Local History

 The Benalla Costume and Kelly Museum houses a significant collection of documents, photographs, and artefacts of historical interest related to Benalla and District.

The Historical Society also has a ‘Research Room’  located in the Museum building in Mair Street, Benalla, in which early Benalla newspapers, books, documents, and pictures are stored.

The Research Room is open to the public for research purposes on Wednesdays from 12.30 to 3.30pm throughout the year for those who may wish to explore the annals of Benalla’s History.

Our history

An expedition in 1836 led by Major Mitchell marked the Crossing Place of a swampy river later named the Broken River.

An event known as the Faithfull Massacre of 1838 took place, when seven members of the Faithful brothers overland droving party were killed by natives at the Crossing Place.

As a result, a Police Post known as the Broken River Border Police Station was established to safeguard travellers.

The Black Swan Inn was built in 1840 and settlement commenced in the Arundel/Kent St. area, then east of the river after a bridge was built in 1847.

The township was named Benalla in 1849.

The servicing of Ovens goldfield traffic stimulated development in the 1850s when, as well as dwellings, hotels, shops, churches and schools were built.

1861        Benalla officially proclaimed a town; the population consisted of 317 males and 240 females.

1866       Colonial Bank opened a branch in the Benalla Hotel.

1868       First edition of the North Eastern Ensign, now Benalla Ensign published on October 30th.

Construction of a timber bridge adjacent to the current site.

1869       Benalla Road Board became the Shire Council.

1870       A Mechanics Institute opened a building now part of the Museum in Mair Street.

1873       Melbourne to Albury railway line reached Benalla.

1874       A new high level trestle bridge built to replace the 1868 bridge, damaged by floods.

1877       Ned Kelly attended Benalla Courthouse charged with a number of minor offences.

1878       Benalla Agricultural and Pastoral Society held its first show.

1880       After the siege at Glenrowan, 24km north of Benalla, Ned Kelly was captured and brought to the Benalla Police Station,  the next day taken by train to Melbourne.

1883       Municipal Chamber and Hall built in Nunn Street, with portico and extensions in 1929.

Water Trust formed and water piped to buildings in the town.

1887       Benalla Gardens established on its present site.

1900       FCJ Convent School commenced.

1908       First car purchased by a Benalla resident.

1910       A concrete bridge, built by the Monier Pipe and Concrete Construction Co., with structural design by John Monash,  replaced the 1874 trestle bridge.

1912       Benalla Higher Elementary School commenced, in 1916 became Benalla High School at present Barkly St. site.

1924       State Electricity Commission established power supply to Benalla.

1928       Local members of the Port Melbourne Flying Club constructed a small aerodrome.

1934       Benalla Sewerage Authority constituted.

1935       Benalla Bush Nursing Hospital opened, in 1953 became Benalla and District Memorial Hospital.

1940       Concrete bridge, built in 1910 widened and another footpath added by the Country Roads Board.                .

RAAF took over the aerodrome, enlarged and developed; it became the No. 11 Elementary Flying School.

1945       Benalla water supply secured with completion of the Loombah Weir on Upper Ryan’s Creek.

1948       Benalla Shire Central Riding became Borough of Benalla.

1949       RAAF accommodation at the aerodrome became a European migrant holding centre, this closed in 1969.

1954       Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh visited Benalla.

1959       The first rose garden in the Benalla Gardens established by Apex Club of Benalla.

1961       Benalla Auto Club conducted the first race meeting at a new circuit it constructed at Winton – now Winton Raceway.

1965       City of Benalla proclaimed. By now the population had reached 8,500.

1973       Lake Benalla created. Benalla Regional Art Gallery built on its shores in 1975.

1987       Hume Freeway bypassed Benalla.

1993       Benalla suffered its most severe flood; other major floods recorded were in 1870, 1916, 1918, 1921.

1994       As part of compulsory State Government shire amalgamations, Benalla City, Benalla Shire and Mansfield Shire,  combined to form the Shire of Delatite.

1996       Prime Minister of Australia, Mr John Howard, unveiled the “Weary” Dunlop Memorial.

1997       Aquatic Centre indoor facility opened, complementing the 1960 outdoor pools.

1998       Benalla Campus of Goulburn Ovens Institute of TAFE opened.

2002       De-amalgamation of Benalla and Mansfield from the Shire of Delatite.  Benalla Rural City proclaimed.

2004       Benalla Performing Arts and Conference Centre opened.

2010       Ceramic mural opened.  A community arts project that commenced in 1985.

For the Centenary celebration of the bridge, it was named – Benalla Monash Bridge.

2011       Benalla Lakeside Community Centre completed and opened

2013       Merger of all Benalla Government schools to form Benalla P-12 College

2015       Sir Edward Dunlop Learning Centre (Library) opened

Extracts compiled by John Hanlon on behalf of Benalla Historical Society Inc.

Benalla Post office Trestle bridge across Broken River
Holy Trinity Church of England Railway Station
State School No.2256 – Benalla East 1913 Snow – Nunn Street
Bridge Street 1906 Benalla Show Grounds in flood

Special Project: History of Homes and Other Buildings in Benalla 

The aim of the History of Benalla Homes and other Buildings project is to have a property database available as a searchable history of as many buildings in Benalla and the surrounding area as possible. The task is huge and any help would be greatly appreciated.

To assist us in data collection and to register a home and/or building, click here to download a blank form to complete and return to the Historical Society.