|At the age of 27 Scotsman, Archibald Campbell
McDougall arrived in the district in 1845, with an Aboriginal guide and
a mob of sheep and camped out on the present site of the Courthouse. Eventually
building his homestead in present day Goldsborough, he named the area
after Dunolly in Scotland, as the surrounding hills reminded him of the
Highlands at home. By 1852 the diggings had begun and McDougalls' run
proved to be the centre of the richest alluvial gold in the state. It
was soon overrun by thousands of diggers, a village grew up around his
house and gold worked at his very door.
The township of Dunolly moved location five times in a four year period, starting out at Goldsborough, moving along the Burnt Creek till its present position became permanent with the Great Rush of 1856, along the Old Lead. The population was at least 35,000 and the Broadway was 1.5kms of canvas tents and log huts supplying every kind of merchandise and entertainment imaginable.
It was said 'that the wild streams of diggers rushing to Dunolly more resembled terrorised beings fleeing from a plague than men on their way to a fortune'. Half the gold towns in Victoria were deserted, and theatres, concert halls, hotels and stores were hastily loaded onto drays as they raced to the new El Dorado. Diggers arrived all hours day and night hoping to find a spot along the 6.1kms diggings going from the Old Lead Reservoir all the way into the Broadway. So enthusiastic were the diggers and so good the rewards, they had soon dug up part of the Broadway itself. Never was there such a lively rush, 'there was no such thing as a store keeper sleeping at night, or if he did he must expect his place cut open', as stores being held up by the likes of bushranger 'Little Dick' were a nightly occurrence. Entertainment in Dunolly ranged from Shakespearean Theatre Companies to Dancing Saloons playing out of tune music and bawling out songs of questionable morality.
However the rush soon came to an end and by 18 the population had plummeted to a mere 400. Those families that remained worked hard to build up a farming community that boasted the largest silo in the Southern Hemisphere, covering an area of 4 hectares. Although the silo no longer stands, Dunolly continues to be a strong community built on the mixed interests of farming, gold, timber and tourism.