History of Bulla Victoria Australia Published 1910

A prize winning essay by Frank Cleary on the history of Bulla, Victoria, Australia published in 1910 in the Sunbury News..

Glenara Bulla Victoria built in 1857

This is the essay which won the second prize at the Bulla Horticultural Show in 1910 and was written by Frank Cleary and published in the Sunbury News Aug 6 1910:


Bulla is a pretty little village, situated on the banks of a clear stream called Deep Creek. In the year 1850 there were very few houses in Bulla- mostly all tents. A police station was opposite Mr Hillary’s house. The constable Mr Talty, was very clever with a sword. Where Mr Honan is living now was known as the “Trooper’s Bend”, as the police horses used to graze on it.

There was a pound yard on the main road. The first poundkeeper, Mr Gilbert, was the father of John Gilbert, the bushranger. The first blacksmiths and wheelwrights were Campbell and Stewart, who had their dwelling and shop in Trap-street, where Mr Allen now resides.

The price of cutting a tyre was 1 pound and for mending a bullock yoke 5 shillings. Mr Stewart removed to Lancefield, and Mr Hall started business in his place. There was one hotel, the Deep Creek Inn, owned by Tulip Wright; he was owner of much land. In the early days he had a boat, and when the creek was too high to cross otherwise, he rowed people across for 5 shillings each way. He also held church service on part of his premises before the church was built. In 1850 the Church of England was built. Mrs Green gave the land. In the following year the Presbyterian Church was built. The first school was on the main road. It was opened in the year 1854. The teacher was a Mr Lazarus. The second school was in Trap-street. The third move was opposite the Deep Creek Inn. First taught by Mr Lazarus, then Miss Thorpe, Mr Freeman, Mrs Cox, Mr Cassidy and Mr Saunders, in succession. The present school was built in 1871, and in the year 1877 the old school was burned down.

In the year 1850 a post office and store were opened in Trap-street by Messrs Smith and Duff. Mr Smith was a son-in-law of Tulip Wright. Mr Bethell had the first contract for the carrying of the mails, and he afterwards bought the store and post office from Mr Smith.

The first newspaper to Bulla was the “Argus”. The price was sixpence.

The Kaolin works were in full swing for many years(in the end of the ’50’s and early in the ’60’s) and over 40 men were employed. In March, 1860,a flood destroyed the works for a time; but they started again in 1868. For many miles around the district it was a great wheat-growing country. Men were employed in cutting the crops with scythes and reaphooks. They used long handle rakes to rake up the crop. My grandfather, Mr O’Brien, reaped and cradled oats on Mr Dicken’s Coldingham Lodge farm (owner), and occupied by the Dickens family for over half a century. There was one butcher, Mr.Dean. He had a slaughter yard on his property. He was a famous shot. He was known to shoot a bullock over his shoulder while his horse was galloping with a bullock giving chase.

Bulla is a very hilly country in parts. The cutting on the Bulla hill was made in the year 1862. Mr Falvy was the contractor. Previous to that the bullock teams crossed the hill where the quarry now is, then known as the “Gluepot Hill”, from the many teams stuck in crossing.

Another short lived industry was the flour mill, which worked for a few years, but closed in 1861. It was built by Mr Hunter and the miller was Mr Straughan. The ruins of the mill still stand by the creek in Lockton.

The first council meeting was held in the Deep Creek Inn in the year 1862. The first secretary was Mr Sutherland; then Mr Harris, who absconded with about 500 pounds of the council’s money; next Mr Daniel, Mr Lethbridge and our present secretary, Mr Daniel. In the year 1868 the Bulla Shire Hall was built. In 1868 and 1869 the Bulla bridge was made of blue stone taken from the Bulla quarry. Also the Shire Hall and many other buildings.

There were only two blacks in Bulla- Jimmy and Jenny. There was also a family of half casts, called the Brigs.

The first bootmaker was a Mr McDonald.

Bulla was once famous for goats. A crossing is still known as “The Goats”.

The beauty spot of Bulla is “Glenara”, the residence of Alister Clark Esq., with its beautifully laid out gardens and flowers. “Glenara” has been the residence of the Clarke family for more than half a century.

In the early ’50’s a gold mine was struck on Mr Batty’s Red Stone Hill farm. There has been a good yield of gold taken from it, and it is still working.

To the east of Bulla,from Lockton to the Inverness Hotel, was all a forest of trees. In later years it was selected and cut up for farming purposes.

A big flood occurred in the year 1870, and washed away the Wildwood bridge. The Catholic church was built in 1876. There have been a good many people drowned in the Deep Creek.

An omnibus used to run from Bulla to Melbourne. The fare was 5 shillings, and in after years a cab took the place of the bus. Bulla was a flourishing township before the railway to Bendigo was opened, the bullock waggons carting from Melbourne to Bendigo passing through it. Previous to the stone bridge there was a wooden bridge, and before that was built the bullock teams used to cross by a ford. Mobs of wild cattle used to pass through on their way to Melbourne.

Brick works were started in 1877, as Mr Gillies had promised a railway, and 18,000 bricks were made. Carting was too dear to continue, and as there was no railway, the bricks were carted away in the following year to the chemical works, and thus another chance for the township to rise again was lost.

Many people were buried in the township -some close to the creek and others close to Trap-street- before the present cemetery was made. There was a small one opposite the Deep Creek Inn which had to be closed when  the road was getting made.

The Burke and Wills’ party passed through Bulla on their way to Cooper’s Creek.

Native cats and opossums were plentiful some years ago. There were more fish in the Deep Creek then than at the present time. The Recreation Hall was built a few years ago. The industry of Bulla at present is farming and dairying.

On the creek just below where the present school is situated is a swinging bridge which has often been wrecked by floods. There have been many floods in the Deep Creek, but the highest was in December, 1906.”

Author: Kathleen

I have done an Ancestry DNA test and also have uploaded my test results to GedMatch. My GedMatch kit numbers are A029138 and T470174. Please contact me if we are a match. kathleenmfanningAThotmailDOTcom

15 thoughts on “History of Bulla Victoria Australia Published 1910”

  1. This site is most interesting for me, as contextual information like this bringsthe historical aspects of small towns to life. I am the biographer of the late Brigadier Sir Lindsay Tasman Ride, Victorian Rhodes Scholar 1922, Professor of Physiology at the University of Hong Kong and from 1949 its Vice Chancellor. Sir Lindsay’s father was the Rev. William Ride, the Presbyterian Minister at Bulla and it was from here that young Lindsay Ride went off to war in Europe in 1917, as a boy of 18, straight from school. Later, he had a distinguished (and secret) career during the second world war in China as the commanding officer of British Intelligence MI9/19, called the BAAG to conceal its covert function.

  2. The youngster’s history has obviously been sourced by historians such as I.W.Symonds. It is very good but does contain an error or two. The Church of England was built in 1858 if I remember correctly. It was Mrs Ann GreenE who was responsible for its construction at the south west corner of the Greenes’ “Woodlands.” The church was relocated to the present site, with Government funding, by W.V.(Major)Murphy in the 1970’s. (See website of St Paul’s, Broadmeadows and St Mary’s, Bulla.)
    The diagonal section of Somerton Rd, heading towards Lochton, was named after the Greene’s (as was Rawdon St) but appeared in Melway as GREEN.

    1. Thanks again Ray for the corrections and additional info. There is another prize winning essay on the History of Bulla which I haven’t as yet been able to get a copy of, which might interest you, if you have the time to search for it . It was by O. Daniel and published in April 1910, also in The Sunbury News.

  3. The National Library of Australia has this article digitised, and online at:

    I think, from looking at their copy, your missing words are:
    There was a small one opposite the Deep Creek Inn which had to be closed when the road was getting made.

    Native cats and opossums were plentiful some years ago.

    The Recreation Hall was built a few years ago. The industry of Bulla at present is farming and dairying.

    On the creek just below where the present school is situated is a swinging bridge which has often been wrecked by floods. There have been many floods in the Deep Creek…

    Hope that helps! Thank-you for posting your transcription online.

    1. I just started looking for this one when I saw your second comment. I have been trying to get this essay for ages. thanks.will put it in my blog.

  4. Thanks for this fantastic information. I am a descendent of John Gilbert Dickins, and my family lived in Coldingham lodge (named after a property of the same name in England) before moving on to Ouyen and then Sydney. I have photos of the people, but also 2-3 photos of them standing outside Coldingham lodge should you be interested I would be happy to forward them to you via email.

    1. Hi Brad,
      I would love to include your photos or some of them showing Coldingham Lodge in my blog, with your permission. My email address is kathleenmfanningAThotmailDOTcom.

      1. My family were the burke family that were mostly born in bulla in 1800s I have people from around 1880 that were born in bulla. Wondering if there could be a link to this history

        1. Hi Paul,
          Off hand, I don’t know of any connection between my Fanning family from Bulla and your Burke family. regards Kathleen Fanning

  5. I have been sent the link to your website and have found it very interesting as my ancestors had lived at Bulla for more than ten years. They were Evan and Isabella McDonald. Evan was a bootmaker by trade and your story mentions the first bootmaker in Bulla was a Mr McDonald? They came from Inverness in Scotland and moved to Bulla in 1856. Four of their children were born at Bulla , then in about 1867 they moved to Heathcote.
    I have been researching this family, but I dont know much about those early years in Bulla.
    We still have the shoemaking tools that Evan would have brought out from Scotland with him. Thanks for this information

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