old Australian courthouses
The Albany Courthouse is an operating Magistrates Court for civil and criminal matters in Albany, Western Australia. On the shores of the beautiful King George Sound, the first European settlement in 1826 was really a penal colony under the jurisdiction of the New South Wales Colony, and the first ‘courthouse’ as such a simple thatched roof affair. More history can be read on the WA Government’s Department of Justice page.
The current Orange Courthouse building was designed by the Colonial Government Architect James Barnet. Construction was completed in 1883. Previous buildings existed on the site, the first being erected in 1847, around the time of the town’s settlement, and operated as a Court of Petty Sessions, being the usual arrangements in those times. Orange was proclaimed a municipality in 1860, the first meeting being held in the Courthouse, located on the same site as today, but a different structure.
The old Port Adelaide Courthouse constructed in 1882 lies adjacent to the earlier Port Adelaide Police Station built in 1861. Inquests into deaths, often due to drownings following heavy drinking at local pubs, were held. These were inquests by juries in those times before the local police magistrate.
In 1858 a police station and lockup was constructed in Strathalbyn, a rapidly developing rural region south of Adelaide. A Courthouse soon followed, built of local stone.
The Armidale Courthouse and Sherriffs Office at 143-145 Beardy Street, Armidale, in the Northern Tablelands was an operating Local Court of New South Wales until January 2014. The first courthouse was constructed in 1844 with a more substantial building erected in 1858, in the Classical Revival style.
The Cairns Courthouse constructed in 1919 was described as a ‘graceful and imposing structure’. A far cry from the previous ‘disgraceful courthouse’.
The former Courthouse in Berry was designed by the colonial government architect James Barnet in the Greek Revival Style. No longer operating as a courthouse the building has been restored and is admirably surrounded by beautiful lush, formal gardens. The website of the Berry Courthouse Conservation Committee contains information on the history of Berry Courthouse, the building and its restoration.
The Police Court or Water Police Court in Phillip Street, Sydney near the busy waterfront of Circular Quay, no longer operates as a courthouse. Instead it is home to the Justice and Police Museum, telling stories of earlier times when water transport, merchant shipping and a busy harbour required regulating and policing to keep law and order in a rapidly developing colony.
The Norwood Courthouse 1937 in Norwood, Adelaide was one of the few police courthouse buildings built during the interwar period. It was reported at the time as being the ‘most commanding building outside the City’.
Courthouses in Australia reflect a diverse heritage of built form to meet colonial needs for the administration of justice.
The current Clare Courthouse was constructed in 1878 and occupied in 1880. The first Courthouse was constructed on a different site in 1850, and is now a museum.
Please note: 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.
In 1872 the Courthouse at Holbrook, once known as Germanton, housed a very small courtroom, described as an “apology”. Despite the cramped conditions, many matters were dealt within it.
Gundagai is a country town on the Murrumbidgee River in southern NSW. Famous for its statue of a dog sitting on a tuckerbox, immortalised in a song, Gundagai has a long history of settlement. The Gundagai Courthouse occupies an elevated position above the main street, affording it a commanding view over the township and the surrounding picturesque river valley.