for the work were Messrs Whitelaw and Atkinson, Irving and Glover, Reynolds, and J. Donaldson. The building has costsa trifle over £4ooo.” On the 30th August, 1888, the building was formally opened, and 150 guests sat down to a feast in the hall, under the chairman ship of Mr Murray, the president of the association. The Star reports that he “had on his right hand the Hon. J. L. Dow, ALL. A., Minister of Lands; the Hon. D. Ham, M.L.C.; and Mr J. M‘Donald, mayor of the city. Amongst others present were the Hons. Henry Gore and J. B. Macpherson, M’s.L.C.; Dr Rose, and Messrs D. Gaunson, C. E. Jones, R. T. Vale, J. Russell, and E. Murphy, M’s.L.A.; Mr N. Melville, M.L.A., of Sydney; Mr Elsworth, mayor of Ballarat East; Archdeacon Julius, and other leading citizens. Apologies received from the following were read by Mr C. Dyte:— His Excel lency the Governor; the Hon. D. Gillies, Premier; the Hon. A. Deakin, Chief Secre tary; the Hon. Hy. Cuthbert, Minister of Justice; the Hons. W. C. Smith, M.L.A.; Mr M. H. Davies, Speaker; Messrs L. L. Smith, M.L.A.; J. N. Wilson, R. M‘Gregor, and Dr Holthouse. The gathering broke up shortly after midnight with the National Anthem.” This is all a sign of life in the association, whose roll of members numbered 505 at the end of August, I888, when the finances showed a credit balance of £377 193 3d for the general or relief fund. The building cost £4074 13s 8d, raised by loan for seven years, at 7 per cent, per annum, the annual revenue from the four shops alone being £46S, whilst the whole of the upper storey is still available for revenue purposes. It is proposed that an Old Colonists’ Club shall be formed, and already (November, 1888) all of the required 50 club members’ names have been obtained, so that the completion of the business would seem to be mere matter of brief time now. If the project be carried out the premises will be duly licensed as a club hotel, and will be provided with ordinary club accommodation.[1]


a) The dominant purpose of the Association is to give public benevolent relief as a charity, but providing independent living accommodation in our Retirement Village for person in need who are over 65.
b) To raise funds by membership subscription, commercial and residential rents, donations, gifts and voluntary work, for the purpose of providing direct relief of poverty, distress, misfortune or helplessness.
c) To maintain the important heritage and ongoing viability of the Old Colonists' Association.[2]

Charles Anderson Grove Retirement Village

The first home at Charles Anderson Grove was built in 1925.



The origins of the Ballarat Old Colonists’ Association can be traced back to 1867 when James Oddie instigated a reunion of early gold miners. The group was known initially as the Golden Point Old Pioneers' Association and later simply as the Ballarat Pioneers Association. The miners initially met on an ad hoc basis for social purposes and in 1883 meetings were formalised becoming the formal beginning. The name was changed over and finally to its current ‘The Old Colonists’ Association of Ballarat’.

Golden Point, Ballarat, 1851—Any of the small band of diggers present at the Golden Point on the First of September, 1851, will oblige by communicating with the undersigned, with a view to a reunion, in commemoration of the discovery of the first paying goldfield in Victoria. James Oddie, Dana street, Ballarat.[3]

A VERY pleasant anniversary is thus referred to by the Ballarat Star :-" It was sixteen years ago, last month, that the first prospectors arrived on Golden Point, and began to lay the foundations of this large city. The philanthropic soul, too, may solace itself with the assurance that some of those pioneers have since then built up very nice fortunes of their own-poetic justice, we may hope, is reward of their paving the way for a good many other people's good luck. Mr. James Oddie, J.P., who also was the first chairman of the municipality of Ballarat, was one of those earliest pioneers, and he and several other of the adventurers of the time celebrated the fifteenth anniversary of their enterprise on the 2nd of September just past. The first was the anniversary day, but that fell on Sunday, and Mr. Oddie having invited his co-adventurers to his house on the 2nd, they made decorously merry over the comparison of old notes with the new scenes. The days of cradles, tents, and boots well pipe-clayed were talked over, a relic of antiquity in the form of the Geelong Advertiser of the remote time in question, giving reminiscent vigor to the feast of 'don't you remember,' and the flow of 'Oh, yes, and don't you recollect,' 'what a change now, eh ?' and similar expressions of serene remembrance, and even jolly satisfaction. The pioneers present were Mr. and Mrs. Oddie, Mr. and Mrs. T. Bath, Messrs. Chalmers, Woodward, Turner, and Penhalluriack, all of Ballarat, and Mr. Paterson, of Geelong. We understand that it is the intention of the host to make the reunion an annual one, and to enlarge the scheme of celebration. Long may the pioneers live, and merry and wise be their meetings."[4]

August 1872

The committee of the Ballarat Pioneers' Association held another meeting on Saturday night, at the Buck's Head Hotel, for the purpose of adopting the programme of the speeches, toasts, &c, to be given at the banquet to be held shortly, and a small com-mittee was appointed to make arrangements for obtaining the services of some musicians for the occasion.[5]

26 August 1872

The first gathering of the pioneers of Ballarat took place under the auspices of the Ballarat Pioneers Association.[6]


A MEETING of Enrolled Ballarat Pioneers will be held on WEDNESDAY, the 11th of June, at the CAMP HOTEL, at 8 p.m., when the Pioneers’ Committee will submits report, Including proposals for the formation of a Ballarat Pioneers’ Association.[7]

A meeting of Old Pioneers, whose names are on the roll, was held on Wednesday evening, at the Camp hotel, to receive a report of the committee and discuss proposals for the formation of a Pioneers' Association. The hon. John Basson Humffray presided. The hon. secretary, Mr Cox, read the following report:—“ First annual report of the Ballarat Pioneers committee.—Brother Pioneers, As the year of office to which you appointed us is near over, we have deemed it desirable to call a meeting of enrolled pioneers that we might lay before you a report for the year, and invite your attention to proposals for the formation of a more closely-organised association. The first work of the committee was the carrying out of the Pioneers’ Banquet on the 26th day of August last. No fewer than 450 guests met in the Alfred Hall on that occasion, and you will agree with us that it was one of the most memorable social gatherings in our local history. Another duty was the providing a roll for the recep tion of the names of pioneers. There are now 350 names enrolled. The committee took opportunity during the year to exchange friendly, greetings with the Society, of Old Bendigonians, the pioneers of old Bendigo, and seven of our number were guests at their last annual gathering. As your representatives our brother, committeemen were received with royal hospitality, and the committee have, since then, had the pleasure of receiving a visit from representatives of the Society of Old Bendigonians. On that occasion, in December last, a Pioneers’ Picnic was held, and our visitors were shown over the town and district. We did our best to return the kind reception given to your representatives when they visited Sandhurst, and we take this opportunity to thank Messrs Thomas Cowan, Thomas Bath, and Hubert Colvin for the very liberal assistance they gave us in that pleasant labor. Those gentlemen materially helped us to show old Ballarat and its hospitalities in such a fashion as to : induce our Bendigo visitors to say that Ballarat Pioneers were not altogether a bad sort. As we consider that the association we propose will be a proper method of preserving the good pioneer. fel lowship already evoked, we trust the proposals which the hon. secretary will presently read to you, will meet your approval, and our organisation be as permanent as its nature will permit. Wm, Cox, Hon. Secretary. The report was adopted, and the hon. secretary then read a paper containing proposals for the formation of a Ballarat Pioneers’ Association and the draft of its constitution, the fee for membership being £1 a year payable half-yearly in advance. The constitution, with some few amendments, was adopted, and the association was formally inaugurated, the names of those willing to join being taken down. A vote of thanks, very cordially moved, seconded, and supported, was passed to Mr Cox, the secretary, for the constant devotion he had gratuitously shown to the work he had undertaken daring the past year. The vote was passed with cheers, and Mr Cox briefly and very modestly responded. An adjournment to that night fortnight at the Mechanics’ Institute was carried, and a vote of thanks to the chair closed the proceedings.[8]Ballarat Star, 05 June 1873.</ref>


The third anniversary of the Ballarat Pioneers' Association was celebrated yesterday, when a number of the Old Bendigonians arrived by the morning train, and were entertained and lionised throughout the day. ... In the evening they were invited to Craig's hotel, where they sat down to a well-provided dinner, which was placed upon the table in excellent style, under the eye of the new host, Mr E. C. Moore. About sixty covers were laid, and all the seats were occupied; Mr H. R. Nicholls ably filling the chair, and Messrs Caselli and Henry Davies the vice-chairs. ... Some critic had said that these toasts savored somewhat of "our noble selves"— (Hear, hear) — but he did not see why the toasts should not be of this nature, because they were celebrating a very great event — the foundation of a nation in the midst of a wilderness. They did not claim the credit of the work, but they did a great deal of it, and managed to build cities where there was only bush previously and happily still remained here to be able to announce the fact. It had been said that the old colonists had become hardened in the struggles they had gone through, and been accused of a want of sociability; but he denied this, and such gatherings as these annual celebrations proved that there was a very strong feeling of friendship and regard between them. ... In giving the toast of "the Eureka Stockade; those who died there, and the memories evoked by it," Mr Jones referred in a very feeling manner to those, miners who had fallen while resisting the tyrannous heel of authority, as well as the soldiers who had marched forward at the word of command to do the duty demanded of them. If there had been even a shadow of representation; for the people at that time, there would have been no reason for the armed resistance to constitutional authority which took place that day twenty years; - and this showed the "true value of Parliament, and the adherence of the people to constitutional government He regretted the absence from this gathering of the commander-in-chief of the rebels (Mr Peter Lalor). The toast was drank in solemn silence. Mr Lynch, in responding, endorsed all that' Mr Jones had said, and contended that there were occasions when opposing constitutional authority was not only advisable, but commendable. 'The history of England and other countries had proved, this, and they all knew how the diggers in the early days were maltreated and abused." Mr J. B. Humffray, being called upon, said he would rather that he might have been eloquent by his silence, for there were too many things to be uttered if speech were allowed in reference to that memorable occasion. He had been hammered on the back with a policeman's baton — he saw other miners chained to logs and cruelly used, yet he was an advocate for peaceful measure. But they all were determined to resist the tyranny of those times, and a good many present took their share in it in various ways; but they had nothing to be ashamed of in the memories of twenty years ago. ("Hear, hear;", and applause.) ..." [9]

April 1976

Members were permitted to introduce ladies as guests on Saturday evenings after 8pm, and in May they were permitted in the Wine Room after 6.30pm.


The Old Colonists' Club becomes a patron of the Eureka Celebration Committee.

Early 1880s

Old Identities' Association was formed with the purpose of offering financial and other assistance to miners and thir families who fell upon hard times.[10]

24 August 1883

The Old Colonists' Association was formed, and in part, its objects read: To form a bond of brotherhood ... to relieve our brethren who are overcome by sickness ... to provide shelter of a house for those ... whom the reverses of fortune have deprived of procuring the comforts of life in their declining years.[11]

28 September 1883

A meeting was held last evening at Mr Bagshaw's academy. Mr Bryson occupied the chair, while Mr Butler filled the vice-chair. The draft of rules for constitution was revised and then adopted. A commit tee was next formed to draw up a code of members’ rules for the guidance of the association. The next meeting will take place on the last. Thursday in October. Mr Osbourne, the secretary to the Old Identities, is a resident of Ballarat since 1851. His assistance, therefore, is invaluable, more especially when the old pioneers are discussing matters relating to the very early days of the diggings.[12]


The Old Colonists' Hall was built for the Old Colonists' Association.[13]


The annual dinner of the Old Colonists’ Association was held last night, at the City Hall, when there was a very large attend ance. The chair was occupied by Mr John Murray, J.P., president of the association, who had on his right hand Mr Chas. Brown, president, and Mr R. G. Johnston, secretary, of the Old Colonists’ Association, Melbourne, and Mr Pyman. On his left were Lieut. Col. Smith and Mr Jones, M.L.A. The vice-chair was occupied by Mr J. W. Graham, ex-president of the local association. Mr McIntyre, of Bridge street, had prepared an ample repast, the tables were tastefully laid out, and the waiting was excellent. The loyal toasts having been disposed of, Mr C. Dyte proposed “The Parliament of Victoria,” remarking that the legislation effected by present and past Parliaments had been such as had benefited the colony. ... Mr L. Pritchard proposed “The Old Colonists Association of Ballarat. He was proud to propose such a toast. The old colonists met together for pleasure and for mutual help, and would keep green memories of many whose names could not be handed down to history. He hoped the poet would yet arise who would immortalise the doings at the Eureka Stockade. The Old Colonists were the flowers of the countries they came from, and gave manhood to the community that could grapple with difficulties and overcome them. Most of the young men were guilty, no doubt, of desiring to oust the old colonist; the majority of the thinking young men were content to fill the gaps made by death and march side by side with the old veterans, gaining by their experience. (Applause.) The old colonists were the fathers of an Australasian empire yet to be. Mr John Murray responded. He remarked that the association had been four years in existence, and numbered 366 members. He hoped next year they would have double that number. They had enough money in hand to keep them out of hot water. They saw that night the stuff that Ballarat was made of. They were about to commence building a hall that would cost between £3000 and £4000, and the financial arrangements were all completed. They had to thank the Government for a fine site, and would endeavor to erect on it a building worthy of the site and worthy of Ballarat. (Applause.) Mr J. B. Humffray, a member of the first Legislative Council, also responded. It was not the privilege of everyone to see a city like Ballarat spring out of the wilderness, and he was proud to be there as an old pioneer. It had contributed one-fourth of the whole of the gold raised in the colony, representing over £50,000,000. Ballarat was not indebted to any other place for its prosperity and present position. He hoped many other youths would follow Mr Pritchard’s example in recognising the old colonists’ labors. He did not ask them to copy their mistakes, but their good points. ... [14]

21 June 1887

The foundation stone for the Old Colonists' Hall was laid on Queen Victoria's Jubilee day by J.P. Murray, President of the Old Colonists' Association.

26 September 1887

Tenders sought for the erection of the Old Colonists' Hall.

TENDERS will be received for the ERECTION of OLD COLONISTS’ HALL. Plans and Specifications to be seen at my office, until 30th instant, 12 o’clock. A. G. LEGGE, Architect.[15]


The Old Colonists' Club, an offshoot of the Old Colonists' Association, Ballarat, was formed. The first President was John Paul Murray, who held the position until his death in 1904.[16]

The membership of the Old Colonists' Association stood at 403, comprising 153 subscribing members, 135 life members, 105 yearly members and 10 female honorary members.[17]

The Old Colonists' Hall, which has cost nearly £5000, is now completed. The opening is to be celebrated on Friday by a banquet given by the president, Mr. John Murray. [18]

On Monday, the 26th of August, 1572, under the auspices of the Ballarat Pioneers Association, the fiist great gathering of the pioneers of Ballarat took place “ to celebrate the 21st anniversary of the rocking of the first gold cradle in Ballarat.” The gathering was held in the Alfred Hall, which was made gay with flags, mottos, flowers, and green boughs. Of the meeting my report in 'The Star says:—“ There never has been so large a public dinner in Ballarat as this of the Bal larat pioneers. When the Duke of Edinburgh was feted in the same hall some 252 guests assembled, but on this occasion of the gathering of the pioneers 420 guests sat down, and many were excluded because they had not obtained tickets in time. Lady friends of pioneers were there, and from all parts of tile district and colony there came men gray with the gathered years, and with memories full of the times that can never come hack again. The men who found Golden Point were represented by Woodward and Warren. Adams, the “ father of Buninyong,” was there. George lnnes, “King of the Splitters,” was there. Oddie, Bath, and others of the 1851 days were there. Mrs Bath was there, and it was one of the events of the day that that lady was formally invested by the presi dent with a blind wreath in token of her being tiie first woman who braved the then unknown dangers and hardships of the new goldfields. The investiture was accompanied by a chaste presidential embrace and the ringing cheers of the large assembly.[19]


The Old Colonists' Club purchased a full sized billiard table from the Melbourne firm of Alcock and Co. A 10 pound deposit was made to the cost (in excess of 110 pounds) with the balance paid over two years.[20]

June 1890

A second billiard table was purchased second hand at Pobjoy's auctions but the Club President for 58 pounds.[21]

Lord Hopetoun visited Ballarat and the Ballarat Old Colonists' Hall.[22]


Membership was between 800 and 900, and 254 pounds was distributed to needy members besides paying funeral and other expenses.[23]

The eighth annual dinner of the Old Colonists’ Association was celebrated last night in the hall Lydiard street. About 80 ladies and gentlemen sat down to an excellent spread, catered for by Mr D M'Kenzie. The dining room was very prettily decorated with flags and evergreens and presented a very gay appearance, reflecting great credit upon those who had charge of the decorating. At the president’s end of the room was a picture containing the photographs of the foundation members of the association, surrounded by the Australian flag and the Stars and Stripes, on the right of which was the association’s flag, while on the left was the Union Jack. The chair was occupied by the president, Mr J. P. Murray, while vice presidents Wright and Dyte occupied the vice chairs. Among the visitors were Messrs Brooks and Johnson, president and secretary of the Old Colonists’ Association, Melbourne. Mr Rogers, member of the council; Messrs J. C. F. W. Wightwick (Clunes); Councillors Little and Ivey; Mr T. F. Hart, president of the city branch A.N.A., Mr Richards, president eastern branch A.N A The Hon E. Morey and Mr Jas. Oddie, After justice had been done to the good things provided and the usual loyal toasts honored, The chairman moved “The Toast of the Governor.” He expressed a hope that the people of Melbourne would not spoil the young Scotchman. (Hear, hear ) He was undoubtedly one of the best Governors Victoria ever had, and it was to be hoped that he would long be spared to represent Her Majesty in the colony. (Applause ) The toast was drunk with musical honors. Song, “ Maid of Athens,” Mr James. Mr C. Dyte, vice president, moved “The Parliament of Victoria ” In doing so he said he would not deal with the merits or dements of the local representatives. Parliament was a very fair reflex of the people. (Applause.) Song, Miss Sharp The Hon E. Morey responded. He thought that toasting ought to be a thing of the past. He was not much of a speaker, but was a good listener and voter. (Applause) The present was an age of reform. (Hear) The reform of federation was occupying the attention of the Legislature. It was necessary that the greatest possible care should be taken in the matter, or the whole of the good work done in the past would be upset. It was time that some reforms were made in the railway management, and he hoped something would be done in that direction before the present session was brought to a close (Applause.) Recitation, “ The men of Australia,” Miss Vlilins. This piece was rendered in excellent style, and showed the ability of Miss Vallins in a marked degree, drawing forth no ordinary amount of applause. Mr Brooks moved the “Old Colonists’ Association.” On account of the presence of the ladies he felt very bashful, and would be very brief (Laughter.) In 1851 he paid a visit to Ballarat, and he thought it was a great pity he ever left. He did a good deal of knocking about Black Hill in the days of the diggings. He left Ballarat with an ordinary match box three-parts full of gold. He had not done any gold mining since. He was particularly pleased to see that the Ballarat Association had the fair sex represented in the association. The strides that Ballarat had taken since the fifties were marvellous, and he hoped that the future progress would be equal to the past (Applause ) Mr Rogers, in seconding the toast, said it was a great pleasure to he amongst such a body of men, who sought to help those who were unable to help themselves. He was very thankful for the kindness shown to him by the people of Ballarat, and it would not be long before he would be on the roll of the Old Colonists’ Association. Violin solo, Miss Ince. Mr J. P Murray (the president) responded. It must be admitted, he said, that the association m Ballarat had learnt a great deal from the parent association in Melbourne. They numbered something like 900 members. The association was a purely philanthropic one, and was the very best with which he had ever been connected. He was proud of the building owned by them, and he was glad to say it was nearly paid for. The greatest object in life was to hold out the helping hand to the aged and infirm, the widow and the orphans. That, and that alone, was the object of the association, and he was encouraged to find that the whole of the members were working so well together in such a noble cause (Applause ] Mr Murray then spoke feelingly of the losses the association had sustained through the death of some of their most respected members, and asked the company to rise and silently drink to the memory of departed members. Mr Wright proposed “The City and Town Councils, coupled with the names of Mayors Shoppee and Dunn.” Song, with chorus, Mr Stalker. Cr Little responded. He expressed regret that the major of the City was absent. There was not much to be said now that the municipal elections were over. Had the dinner taken place prior to the election some good speeches would have been made (Laughter.) The council was greatly indebted to many of the old colonists, particularly Mr Jas. Oddie, and the late Mr F. M. Claxton and others The amalgamation of the City and Town was occupying their attention, and, if carried out, would make Ballarat one of the largest, and certainly one of the most important, cities in Australasia (Applause.) Cr M‘Donald also responded. He was pleased to be present at the celebration of the anniversary of the foundation of the association. (Applause). Cr Ivey said he was extremely pleased to be present as a councillor. In the future he would always be ready and willing to assist the association in every possible way, Mr Oddie moved “Kindred Associations.” In doing so he said that 40 years ago he was acquainted with a great many of the old identities. The position of the association was a unique one. When he was in England he told the people there that they knew absolutely nothing about living in a land without political or national organisation. They were unacquainted with the hardships of living among aborigines and establishing primitive schools and churches, but simply left the place as they found it Civilisation in the colonies was as forward as it was in England, although they had not the same public buildings and cathedrals. Our educational system was infinitely better than any thing they had in England, and young Australia ought to be thankful to the pioneers. Mr T. F. Hart, president of the City branch of the ANA, in responding, said that the idea that the natives wished to crush out the old identities was an erroneous one. (Applause.) Mr Richards, president of the Eastern branch, also responded. The toasts of “ The Ladies ” and “ The Press” having been honored, and a hearty vote of thanks accorded to the singers and reciters, the proceedings terminated with the singing of “Auld lang syne” Mr R. G. Claxton played the accompaniments throughout the evening.[24]

12 October 1891

In order to fulfill its objective of providing shelter for its members the Association needed to acquire some land. In 1891 it obtained 28 acres of land at Recreation Road, Mount Clear from the Government 'as a site for an asylum'.[25] This site for an asylum for indigent members of the Old Colonists' Association of Ballarat was not proceeded with, except for the erection of ornamental gates on the property. [26] Further negotiation resulted in the association procuring 7 acres in Alfredton, however the Ballarat Council wanted this land for their proposed abattoirs and in 1912 traded 10 acres of land at Perry Park in Gillies Street.[27]

10 December 1891

The Old Colonists' Association sold land in Channel Street for 167 pounds 10 shillings.[28]


..The land in Channel street belonging to the association was sold on the ICth December. 1891, and realised the sum of £167 10s. ... With respect of fencing the reserve at Mount Clear, tenders have been called for the work, and we recommend power be given to the council to accept, so that the work may' be commenced without delay.[29]


A sword, found at the Eureka Stockade, was presented to the Old Colonists' Association by Mr T. Ellis.[30]


2000 pounds was distributed to to needy members.[31]

At considerable expense the Old Colonists’ Association has had the interior of its well appointed and imposing looking hall painted and decorated in a remarkably chaste and artistic manner. The hall has always been regarded as one of the most convenient in the city, now its owners may safely call it the -'prettiest. The entrance hall has been beautified attractively. The ceiling is stencilled with the choicest designs and delicately lined with suitable colors. The walls are of a salmon green shade relieved with baskets of flowers suspended from the deep and elaborate frieze work. The pannelled dadoes are neatly stencilled and lined, and crowned by a rail of pretty design. The sides of the double staircase approaching the vestibule have been rendered particularly attractive by the introduction of minton tiles—quite a feature in modern decorations—which greatly enhances the general effect. The ceiling of the lantern light over the vestibule is neatly pannelled and lined. Representations of flowers fill the corners, and the centre is occupied by paintings of the busts of notable persons. The cove is of graded shades of buff and grey, while the trusses and cornices are picked out in a dozen harmonious tints, and the enrichments are heavily gilded. The walls are a greenish buff suitably lined and nicely supported by a snuff ored dado with rail to match. Between the memorial, donors', and officials’ slabs exceedingly effective landscapes have been introduced. The reading room is noticeable or its exceptional artistic beauty. Its disempered ceiling is handsomely set off with landscapes and representations of flowers and fruits of the most exquisite description. Its bold green walls, relieved with deep buff frieze work, give effect to the finely stencilled terracotta dado. Of the billiard room too much could hardly be said. The ceilings of soft buff broken with green and enhanced by pink styling and elegant floral adornments in itself a real work of art, and well worthy of the admiration bestowed upon it. The walls are of pale French grey, with light buff friezing boldly stencilled. Perhaps the most magnificent of all is the large general meeting room, the chief feature of which is the imitation drapery work in the elaborately panelled ceiling. This piece of work is undoubtedly the finest of its kind ever executed in Ballarat, It is as realistic as it is attractive, yet it is wondrously neat and refined. The colors blend to a degree. Nothing is overdone, and there is nought wanting. The floral and relied ornamentations throughout this room are quite in keeping with the drapery work and richly gilded centres. The bar, offices, ante rooms, and passages have been attended to. All the ceilings are distempered, the walls flaited, and the dadoes done in oils. Though this is by far the most difficult system, the effect is infinitely superior to work done in the ordinary way. The whole of the decorative work has been done by Mr G. Coulter for the contractor, Mr T. Kift.[32]

September 1895

A third billiard table was purchased secondhand for 25 pounds. The Billiard Room was relocated from the front room to its current location.[33]


The present veranda was added to the Old Colonists' Club Hall.[34]


As a result of a visit of the Hon. John Murray, Premier of Victoria, to Ballarat 12 months ago, the Old Colonists' Association secured the reservation of over seven acres of land at Alfredton, as a site for building of homes for indigent members, in lieu of the reserve at Mount Clear, which was doomed unsuitable.[35]


Further negotiation resulted in the association procuring 7 acres in Alfredton, however the Ballarat Council wanted this land for their proposed abattoirs and in 1912 traded 10 acres of land at Perry Park in Gillies Street. This site is now known as Charles Anderson Grove.[36]


The gates from Mount Clear were re-located to Charles Anderson Grove.[37]


The 'substantial' gates which had been erected at the Mount Clear site in 1891 were removed from the old site and erected at Perry Park. The minutes notes '... we trusted we would soon have some cottages for the old folk, especially of the Great War should soon be victoriously finished by us, which was the earnest hope of all.[38]

January 1924

The Old Colonists' Association received a generous offer from Mr and Mrs F.J. Williams, both natives of Ballarat, to build a cottage in the grounds of Perry Park (now Charles Anderson Grove.) This offer was quickly followed up by Old Colonists' Association Councillor S.W.J. Clark. Both offers were promptly and gratefully accepted. The first cottages were designed by Clegg and Morrow and built by H.B. Watt.[39]


The keys of the W.J. Clark home at Charles Anderson Grove, the gift of Sydney W.J. Clark; and the Williams Cottage, the gift of F.J. Williams, were handed over before a large crown including Mayor and Mayoress Nicholson and many prominent citizens.[40]


The Old Colonists' Club funded a cottage at Charles Anderson Grove. [41]


Funds from the estate of George Crombie of Allendale went towards a cottage at Charles Anderson Grove.[42]


BALLARAT, Wednesday. - Generous benefactions are contained in the will of the late Mr. Richard Mitchell, of Mair street, Ballarat, investor and sportsman, who died on July 23. The estate is valued at between £10,000 and £11,000. Of this amount £1,000 is to be divided between the Ballarat Hospital, Ballarat Benevolent Home, and Ballarat Orphanage. The sum ot £1,000 is to be devoted, under the control of the Ballarat Old Colonists, to the building of old colonists' homes in Perry Park, to be known as the "Richard Mitchell Homes." A sum of £2,000 is left to the children of George Thomas Hughes, of Kalgoorlie (W.A.). Testator provided £100 for the immediate needs of his widow, and set aside a substantial amount, the income of which is to be devoted to her use during her life. The widow also receives the house in Mair street. On the death of the widow the house is to be sold, the proceeds to be devoted to building more old colonists' homes in Perry Park. ...[43]


The Barker Home, a gift of Mr and Mrs Sep. J. Barker, was completed at Charles Anderson Grove.[44]


The Ballarat Old Colonists' Association has added the fifth cottage to its Gillies-street scheme. The cottage was handed over on Sunday afternoon by Mr. H. Shaw, chairman of the Ballarat Trustees, Executors and Agency Co. Ltd.[45]


Permewan Cottage was built at Charles Anderson Grove.


Early in 1965 two new pairs of single units were erected, chiefly as homes for widow and indigent single people. [46]


The Gas and Fuel, through the manager Mr J.H. Coventry, donated the huge metal chandelier, which now hangs in the foyer. It was fitted with electric lamps.[47]


Joe White Homes were built at Charles Anderson Grove.


Ian Rollo Currie Foundation Homes were built at Charles Anderson Grove.


The Old Colonists' Association purchased a block of units at 613 Ascot Street South, Ballarat comprising of four single and two double units. This was done with the generous financial support of the trustees of the estate of Lancelot W. Wilson.[48]


Women were admitted as members.


Mary Batten is elected President, the first woman in the position.[49]


The Old Colonists’ Association (OCA) is a philanthropic charitable organisation providing accommodation for elderly people. In the 1920s Charles Anderson Grove was established.Twenty seven homes were constructed in stages between 1923 and 1983, with each Independent Living Unit identified by a name plate referencing the benefactor. Accommodation is offered at significantly below market rates.

The OCA Council oversees the running of this facility on a voluntary basis. The OCA is a Public Benevolent Institution with the Australian Tax Office Deductible Gift Recipient Status.



Members of the Old Colonists' Association


Community Involvement

Works Produced


Medals were presented to :-


See also

G. Coulter

A.G. Legge

John Lynch


  1. Ballarat Star, 17 November 1888.
  2. Revised Rules of the Old Colonists' Association of Ballarat Inc., 2016.
  3. Ballarat Star, 30 August 1867.
  4. Brisbane Courier, 08 November 1867.
  5. The Argus, 13 August 1872.
  6. Old Colonists' Club Newsletter, June 2004.
  7. Ballarat Star, 05 June 1873.
  8. Ballarat Star, 12 June 1873.
  9. Ballarat Courier, 04 December 1874.
  10. Ballarat Star, 13 November 1888.
  11. Old Colonists' Club Newsletter, September 2004.
  12. Ballarat Star, 28 September 1883.
  13. http://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/67500#sthash.Nikyuunl.dpuf, accessed 08/04/2016.
  14. Ballarat Star, 27 August 1887.
  15. Ballarat Star, 26 September 1887.
  16. Abson, Phillip, The Old Colonist's Association of Ballarat: A Brief History.
  17. Old Colonists' Club Newsletter, September 2003.
  18. Horsham Times, 31 August 1888.
  19. Ballarat Star, 10 November 1888.
  20. Old Colonists' Club Newsletter, September 2003.
  21. Old Colonists' Club Newsletter, September 2003.
  22. Ballarat Star, 01 February 1890.
  23. Old Colonists' Club Newsletter, September 2003.
  24. Ballarat Star, 21 August 1891.
  25. Old Colonists' Club Newsletter, September 2003.
  26. Abson, Phillip, The Old Colonist's Association of Ballarat: A Brief History.
  27. Old Colonists' Club Newsletter, September 2003.
  28. Balarat Star, 02 February 1892.
  29. Ballarat Star, 04 February 1892.
  30. Abson, Phillip, The Old Colonist's Association of Ballarat: A Brief History.
  31. Old Colonists' Club Newsletter, September 2003.
  32. Ballarat Star, 09 May 1894.
  33. Old Colonists' Club Newsletter, September 2003.
  34. http://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/67500#sthash.Nikyuunl.dpuf, accessed 08/04/2016.
  35. Ballarat Star, 15 September 1910.
  36. Old Colonists' Club Newsletter, September 2003.
  37. Old Colonists' Club Newsletter, September 2003.
  38. Abson, Phillip, The Old Colonist's Association of Ballarat: A Brief History.
  39. Old Colonists' Club Newsletter, September 2003.
  40. Old Colonists' Club Newsletter, September 2003.
  41. Old Colonists' Club Newsletter, September 2003.
  42. Old Colonists' Club Newsletter, September 2003.
  43. The Argus, 08 August 1935.
  44. Old Colonists' Club Newsletter, September 2003.
  45. The Age, 28 November 1939.
  46. Abson, Phillip, The Old Colonist's Association of Ballarat: A Brief History.
  47. Abson, Phillip, The Old Colonist's Association of Ballarat: A Brief History.
  48. Old Colonists' Club Newsletter, September 2004.
  49. Old Colonists' Club Newsletter, September 2003.

External Links

Old Colonists' Association Homes in Charles Anderson Grove, off Gillies Street - http://www.ballarathistoricalsociety.com/collection/Records/Record522.81.htm


--Beth Kicinski 12:58, 3 January 2013 (EST); --Clare K.Gervasoni 22:31, 21 August 2016 (AEST)
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