Gundagai Courthouse | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Gundagai Courthouse

Item details

Name of item: Gundagai Courthouse
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Law Enforcement
Category: Courthouse
Primary address: Sheridan Street, Gundagai, NSW 2722
Local govt. area: Gundagai
Hectares (approx): 0.02011
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Sheridan StreetGundagaiGundagai  Primary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Attorney General's DepartmentState Government 

Statement of significance:

Gundagai Courthouse is a good example of Victorian Free Classical style architecture and is located on a prominent corner in the town. The courthouse is one of the few remaining courthouses in New South Wales designed by Colonial Architect Alexander Dawson. Gundagai Courthouse has been associated with the provision of law and justice in the town since 1860. The courthouse was the venue for the trial of the bushranger Captain Moonlite and his gang in 1879.
Date significance updated: 19 Oct 10
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.


Designer/Maker: A Dawson
Construction years: 1859-1860
Physical description: Gundagai Courthouse is sited in a commanding position in the town. Designed in the Victorian Free Classical Style, the formal arrangement evokes a sense of order and authority. The symmetrical façade has a centrally placed double-height courtroom which is fronted with a classical pedimented portico supported on doric columns. (Schwager Brooks 1993) The flanking wings (which are likely to be later additions) have wide verandahs supported on paired timber posts and low pitched hipped roofs. The interior of the courtroom is modern and lined with mountain ash panelling.
A obelisk erected to commemorate soldiers from Gundagai who fell during the Boer War is located in front of the courthouse.
Other accommodation: General office, CLC office, Judges/Magistrates Chambers, Crown prospect room, legal room, witness room, Jury rooms.
Construction: Gundegai Courthouse is constructed in rendered brick with the roof clad in metal decking. Verandahs are supported on timber posts. The Court Room interior is refurbished with mountain ash. (Schwager Brooks 1993)
Interior materials: Timber, pressed metal.
Exterior materials: Rendered brick.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Good. (March 2007)
Date condition updated:12 Oct 10
Modifications and dates: Single-storey wings added. (date unknown)
Complete refurbishment following fire damage. (1943)
Metal deck roofing. Rear toilet block addition. (date unknown)
Current use: Courthouse
Former use: Courthouse


Historical notes: Gundagai Courthouse was designed by Colonial Architect Alexander Dawson and opened in 1860. The courthouse was constructed after the flood of 1852. Gundagai grew quickly in the second half of the nineteenth century following the discovery of gold in the area.

The most famous trial that took place at Gundagai Courthouse occurred in 1879. The bushranger, Moonlite, and his gang were tried here following a shoot-out between the gang and the police, in which two of the gang and a police constable were killed. Immediately following their capture, Moonlite and the remainder of the gang were imprisoned in the old gaol, which adjoined the courthouse.

In 1943 the interior of the building was completely burnt out. The courthouse was rebuilt and the opening ceremony occurred on the 25 March 1944. On 28 March 1944 Lord Wakehurst visited the newly opened courthouse, Gundagai’s first official visit from a State Governor.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Civic centre-
7. Governing-Governing Law and order-Activities associated with maintaining, promoting and implementing criminal and civil law and legal processes Administration of justice-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Events-Activities and processes that mark the consequences of natural and cultural occurences Major trials-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups -

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Gundagai Courthouse has been associated with the provision of law and justice in the town since 1860. The courthouse was the site of a historically significant trial, that of the bushranger Captain Moonlite and his gang. The courthouse is associated with old Gundagai Gaol, which is located at the rear of the courthouse on Byron Street.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Gundagai Courthouse is associated with Captain Moonlite and his gang who were captured and tried at Gundagai. The courthouse is also associated with Alexander Dawson, Colonial Architect of New South Wales from 1856-1862.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Gundagai Courthouse is a good example of Victorian Free Classical style architecture. The building features a centrally placed double height courtroom fronted with a classical pedimented portico supported on doric columns.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Gundagai Courthouse is likely to have significance for the local community as a long-standing civic institution of the town and also for its role in the trial of the bushranger Captain Moonlight.
SHR Criteria f)
Gundagai Courthouse is one of the few remaining courthouses in New South Wales designed by Colonial Architect Alexander Dawson.
SHR Criteria g)
The simple form and layout of the original central portion of Gundagai Courthouse is typical of mid nineteenth-century country courthouses in New South Wales.
Integrity/Intactness: Moderately intact with a moderate level of integrity. The interior was refurbished following a fire in 1943.
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register     

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written 1993Heritage and Conservation Register
Written  Gundagai Court House’ (historical overview)
WrittenNSW Department of Commerce2007Condition Assessments GAP Analysis Court House Report: Gundagai
WrittenSchwager Brooks and Partners Pty Ltd1993Department of Courts Administration: Preliminary Heritage and Conservation Register

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: State Government
Database number: 3080066

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