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Holbrook Courthouse (former) 1873, NSW


Please note, if you have landed here looking for the contact details of the Holbrook Local Court, please go to the NSW Department of Justice – Holbrook Court House here.

The Holbrook Court House sits on the traditional lands of the Wiradjuri people.

Holbrook courthouse, old Australian courthouses, early Australian courthouses

Holbrook Courthouse, Albury Street, Holbrook, New South Wales

The Holbrook Courthouse building today has had various predecessors, the first in 1872.  The Court facilities, as a place for the administration of justice has also had different functions from being a Mining Warden’s Court to a Court of Petty Sessions to a Local Court.

Holbrook is a country town south west of Sydney on the Hume Highway, see location map below.  Holbrook was known as Germanton in 1858, and other names before that: see the Holbrook website.  In 1914 it was changed to Holbrook, in honour of the daring feats of Commander Norman Holbrook VC during World War 1.   In 1914 Lieutenant Holbrook, as Commander of British Submarine B11, torpedoed and sank the Turkish battleship Mesudiye.  

As to the Holbrook Courthouse as it existed in 1872, a correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald wrote that Germanton (as it was then known), had

“……an apology for a Court-house and police station combined.  This building  deserves passing notice. A more miserable shanty I have rarely met, yet within its walls are a Police Court, a lock-up and police quarters.   Fancy a court-room not 12 feet square, where as many as thirteen cases of a day often present themselves – three J.P.s presiding, witnesses, deposition clerk, &c., rather a close pack; fortunately “justice is blind” or she never would find her way to such a miserable abode.”  

The Sydney Morning Herald, 26 December 1872.

Other records sourced from colonial newspapers reveal the Courthouse had an interesting past.  Bushranger Richard Lanaghan was committed for trial at the Germanton Police Court in 1877 after being charged with robbery under arms on the Wagga Wagga Road: the Evening News, 19 January 1877.

From the 1940s to the 1970s there existed a Warden’s Court at Holbrook: State Records of NSW.  In 1916 reporting on the ‘Mining in the State’ it was stated that there was a ‘meeting of the Warden’s Court at Holbrook, formerly known as Germanton’. SMH 29 March 1916.

Warden’s Courts

Warden’s Courts were part of the administrative framework established by legislation: An Act to make better provision for the regulation of Mining, 1874.  It permitted the provision of specialist administration and regulation of the active mining industry.  Warden’s Courts were courts of record set up in country areas as required.  They had separate legal identity even though the Office of Mining Warden may have existed alongside Police Magistrate Courts.


Holbrook Courthouse, early Australian Courthouses, old Australian Courthouses, colonial Australian courthouses, Australian legal history, administration of justice


No doubt as the region progressed Court facilities were upgraded from the reported ‘miserable shanty’ of 1872.

In 1938 the Department of Works and Local Government signed contracts for the Holbrook Courthouse and police station.  The plans comprised alterations, additions, repairs and painting – all for £1,040.  SMH, 26 July 1938.

Further to the north west of Holbrook a courthouse at Lambing Flat (now known as Young) built much earlier following the rush of people to newly discovered gold fields in that region in the 1860s.


The Evening News
The Sydney Morning Herald
State Records of New South Wales

15 September 2013.
B Stead
BHS Legal

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