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Buninyong, 1862. Federation University Historical Collection (Cat. No. 18400)
Buninyong Gold Discovery Obelisk, 1923, Federation University Historical Collection (Cat. No. 1603)

Buninyong is named after Mount Buninyong, an ancient volcano adjoining the borough. [1] It is a Wathawurrong (the local Aboriginal clan) term signifying a hill shaped like a man's knee. [2]



The precinct of Buninyong has a strong pastoral and gold mining history and remains a township with a proud heritage and many architecturally and historically significant important buildings. Buninyong was already a small village, and had been surveyed, when gold was discovered in 1851. The survey encouraged systematic development and many public buildings were erected in the 1850s. Early directories list many small business such as breweries, steam saw mill, tanneries, flour mills as well as alluvial and quartz mining works. Some buildings such as Thomas Shepherd's brewery were built in bluestone while others were more modest timber structures.

Gold was discovered first at Buninyong by Thomas Hiscock in 1851 but Buninyong was already a small village, situated on Learmonth land. The first survey (1848/9) followed by the first land sales in May 1851 encouraged systematic development and many public buildings were erected in the early 1850s. Early directories list many small business such as breweries, steam saw mill, tanneries, flour mills as well as both alluvial and quartz mining. The major churches, Presbyterian, Church of England, Methodist and Catholic built in favourite Gothic styles, usually of brick or stone for permanence. In the second half of the 19C, a building boom brought a number of major public buildings such as the Post Office, Police Quarters, Town Hall and Courthouse to completion. The Buninyong Gardens with Public Bath, Bowling Greens and Tennis Courts were also completed about this time and quickly became the social focus of the township.[3]

In 1876 a serious fire destroyed 15 shops, businesses and dwellings:

Great Fire at Buninyong
After over twenty years of almost entire immunity front the ravages of fire, the ancient village of Buninyong received a visit from the destroyer on Saturday, which has created such a shock in that quiet hamlet as it has never before experienced. The fire originated (says the Evening Post) in Harris's ironmonger's shop, in which an explosion of kerosene or powder soon took place. Spreading east and west with fearful rapidity, the flames soon enwrapped almost the whole block - extending from Mr. Greaves' drapery establishment on the went to Mr. Sleemnan's bakery on the east, every shop and dwelling being completely destroyed and the contents consumed, save the furniture of Mr Sleeman, which was rescued from the flames. The following properties were destroyed, beginning at the western side: - Greaves, draper empty dwellinghouse; Taylor, barber; Daley, baker; Bradshaw, butcher and general store; Harris, ironmonger, furniture dealer and cabinet maker; three empty houses William Caffrey, blacksmith and dwelling house; and Sleeman, baker; making fifteen buildings in all for some of the businesses extended over more than one shop. The value of the property destroyed is estimated at £8,000 or £9,000. A large portion of this loss is covered by insurance. So great a loss has rarely been felt in this district; never, in fact, since the days of the "great fires".[4]

In 1878 the Borough of Buninyong boasted a population of 1450, with 429 ratepayers on the roll. [5] In that year it was described as a mining, agricultural and manufacturing township, with telegraph, money order and savings bank offices. It was known for its exceptional healthiness. [6]

22 January 1895
A company with a capital of £10,000 has been formed at Buninyong for the purpose of freezing and exporting all kinds of farm produce. All the leading men in the district are interested in the affair.

The electricity supplied was connected to Buninyong in 1936.[8]

Municipal Facts

09 July 1858 - created a district

16 February 1864 - Proclaimed a Shire

15 April 1859 - proclaimed a borough. [9]

01 October 1915 - amalgamated with the Shire of Buninyong. [10]

BUNINYONG, Saturday.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the proclamation of the borough of Buninyong, the mayor (Councillor David Kerr) invited a large and representative gathering to a banquet in the council-chambers. Parliament was represented by Messrs. J. M'Donald and F Brawn, - M.L.C.-, and Mr. M'Grath, M.L.A. Ballarat was represented by its, mayor (Councillor Pearse) and Councillor Levy; and about 50 other gentlemen of the various commercial, legal, and mining interests of the district. Of the original 174 residents who signed the petition for Buninyong to be raised to the dignity of a borough, only four are alive, and one of them, Mr. John Thomas, was present. An apology was received from the Prime Minister (Mr. Deakin), regretting his inability to attend.

The mayor of Ballarat City (Councillor Pearse) proposed "The Jubilee" of Buninyong, coupled with the name of the mayor.

The mayor responded, and stated that Buninyong was one of the oldest and best known townships of the early days. There was a store and blacksmith's shop as early as 1851. The store was kept by Mr. Creswick, after whom the town of Creswick was named. Gold was discovered in Buninyong in 1851, by Hiscock, and later a large influx of population took place, but even before that Sales of land took place in the township, which brought £500 per acre, and another block a little larger brought, £1,000.

The latter block was recently sold for £15.

He has been in Buninyong since 1854 and a councillor for over 32 years. (Hear, hear.)

The mayor of Ballarat Town (Councillor Levy) proposed "The Borough Council," to which Councillors J. V. Wilson and Sleeman responded.

Councillor J. Ogilvie proposed "The Old Pioneers."

Mr. J. S. Thomas responded. He was with Hiscock when he found the first gold, and, having served his time, with a goldsmith in London, he improvised a retort.

They took the gold to Geelong, and sold it. This was the first sale of gold in Victoria. There was about 2½oz.'

The gathering ended with the singing of "Auld Lang Syne."

Buninyong Road Board Chairmen (1858-1862)

The Buninyong Roads Board was established in 1959.[12]

In the elections Buninyong Road Board elections of 1862 Archibald Fisken, George Innes, Selkirk and Robert Lamb were returned.[13]

Robert Lamb, c1865, Federation University Historical Collection, Keith Rash Estate. (Cat. No. 4764)
# Chairman Term
Archibald Fisken 1859-1861
Dr Charles Kenworthy 1861–1862
John Flockhart 1862
Archibald Fisken 1862-1865

Buninyong Municipality

# Chairman Term
Thomas Shepherd 1859-1863

Borough of Buninyong Mayors (1863–1915)

# Mayor Term
Peter Hedrick 1863–1865
John Bishop 1865–1868
W. Saunders 1868-1870+
Robert Allan 1870–1875
A. Walker 1875–1876
Andrew Charles Davies 1876-1878
William Augustus Sparling 1878–1879
Peter Fowler 1879-1881
Edmund Wren 1881-1882
Peter Fowler 1882-1883
Henry Mander Greaves 1883-1884
David Mortimer Davies 1884-1887
John Milner 1887–1888
Peter Hedrick 1888–1889
William Whykes 1889–1890
David Kerr 1890–1891
John Peter Wilson 1891–1892
Henry Mander Greaves 1892–1893
William Whykes 1894–1895
Thomas Caffrey 1895–1896
David Kerr 1896-1897
Robert Graham 1897–1898
John Peter Wilson 1898–1899
Henry Mander Greaves 1899–1900
Daniel Phelan 1900–1901
Arthur Henry Coxall 1901–1902
David Kerr 1902–1903
John Peter Wilson 1903–1904
James Howard 1904–1905
Warren Speak 1905–1906
Harry Foster Sleeman 1906–1907
William Henry Noack 1907–1908
David Kerr 1908–1910
John Ogilvie 1910-1911
Daniel Phelan 1910-1911
Warren Speak 1912–1913
Ernest Maxwell Tonkin 1913–1914

Shire of Buninyong Presidents (1864– )

# Presidents Term
Archibald Fisken 1864–1865
W.H. Bacchus 1865–1866
Robert Lamb 1866–1868
George A. Hale 1868-1869
Charles Cooper Scorer 1869–1871
Archibald Fisken 1871–1876
J.P. Howard 1876-1877
Archibald Fisken 1877-1878
A. McLennan 1878–1880
R. McLennan 1880-1881
Donald McKay 1881-1883
Richard Hall 1883-1884
F.H. Ingle 1884-1885
James Leckie 1885-1886
John Greene 1886–1888
Kenneth Gillanders 1888–1889
Frederick Edward Sides 1889–1890
James Leckie 1890–1891
Simon Greene 1891–1892
Patrick William Torpy 1892–1893
George Way 1894–1895
James Davies 1895–1896
Frederick Edward Sides 1896-1897
Archibald James Fisken 1897–1898
George Frederick Holden 1898–1899
Herbert Arthur Austin 1899–1901
William Kenna 1901–1902
Arthur John Forbes 1902–1903
George Eason 1903–1904
Robert Renkin 1904–1905
Jonathan Bray (1) 1905–1906
Archibald James Fisken 1906–1907
James Davies 1907–1908
George Way 1908–1910
Francis Joseph McGuigan 1909-1910
James Joseph Coglan 1910-1911
George Eason 1910-1911
Richard Harding Odgers 1912–1913
Jonathan Bray (1) 1913–1914
William Benjamin Clark 1914–1915
Archibald James Fisken 1915–1917
Ernest Edward Tonkin 1917–1918
George Eason 1918–1919
Richard Harding Odgers 1919–1920
Patrick McGuane 1920–1921
Archibald James Fisken 1921-1922
Albert Lumsden 1922-1923
George William Turner 1923-1924
Donald McKay (1) 1924-1925
Patrick John Maloney 1925-1926
Abraham Shearer 1926-1927
Alexander Hunter 1927-1928
Cyril Claude Austin 1928-1929
Richard Harding Odgers 1929-1930
John Jackson Downey 1930-1931
Archibald Clyde Wanliss Fisken 1931-1932
John Charles Hitchcock 1932-1933
Edward Albert Hitchcock 1933-1934
Oliver James Sykes 1934-1935
Patrick Joseph Ryan 1935-1936
Abraham Shearer 1936-1938
William Albert Brown 1938-1939
Cyril Claude Austin 1939-1940
William James Watson 1940-1941
Patrick John Moloney 1941-1942
Abraham Shearer 1942-1944
Edward Albert Hitchcock 1944-1945
John Wesley Sobey 1945-1946
Archibald Clyde Wanliss Fisken 1946-1947
William Albert Brown 1947-1948
Henry Robert Huggins 1948-1949
John Wesley Sobey 1949-1950
Patrick John Maloney 1950-1951
Wilfred Bennetts Harbour 1951-1952
William James Neagle 1952-1953
Henry Robert Huggins 1953-1954
John Richard Lightfoot 1954-1955
Joseph Patrick Toohey 1955-1956
Alfred Arthur Davis 1956-1957
Archibald Clyde Wanliss Fisken 1957-1958
Clarence Gordon Smith 1958-1959
John Chatham 1959-1960
Richard Vincent 1960-1961
Edward Joseph Hanrahan 1961-1962
Donald Lloyd Coxall 1962-1963
William Gordon Turner 1963-1964
John Wesley Sobey 191964-1965
Kevin Patrick Glenane 1965-1966
Archibald Clyde Wanliss Fisken 1966-1967
Alan Percival Turner 1967-1968
Henry Robert Huggins 1968-1969
Roy Grainge Biggs 1969-1970
Joseph Patrick Toohey 1970-1971
Alan Thomas Harbour 1971-1972
John William McManus 1972-1973
Henry Edward Hitchcock 1973-1974
John Anthony Parkin 1974-1975
Archibald John Fisken 1975-1976
James Thomas Mahoney 1976-1977
Donald George Slater 1977-1978
John William McManus 1978-1979
Kenneth George Calvert 1978-1979
Leo Patrick Murphy 1979-1980
Alan Thomas Harbour 1980-1981
Frederick Bryan Leather 1981-1982
Henry Edward Hitchcock 1982-1983
Kevin William McManus 1983-1984
[[]] 1984-1985
[[]] 1985-1986
[[]] 1986-1987
[[]] 1987-1988
Judith F. Coull 1989

The People

See also

Mining in Buninyong - Mining companies in Buninyong - Mining gullies in Buninyong - Mining gutters in Buninyong - Mining leads in Buninyong - Mining reefs in Buninyong

Buninyong Railway Line


Buninyong Roll of Honour

Mount Buninyong




Box Factory

Buninyong Butter Factory

Buninyong Bakery

Buninyong Saw-Mills

Davies and Graham's Tannery


Andrew Charles Davies, tanner (<1887>)

Buninyong Fire Brigade

Graham Davies & Co., tanners (<1887>)

Thomas Fasham, blacksmith (<1858>)

George Glenister, coachbuilder (<1868>)

Samuel Goode, printer (<1887>)

William Graham, currier (<1887>)

James Holmes, baker, (<1858>)

Henry Mander Greaves, draper (<1887>)

J. Higgins, draper (<1887>)

Thomas Jackson, blacksmith (<1858>)

J. Kelsall, soap and candle maker (<1887>)

J. J. Kelsall, tanner (<1887>)

Jno. Kelsall Sr., tanner (<1887>)

David Kerr – Kerr’s Jams

John Kirby, baker (<1858>)

W. B. Lucke – Blacksmith and Wheelwright – ploughs on display in old Butter Factory

James Murdoch, baker (<1858>)

Robert Mutch, blacksmith (<1858>)

Ralph Parsons, baker and pastrycook (<1887>)

Rowbottom and Co., baker (<1858>)

William Sayers, cooper (<1858>)

Thomas Shepherd, brewer (<1858>)

John Thomas, tanner (<1887>)

Andrew Walker, tanner (<1887>)

J. Wood, draper (<1887>)


  1. Victorian Municipal Directory, 1878.
  2. Courier Supplement, 10 June 1967.
  3. City of Ballarat Heritage Study (Stage 2) April 2003: Thematic History, p.A1
  4. 1876 'GREAT FIRE AT BUNINYONG.', Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), 10 November, p. 3 Edition: EVENINGS., viewed 20 September, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63336842
  5. Victorian Municipal Directory, 1878.
  6. Victorian Municipal Directory, 1878.
  7. The North Eastern Ensign (Benalla, VIC. : 1872 - 1938), Tuesday 22 January 1895, page 2. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71552711
  8. Courier Supplement, 10 June 1967.
  9. Victorian Municipal Directory, 1878.
  10. Courier Supplement, 10 June 1967.
  11. The Argus, 21 June 1909.
  12. Shire of Buninyong: 1858-1983.
  13. Griffiths, Tom, Three Times Blest, Buninyong Historical Society, 1988.

External Links

--Beth Kicinski 11:10, 16 July 2012 (EST); --Sallyanne Doyle 20:27, 21 February 2013 (EST); --C.K.Gervasoni 12:05, 4 March 2014 (EST)

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