Author: Elizabeth Denny
Sebastopol was a long, thin, little township, strung out along the gold mines between Buninyong in the south and Ballarat, the bustling town just over Rubicon Street, in the north. Shops and houses shared the township with mines and mullock heaps.
On 1 October 1864, the Borough of Sebastopol separated from Buninyong Shire. The first Borough council meetings were held in November that year. To mark this milestone, 150 years since its inception, we look back at the history of the town.
Step back in time in Sebastopol
In the twentieth century the borough provided a pool, a war memorial, an infant welfare centre and a kindergarten for its residents. Albert Street was a major shopping centre, with a Mechanics Institute and Free Library, but residents could also rattle into Ballarat on the tram for the theatre, botanical gardens and the art gallery.
With a only a small number of rate-payers the borough was often strapped for cash. In 1873, with rate revenue disappearing in front of his eyes, the Mayor instructed the Town Clerk to go out and count the miners’ cottages being lifted off their suburban blocks and carted away to towns with jobs. Many homes in Sebastopol were built on blocks for which they paid a yearly fee to the Mines Department. People often carted their houses away with them when they moved to another town.
Interesting records giving glimpses of everyday life in Sebastopol over the last two centuries include a register from the local Sebastopol court. Many of Sebastopol's residents came from mining districts in Cornwall and Wales with Welsh names common among the names of rate-payers, miners, and Borough councilors.
Finding records at Ballarat Archives Centre
The Ballarat Archives Centre holds a fascinating collection of Sebastopol records.
Records which reveal something of life in Sebastopol include a list of new books for the library in 1892 and a local court register of collectors and carriers. A complete list of Sebastopol records held at the Ballarat Archives Centre can be found under Borough of Sebastopol and Sebastopol Courts in the Public Record Office Victoria online catalogue.
Material in the Public Record Office Victoria archival collection contains words and descriptions that reflect attitudes and government policies at different times which may be insensitive and upsetting
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