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Clare Courthouse

Clare Courthouse: a Local and Magistrates Court in the Clare Valley, South Australia


If you have landed here looking to contact the Court please see the Court Sitting Locations of the SA Courts Administration Authority here for information.

The Clare Courthouse sits on the traditional lands of the Ngadjuri people and Kaurna people.

Clare Courthouse, early Australian courthouses, old Australian courthouses
Clare Courthouse, c1878, South Australia

Clare Courthouse c1878, South Australia

The Courthouse building was constructed in 1878 and occupied in 1880.  It has been in continuous use since that time although there have renovations and additions.

The first Courthouse and police station in Clare was built in 1850 and is located outside the town centre.  It has been classified by the National Trust and is now used as a museum.

Use of the Clare Courthouse in 1854 – no facilities for the police
The Courthouse building “has been devoted, in whole or in part to the use of the police for a mess-room, a circumstance which appears to have given some umbrage to the Magistrates and the District Council.” :  the South Australian Register, April 1854.


Courthouse stables SA

Clare Courthouse foundation stone

The ceremony of laying the foundation stone was performed in 1863 by the owner of the quarry who allowed the use of his quarry for the quoins of the building, which “are of a beautiful white sandstone.” The South Australian Weekly Chronicle, February 1863

 The usual preparations having been made, Mr Hope proceeded first to deposit a bottle in a cavity prepared for the purpose, containing two of the newspapers of the province, and a parchment scroll beautifully engrossed by the ..postmaster, together with a silver coin of the period.

Inscribed on the stone was, among other words:

 May justice, impartial decision, and the laws of our country be ever faithfully administered herein. God save the Queen!

The Courthouse as a polling station:

The Legislative Council Elections on April 1881 took place in the Clare Courthouse.  The Northern Argus reported that “At 8 o’clock on Wednesday morning the door of the Clare Courthouse was thrown open for the day, that building being converted into a voting place.”

 Plaque, Clare Courthouse, South Australia

At another time disrepair was reported in October 1890, again from the Northern Argus where the correspondent wrote:

It is about time that the Government got the ceiling of the Clare Courthouse patched up.

A snippet from “Northern Jottings” by an “Idler” in 1878 to the Northern Argus:

I looked in the Clare Courthouse during the sitting of the Licensing Bench, and was surprised to hear from the lips of the Inspector of Police that there was a deal of sly grog-selling in the North. That information was elicited while he was opposing the granting of a wine license. …Selling grog on the quiet should be stamped out..”

Side entry of the bluestone building


Travelling magistrates on court circuits

From the 1860s and more so from the 1880s magistrates residing in Clare travelled further afield in the administration of justice as the country developed.  One such place was Port Augusta where a building for a courthouse was eventually constructed in 1884.   Around this time a new courthouse was also built at Port Adelaide.


B Stead
BHS Legal
28 September 2013, updated 2021.

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