Our History

1892 - Mechanics Institute and Free Library

Sterling Place has a rich history dating back to 1892 when the foundation stone was laid to develop a Mechanics Institute and Free Library. 

Messrs. Neville Bros, of Geelong, were the original builders.  Using Ararat Bricks, the brickwork was completed by Martin and Sons of Geelong. The plasterer was Mr. Mathers and the architect was Mr. AJ Derrick of Geelong.  Mr. Duckmanton, of Dunkeld, was the acting clerk of works when the architect was absent. The total cost of the original building was £500, with £442 being paid to Neville Brothers. 

The official opening was performed by Mr John Thomson, MLA, who commented on the confidence of the Dunkeld community.

"The future prosperity of which was assured when the residents could put their hands in their pockets and erect such a fine building as the one they were in'" [Source: The Western Agriculturalist, 4 February 1893, courtesy of Dunkeld Museum].  

1913 additions & 1963 extensions

In 1913 the Supper Room was added to the Dunkeld Mechanics' Institute. 

In 1963 the western end of the hall was extended and the foyer including toilets were added.  The Glenthompson brick wall was built at this time. 

Up to the 1980s, the hall was the centre of the community hosting many dances, concerts, film nights and other community events over the years.  

2007 - an uncertain future

In 2007 the Dunkeld Memorial Hall was starting to show definite signs of long-term wear and tear and it was decided to survey the community asking residents for their views regarding the Hall's future.

At this time the Dunkeld Memorial Hall was managed by the Dunkeld Public Lands Committee, a statutory committee appointed by the State Government.

Following a meeting organized by the Community Building Initiative program, there was overwhelming support from the Dunkeld community for a multi-purpose community facility.  

Following this the Dunkeld Community Centre project committee was formed as a sub-committee of the Dunkeld Public Lands Committee. In 2009 the Dunkeld Community Centre Committee was formed as a separate statutory committee with sole responsibility for the Dunkeld Memorial Hall.  

Over the next 6 years fundraising activities took place to help raise funds for the development of the building. These included monster garage sales, raffles, concerts, performances, grape picking, sale of biscuits, open garden, and the very successful Serra Terror adventure walk, which started in 2010. Community members and groups also made generous donations.  

2013 - Redevelopment

In May 2013 the Centre development received a grant of $500,000 from the State Government of Victoria for the project.   A community appeal was launched in the same month, which resulted in the community raising in excess of $80,000 for the development. The Dunkeld and district community raised over $300,000. Allan and Maria Myers generously matched this amount. The Community Centre committee was then in a position financially to commence the project.

Construction commences

The design and development of the Centre commenced in mid-2013 using local architect Jakob Kelly and builders Searle Bros, from Ballarat and Warrnambool.  Construction commenced in February 2014 and was completed in October 2014. 

2015 - Re-opening

The new Dunkeld Community Centre, named Sterling Place, was officially opened on Sunday 29 March 2015. 

Sterling Place is one of Dunkeld's most exciting projects, designed to support our community's growth and development and help attract tourists and visitors alike to the Southern Grampians' region.