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Gundagai Courthouse c1861, New South Wales

Please note that the Gundagai Courthouse is a working courthouse.  If you have landed here looking to contact the Court please find the details of the Gundagai Local Court here.


Gundagai Courthouse, early Australian courthouses, old Australian courthouses, colonial Australian courthouses, Australian legal history,
Gundagai 1859, NSW

Above: the Gundagai Courthouse, New South Wales.

Gundagai is a country town in New South Wales on the Murrumbidgee River, a major tributary of the River Murray.   The traditional owners of the land are the Wiradjuri  people.  Gundagai is known for its Dog on the Tuckerbox Statue just outside of town off the Hume Highway.  The region is an important agricultural region with a rich history. 

For over a hundred years Gundagai has had courthouse facilities of one kind or another. The first Courthouse was constructed in 1859.  For more information and a detailed history including architectural drawings of the building in the Gundagai Gaol & Courthouse Conservation Management Plan.1

Murrumbidgee floods near the Gundagai Courthouse

The wide stream of the Murrumbidgee River snakes it way around the hills with lush flat land along its banks.  From the early days of settlement the River had flooded its banks and surrounding land from time to time.  The township of Gundagai was first settled along both sides of the River, in hindsight not the most prudent approach.

In June 1852 one of the worst floods occurred when the Murrumbidgee and another small tributary burst their banks resulting in extensive flooding.   Many lives were lost amounting to about one third of the town’s population and the village of Gundagai almost entirely destroyed, reported the Sydney Morning Herald in July 1852.  North Gundagai then had been originally built on the flat of the River bank.  As a result it was swept away in the great flood of 1852. 

Following the 1852 flood the Government resolved to reconstruct the township on higher ground.  The Courthouse was among the first stone buildings constructed. 

Early repairs and developing Courthouse grounds

In 1870 repairs to the North Gundagai Courthouse and improvements to its approach had stalled.  Reporting on the matter it seemed that the first choice of contractor was the cause of the delay in repairing “our local temple of justice”.  In addition the contractor allegedly had failed to keep costs ‘to an economical scale.’

Improving a ‘mean’ entrance

It was hoped that the Works Department would sanction alterations to the Courthouse entrance and approach as documented.  The alterations proposed that

“Instead of the unsightly high wall, and the one narrow, mean entrance….that would fence in the Courthouse square, a low wall should be erected, surmounted by an ornamental railing; [and]

…there should be two entrances, with a curvilinear path from each, and that the bank in front caused by the debris thrown out when the foundations were excavated should be sloped down to the boundary wall.”




Softening form and function of the Gundagai Courthouse

It was reported that if these improvements, at trifling expense were effected, and ornamental shrubs or trees planted in the square, it would impart a ‘pleasant and tasteful’ Courthouse - ventaspect to the building.  Whereas if the ‘original design (was) carried out the effect would be gaol-like and repulsive.’

Source: 12 November 1870, The Gundagai Times and Tumut, Adelong and Murrumbidgee District Advertiser, p.2.



Front entry
The Gundagai Courthouse is located at 161-169 Sheridan Street, Gundagai.


Three years later another Courthouse was constructed at Holbrook to the south in 1873.

The Wiradjuri people were the traditional owners and custodians of Gundagai land.


1. Noel Thompson Architecture Pty Ltd, Gundagai Gaol & Courthouse Conservation Management Plan, May 2012.

15 September 2015, updated 11 February 2022

B Stead
© BHS Legal

See more old Australian courthouse buildings here and articles here.   For example the former historic Murrumburah Courthouse near Harden further north from Gundagai.

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