Talbot and Clunes Shire

Talbot and Clunes Shire (1965-95), an area of 541 sq km, was proclaimed on 31 May 1965. Its antecedents were several. Local government began with Amherst borough (1858), which became Talbot borough in 1875, and with Clunes borough (1860). The boroughs' hinterland was the Amherst and Clunes Road Board (1860) which became Talbot shire on 31 October 1865. Clunes borough joined Talbot shire in 1965.

Both boroughs were gold towns, situated between Creswick and Maryborough, about 120 km north-west of Melbourne. The boroughs had roads radiating from them in all directions of the compass, but none is a main highway. A railway (1875) from Creswick to Maryborough passes through both towns.

Clunes and Talbot comprised the only significant population centres in the shire after gold petered out in Amherst. Amherst and Dunach are ghost gold towns, the latter functioning as Talbot shire’s administrative centre until 1915. Shortly after 1900 gold mining ended except in a few places, and the shire relied on agricultural and pastoral activities. Both towns had showgrounds and racecourses. In 1946 the Australian blue book, described Talbot shire (including the township) and Clunes borough:

The shire’s and the borough’s populations slowly decreased until the 1970s when an upturn occurred. It coincided with an appreciation of the towns’ intact heritage and attractive settings, unaffected by main highways.

On 19 January 1995, most of Talbot and Clunes shire was united with Maryborough city and most of Bet Bet and Tullaroop shires to form Central Goldfields shire.

The Talbot and Clunes shire’s census populations were:

census date population
1966 1514
1971 1445
1981 1700
1986 2130
1991 2443

Talbot shire’s census populations were:

census date population
1881 2750
1891 1745
1921 1382
1933 1275
1947 852
1954 803
1961 742

Further Reading

Richard Aitken, Talbot and Clunes conservation study, South Yarra, 1988

David Williams, Gables, girders and glorious gold, Vermont South, 2003

Amherst, Clunes and Talbot entries