Building tours explore town’s past

January 29, 2022 BY

History: Tours of the Bendigo Town Hall and Sandhurst Gaol are being conducted by local guides every week. Photo: KATIE MARTIN

FUGITIVES rounding up local high school teachers and other outlandish stories are just some of the snippets of Bendigo’s history you’ll hear at weekly tours of the former Sandhurst Gaol and Town Hall.

Run by local guides, the tours offer a personal touch and access to the town’s past, according to Jemma Docherty, visitor services manager with the City of Greater Bendigo.

“For a lot of our visitors, it’s that excitement of being able to go into a building that’s not usually accessible otherwise,” she said.

“One of our tour guides was a teacher at a school so he regularly was close by to Sandhurst Gaol – when it was a gaol – and has some really personal stories.

“One that comes to mind was about the teachers all getting cordoned off by a couple of fugitives, I think the story goes.

“There are some really personal stories that they can add to the general narrative and points of history that are covered in all the tours.”

Ms Docherty said it was these anecdotes that kept visitors coming back to the tours, with each guide recounting new and different stories.

Tours of the gold lined, 19th century Town Hall are conducted every Tuesday and Sunday from 11am, and patrons can wander the old gaol, now Ulumbarra Theatre, from 2pm on Tuesdays.

There’s also a chance for people to add their own personal or family history to the journeys.

“There’s a lot of visitors who also come who have their own ties to Bendigo and the way we run the tour, they have the opportunity to add ‘my mum or dad used to work at the gaol’ or ‘my mum or dad was part of council all those years ago’,” Ms Docherty said.

“It does make for this really interactive, special experience.”

Bookings for both tours can be made on the Bendigo Region website.