July 1, 2022

Old Places

Where we study the past to define our future

The Wallan Wallan Tollgate

Introduction

Today, as one turns off the Hume Highway onto the entry-ramp towards Wallan the journey is relatively carefree, apart from likelyhood of being cut-off by an unruly driver attempting to squeeze past where the road converges from two lanes into one. But 150 years ago, those journeying to Wallan and beyond were not irked by their fellow traveller, but instead by those who prevented their passage unless they paid a toll.

Some years ago, the story of the tollgate at Tollbar Corner, located on the outskirts of Wallan was told. This article now reveals another tollgate located much closer to Wallan – known as the “Wallan-Wallan Tollgate”.


Overview of Tollgates

In the mid 1850’s, the road passing through Wallan was the main route northwards towards the many goldfields in Bendigo and Beechworth, and also to Sydney. Initially this ‘road’ was nothing more than a dirt track. Movement along this road was difficult and at certain times of the year, practically impossible with the road turning to mud in winter and being rock hard in summer.

An article from The Argus newspaper on June 22nd, 1853 provides details on the state of the roads between Wallan and Kilmore:

“Next day, we passed along a succession of hill and plain, but owing to the very bad state of the roads, we only reached the foot of Pretty Sally’s Hill by our second evening. Next day we had much difficulty in getting over this very steep hill, for the horses could scarcely hold their footing in ascending the same. Here the road gradually descends towards the township of Kilmore. All along we passed a great many teams camped along the side of the road, unable to proceed. When within two miles from Kilmore, leaving the main road, we took a track to the left, for we were told that to go through Kilmore was almost an impossibility with a cart. We passed a number of small farms lying to the right of Kilmore through a fearful bad road; and, finding our horses very much exhausted, camped for the third evening. Next morning, proceeding through some fences, we passed Mr. Clarke’s station. Here, to our great joy, we found the road was more hard and firm, the road passing from the black soft soil, through which we had passed with much difficulty, into a clayey soil.”

The Victorian Colonial Government had no means of raising its own capital to generate funds for road building and repair and thus the Colony adopted the British concept of the collection of tolls. A tollbar or tollgate was a barrier placed over a track or roadside where passage was granted after paying a toll; the toll being a charge towards the maintenance of the road. An article from the Ovens and Murray Advertiser newspaper on July 31st, 1866 best sums it up:

“Toll bars are looked upon by most people as a great nuisance. They are however to a certain extent necessary evils. When a road is made, and the travelling public enjoy the advantage of it, there is something equitable and reasonable in levying a small sum from all who use it to defray the cost of maintenance. A good road even with a toll gate on it, will be cheaper to the owners of vehicles, than a bad road free of such obstructions. The wear and tear of horses and vehicles will outweigh many times the tollage levied on a good road.”

The first toll gate in Victoria was established on Heidelberg road just over the Merri Creek Bridge from Clifton Hill and was a great success.1 Over the next few years there were a multitude of tollgates installed at junctions of key thoroughfares throughout Victoria, including the one at Wallan Wallan. The collection of tolls was a critical revenue making enterprise as the settlement expanded its population and infrastructure. The Government tendered out the gates and the lessee would get to keep the takings of the gate. An announcement from the Victoria Government Gazette no. 162 on December 7th, 1849 provides insight into this:

“…The Lessees will be required to enter into a Bond in double the amount of the rent, with two responsible sureties (who must be present), for the due observance of the conditions of the Lease, and the regular payment of the rent, by equal monthly instalments, before the expiration of seven days after the termination of each month.”

A notice from the Victoria Government Gazette no. 54 on May 15th, 1857 provides an example of toll charges where s. represents shillings and d. represents pence.

Toll rates from Victoria Government Gazette no. 54. May 15th, 1857
Toll rates from Victoria Government Gazette no. 54. May 15th, 1857

A slight diversion to Beveridge

The Central Road Board came into existence in 1853 when the Victorian Legislative Council passed An Act for making, and improving Roads in the Colony of Victoria, known as the Roads Act. It was responsible for the calling of tenders, determining the position of tollgates, appointing toll-keepers, the levying of tolls and prosecutions for the non-payment of tolls. However, The Central Road Board was abolished just 4 years later in 1857 and following that date the responsibility of administering the funds from the tolls and applying it to the construction and maintenance of roads was placed in the hands of local Roads Boards. The board applicable to the Wallan Wallan area was known as the Donnybrook and Wallan Wallan District Roads Board.

The Donnybrook and Wallan Wallan Road District was first defined and named by proclamation in the Victoria Government Gazette on 19 August 18632 and the Roads Board built its office in Beveridge in 1865. The office was a gabled bluestone building with a distinct hexagonal chimney3 and its distance from the Wallan Wallan Tollgate was just over 3 kilometres.

Donnybrook and Wallan Wallan District Road Board Land Reservation Notice - Victoria Government Gazette no. 7. January 20th, 1865
Donnybrook and Wallan Wallan District Road Board Land Reservation Notice – Victoria Government Gazette no. 7. January 20th, 1865

The Roads Boards were the forerunners of local government authorities. On November 3rd, 1871 the Donnybrook and Wallan Wallan district became the Shire of Merriang and the building served as the shire hall until 1915 when the Merriang Shire became part of the Shire of Broadmeadows, which is now part of the City of Hume. The building was used as the local hall until damaged by fire in 1967.4

Former Donnybrook and Wallan Wallan District Roads Board Office (Payne, J. W. (1974). The history of Beveridge)
Former Donnybrook and Wallan Wallan District Roads Board Office (Payne, J. W. (1974). The history of Beveridge)

In 1969 the building was demolished by the Victorian Country Roads Board (CRB) for the creation of the Hume Highway but part of the chimney was preserved and re-erected on the same site. The site is located on the Beveridge side of Lithgow Street, just prior to the Hume Highway overhead.

Merriang Shire Hall Chimney
A much shortened version of the hexagonal chimney shaft with dressed bluestone corniced capping from the former Donnybrook and Wallan Wallan District Roads Board office

If one looks at the former Donnybrook and Wallan Wallan District Roads Board office photo closely, a chimney may be observed at the top-centre, but there also appears to be the top of a chimney at the peak of the roof on the left hand side, which closer resembles the reconstructed chimney with a flat top. After consultation with a person involved in rebuilding the chimney5, it is thought that the reconstructed chimney is this one. However, there are no records of the Donnybrook and Wallan Wallan District Roads Board Office ever having two chimneys, so the appearance of two chimneys in the photo is a mystery yet to be solved.

Top of chimney circled in red at peak of roof
Top of chimney circled in red at peak of roof

The Wallan Wallan Tollgate

The Victoria Government Gazette no. 88 on July 28th, 1857 shows that a tender of £215 by Isaac Meadows had been accepted to “erect a toll-house and gate upon the Sydney road at Wallan-wallan”.

Victoria Government Gazette no. 88 - July 28th, 1857
Victoria Government Gazette no. 88 – July 28th, 1857

A ledger entry in the Sydney Road Contracts Ledger and Contract Specification Register 1854-1858 shows that the record for payment had been entered on May 13, 1855. Other ledger entries on the same page show a year of 1857 and given the corresponding record in the Victoria Government Gazette was in 1857, it appears that the wrong year was inadvertently recorded. It would seem that the Wallan Wallan Tollgate was built in May 1857 or just slightly earlier.

Ledger entry for tender by Isaac Meadows
Ledger entry for tender by Isaac Meadows

In addition to the gate there was also a house and fence. For reasons unknown, the Tollhouse was removed in 1861.

Removal of Wallan Wallan toll-house. Victoria Government Gazette no. 41 - March 15th 1861
Removal of Wallan Wallan toll-house. Victoria Government Gazette no. 41 – March 15th 1861

An advertisement requesting tenders for the lease of the “Wallan Wallan Toll-Gate” appeared in The Age newspaper on July 15th, 1857.

Advertisement for the first lease of the Wallan Wallan Tollgate - The Age Newspaper - July 15th, 1857
Advertisement for the first lease of the Wallan Wallan Tollgate – The Age Newspaper – July 15th, 1857


The first toll-keeper of the Wallan Wallan Tollgate was Nathaniel Gardiner who paid £2344 for the lease from August 1st, 1857 to June 30th, 1858.6

Tenders for the position of toll-keeper were usually called annually, but sometimes shorter leases were required. The Victoria Government Gazette records toll-keepers for the Wallan Wallan Tollgate from 1858 until 1863 and which are also echoed in newspapers such as The Age, The Argus, and The Victorian Farmers Journal and Gardeners Chronicle.

The toll-keepers for the Wallan Wallan Tollgate recorded from 1858 onwards in the Victoria Government Gazette are as follows. Records for 1860 and 1864 were unable to be located.

Toll-keeperPeriodDurationLease AmountReference
P. J. MartinJuly 1st, 1858 – December 31st, 18586 months £826Victoria Government Gazette no. 91
July 13th, 1858
Gilbert HandasydeJanuary 1st, 1859 – December 31st, 18591 year£2400Victoria Government Gazette no. 9
January 21st, 1859
Patrick HannaJune 1st, 1859 – December 31st, 18596 months£972Victoria Government Gazette no. 86
June 3rd, 1859
R. Woolley and Co.January 1st, 1861 – December 31st, 18611 year£2160Victoria Government Gazette no. 16
February 1st, 1861
John DwyerJanuary 1st, 1862 – June 30th, 18626 months£1002Victoria Government Gazette no. 20
February 14th, 1862
William RyanMarch 1st, 1862 – June 30th, 18623 months£490Victoria Government Gazette no. 38
March 28th, 1862
John DwyerJuly 1st, 1862 – December 31st, 18626 months£755Victoria Government Gazette no. 90
August 1st, 1862
Patrick HannaJanuary 1st, 1863 – December 31st, 18631 year£1524Victoria Government Gazette no. 15
February 10th, 1863
Toll-keepers for the Wallan Wallan Tollgate as recorded in the Victoria Government Gazette

It may be noted that Gilbert Handasyde had the lease for a full year from January 1st, 1859 to December 31st, 1859 but that six months later from July 1st, 1859 – December 31st, 1859 it was under the name of Patrick Hanna. A newspaper article from The Argus on April 28th, 1860 sheds light on the cause:

“In 1859, the plaintiff, Mr. Gilbert Handasyde, leased from the Government certain toll-gates at Wallan Wallan, Kilmore, and Willomavin, at the respective rates of £200, £210, and £205 per month.

Mr. Handasyde found out that he was a considerable loser, through parties evading the tollgates, and made an application to the Government for a reduction of his rent in consequence. This was not acceded to, and eventually, after sundry negotiations respecting the removal of one of the toll-gates to a better position, the defendant asked to be allowed to give up the lease, which was acceded to, and on the 30th of April, 1859, the rent having been paid up to that date, the Government put other parties in possession of the toll-gates.”

To summarise: once Gilbert Handasyde began to take considerable losses as a result of people evading tollgates, he requested a reduction in the £200 he paid monthly for the lease of the Wallan Wallan tollgate. This request was denied but it was later agreed that he could give up the lease. A notice in the Victoria Government Gazette no. 77 on July 28th, 1857 requests tenders “for the Lease of Tolls to be collected at the toll-gates at Wallan-wallan, Kilmore and Willowmavin, respectively, from 1st June to 31st December, 1859.” and as per the Victoria Government Gazette no. 86 on June 3rd, 1859 Patrick Hanna had his tender of £972 for the lease of the Wallan-Wallan Tollgate accepted. His required monthly amount of £162 was considerably less than the £200 per month Gilbert Handasyde was initially paying.

It may also be noted that for January 1st to June 30th, 1862 that John Dwyer took out a lease but that William Ryan took it over from March 1st, 1862. John Dwyer resumed the lease for 1862 from July 1st. No reason for this has been discovered.

From 1865 onwards, records of toll-keepers are recorded annually within the Donnybrook and Wallan Wallan Road District Assessment book. The Rates (Lease Amount) were based upon the gross value of the property at a rate of 9 pence in the pound and ‘the Queen’ was the owner of the rateable property. Records for 1869 and 1870 were unable to be located.

Toll-keeperDateGross ValueLease AmountName of OwnerDescription and Situation of Rateable Property
Patrick HannaSeptember 1865£1800£1798The QueenToll house & Gate Wallan
Hugh A. HuntSeptember 1866£1545£1342The QueenToll house & Gate Wallan
Edmund CotterSeptember 1867£1180£1176The QueenToll house & Gate Wallan
Edward HillSeptember 1868£1320£1320The QueenToll house & Gate Wallan
David NewellSeptember 1871£924N/AN/ATollbar & Toll house Wallan Wallan
David NewellOctober 1872£924N/AN/ATollhouse and Tollbar Wallan Wallan
Toll-keepers for the Wallan Wallan Tollgate as recorded in the Donnybrook and Wallan Wallan Road District Assessment book

Rate Assessment from 1865 as recorded in the Donnybrook and Wallan Wallan rate book
Rate Assessment from 1865 as recorded in the Donnybrook and Wallan Wallan Road District Assessment book

End of the road

The last entry in the Donnybrook and Wallan Wallan Road District Assessment book for the Wallan Wallan Tollgate is 1872 and no further records in rate books could been located past this year.

An article in the Kilmore Free Press newspaper on December 18th, 1873 states that “Denis Waddick bought at auction for £260 the right of Wallan gate tolls for 12 months”.

On April 6th, 1876 an article in the Kilmore Free Press newspaper mentions that “Cr. McCormack moved that Horan’s tender be accepted for Kinlochewe and Wallan Wallan toll-gate”. But it is most likely that the 3 month period did not commence until May and thus it is reasonable to assume that the Wallan Wallan tollgate was in operation until at least July 31st, 1876.

Horan’s tender was £26 for a period of 3 months for both the Kinlochewe and Wallan Wallan Tollgates and it may be observed that this was a significant reduction (even when pro-rated for a full year) compared to previous years. Waddick’s tender in 1873 for £260 for the full year was just short of 9 times less than the £2400 paid by Gilbert Handasyde in 1859. The cause for such reductions was the introduction of a network of Victorian Railways which led to the decline in the relevance of tollgates. Goods were now transported by trains and the roads were no longer used for such purposes. In 1872, the North Eastern Railway Line and the Wallan Railway Station were opened.

In 1876 the State Government decided it would abolish toll gates in the next year7 but it should be noted that many toll gates were still in operation after 1877.

On August 12th, 1876 the Leader newspaper advertises “the Kinlocharven and Wallan Wallan Toll Gates, Toll Houses and Water Tanks” for sale, providing evidence that the Wallan Wallan Tollgate was no longer in use by this date.


Keepers of the Gate

Being a toll-keeper in Victoria in the 1800’s had the potential to be a profitable business provided the toll intake was greater than the amount paid for the lease. Over a period of 19 years during its operation, there were 13 parties who tossed their hat in the ring for the privilege of being the keeper of the The Wallan Wallan Tollgate and who hoped to turn a tidy profit by doing so. Whilst it is acknowledged that mention and details of some of them may garner little excitement, they do deserve some form or accolade, if but only being included within this article.

Nathaniel Gardiner

Nathaniel Gardiner was the first person to have the lease of the Wallan Wallan Tollgate from August 1st, 1857 to June 30th, 1858. An entry in the Sydney Road Contracts Ledger and Contract Specification Register 1854-1858 seems to indicate that Gardiner ran the Seymour Punt which crossed the Goulburn river. In March 1857 he was compensated for “putting on new bark on the hut at Seymour Punt” and in April 1857 was compensated “sawing batten for Punt” and “laying on same and repairing deck”.

Nathaniel Gardiner's activities in early 1857
Nathaniel Gardiner’s activities in early 1857

No records have been found to indicate that Gardiner returned to toll-keeping in any capacity after 1858.

P. J. Martin

P.J. Martin followed from July 1st, 1858 to December 31st, 1858 and at the same time had the leases for Pentridge and Brunswick and Deep Creek.8 But he never returned to Wallan Wallan after 1858 and instead took up the leases for Mount Alexander, Aitken’s Gap, Gisborne, Woodend, Burnt Bridge, Point Nepean, Calsruhe, Bobby Creek, Taradale, Golden Point, Harcourt, Northcote, St Kilda, Keilor, Keilor Plains, Church Street Bridge and Upper Plenty throughout 1859 to 1863.9

Gilbert Handasyde

Gilbert Handasyde took up a lease for Wallan Wallan for the full year of 1859 and at the same time had the leases for Kilmore and Willowmavin.10 But after taking considerable losses as a result of people evading the tollgates he gave up his leases for these locations and Patrick Hanna took over from June 1st, 1859.11 Handasyde subsequently took up leases for Bobby Creek, Taradale, Golden Point, Harcourt, Calsruhe and Northcote during throughout the years 1859 to 186112 and competed with P.J. Martin in tendering for the leases.

R. Woolley and Co.

A company by the name of R. Woolley and Co. had the lease of the Wallan Wallan Tollgate for the full year of 186113 but never returned to toll-keeping in any capacity after this.

John Dwyer

Prior to Wallan Wallan, John Dwyer had the lease for Janefield for the full year of 1861 and from January 1st, 1862 to June 30th 1862.14 He took up the lease for Wallan Wallan from January 1st, 1862 to June 30th, 186215 but for reasons unknown this lease was taken over by William Ryan from March 1st, 1862.16 Dwyer resumed his lease for the remainder of the year from July 1st, 1862 to December 31st, 1862.17 He never returned to Wallan Wallan after this and instead took up the leases for Moranding, Black Forest and Richmond Punt in 1863.18

Patrick Hanna

Patrick Hanna began his career working as an Engineer in New South Wales with George Stephenson, a civil and mechanical engineer renowned as the “Father of Railways” for his pioneering contributions on rail transport.19 From 1838 Hanna worked as a shipbuilder with various firms in England and Scotland.20 In 1853, he boarded a ship for Victoria with his nephew21 and in the same year used his knowledge of steam power ships to establish the first steam-powered City ferry across the Yarra River at the foot of King Street in Melbourne.22

He began his foray in the toll-keeping business in 1858 when took up the lease of the Hawthorn tollgate from July 1st, 1858 to December 31st, 1858.23 He subsequently took over the lease of Wallan Wallan, Kilmore and Willowmavin from Gilbert Handaysde on June 1st, 1859.

On November 15th, 1859 he purchased portion 34 in the parish of Wallan Wallan24 and on February 16th, 1860 he purchased Portion 33a of 80 acres in the parish of Wallan Wallan25. Both lots of land were in close vicinity to the location of the tollgate.

Portion 34 and portion 33A in the parish of Wallan Wallan owned by Patrick Hanna
Portion 34 and portion 33A in the parish of Wallan Wallan owned by Patrick Hanna

In 1861 he was able to procure the lease of Kilmore and Willowmavin26 again but lost out to R. Woolley and Co. for Wallan Wallan. At the same time he was successful for the leases of Wangarrata, Seymour Punt, Shellford and Queenscliff.27

In 1861, Hanna became lessee of the Goulburn punts which crossed the Goulburn river at Seymour to connect the Eastern and Western districts of Victoria. The punts were costly to keep in good repair and Hanna therefore made an offer to the Government to construct a bridge. A tendering process subsequently took place but Hanna was unsuccessful. However, after the builder of the successful tender declined to build the bridge another tendering process took place. This time Hanna’s design was approved and the bridge was opened in 1863.28 The expense to build the bridge was funded by Hanna and as remuneration he collected tolls for the next 7 years.

During 1862 Hanna held the leases for Taraville, Kinlochewe, Willowmavin, Broadford, Seymour Punt, Benalla, Wangaratta and Kinlochewe.29 From January 1st, 1863 to December 31st, 1863 he was again successful in procuring the lease for the Wallan Wallan Tollgate and at the same time had the leases for Kinlochewe, Kilmore, Willowmavin, Seymour Punt, Benalla and Wangaratta.30

With his income obtained from the ferry across the Yarra river in Melbourne and the tolls collected from the multiple toll-gates he leased, Hanna became a wealthy man. This enabled him to purchase LaTrobe House at William Street in Melbourne and thus meet the property qualification to stand for the Legislative Council. He entered Victorian Parliamentary life when he became an Emerald Hill Councillor in 1864. In 1866 he was elected to the Assembly for the Murray Boroughs and held the seat as a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) until 1877. He stood and lost another seat before re-entering parliament under a new constitution in 1882 which he held until ill-health before his death.31

Hanna was again successful in his tender for the lease of Wallan Wallan from January 1st, 1865 to December 31st, 1865.32 It is also assumed that Hanna held the lease of Wallan Wallan for the full year of 1864 (please refer to information detailed under John Clancy).

He passed away in September, 1890.33

Patrick Hanna
Patrick Hanna

Hugh A. Hunt

Hugh Hunt had the lease of the Moranding tollgate from January 1st, 1862 to June 30th, 1862.34 He took up the lease of the Wallan Wallan Tollgate for the full year of 1866.35 It is most probable that he held leases for other tollgates between Moranding in 1862 and Wallan Wallan in 1866, but because the record-keeping was shifted from the Victoria Government Gazette to local council records, identifying other locations is difficult.

Edmund Cotter

Edmund Cotter had the lease of the Wallan Wallan Tollgate from January 1st, 1867 to December 31st, 1867.36 Prior to this he held the leases of Church Street Bridge, Mulgrave and Point Nepean from July 1st, 1862 to December 31st, 186237 and Mulgrave, Keilor and Keilor Plains from January 1st, 1863 to December 31st, 1863.38 Similar to Hugh A. Hunt, identifying records when they were shifted from the Victoria Government Gazette to local council records is difficult. However, an article in The Argus newspaper on October 30th, 1865 shows that he was toll-keeper at Richmond for this year and an article in The Age newspaper on December 30th, 1868 provides details of a court case between Edmund Cotter and the Nunawading Road Board where Cotter had failed to pay £11 in rates due for the Bally-shanassy tollgate.

Edmund Hill

Edmund Hill took up the lease of the Wallan Wallan Tollgate for the full year of 1868.39 No further records for Edmund have been located.

David Newell

David Newell leased the Dandenong tollgate from March 20th, 1862 to June 30th, 186240 and the Inverleigh and Shelford tollgates from July 1st, 1862 to December 31st, 1862.41 He leased the Wallan Wallan Tollgate for both 1871 and 1872.42

Denis Waddick

Denis Waddick Leased the Wallan Wallan Tollgate for the full year of 1873.43 No further records for him have been located.

Horan

Horan (no first initial or name is provided) is mentioned in the Kilmore Free Press newspaper on April 6th, 1876 as leasing the Wallan Wallan Tollgate. No further records for him have been located.

John Clancy (Toll “Collector”)

For those who took up leases of multiple tollgates at the same time so it would not feasible to live at the location of the tollgate and instead they employed others to collect the tolls. One such case is that of John Clancy who is mentioned in the book Tale of a Century by J. A. Maher.

John arrived in Port Phillip Bay on Christmas Day in 1852 and made his way to the Bendigo Diggings where he was moderately successful. He later worked as an Engine Driver at Flinders Street Melbourne for a couple of years but the job was strenuous and his health suffered as a result.

Maher goes on to mention that:

“… John Clancy engaged for a term of six months as collector at the Broadford toll-gate; later he acted in a similar capacity for six months at Campbellfield, and for three years at Wallan.”

So who did John Clancy work for? Assuming that he worked for the same toll-keeper during his tenure as a toll collector, it should be a simple exercise of identifying the one toll-keeper who held leases for Broadford for 6 months, Campbellfield for 6 months and then Wallan Wallan for 3 years. This assumption appears to hold.

Patrick Hanna leased the Broadford tollgate from January 1st, 1862 to June 30th, 1862. He also leased the Campbellfield tollgate from July 1st, 1862 to December 31st, 1862. He also had the lease of Wallan Wallan for the full years of 1863 and for 1865. Whilst no records for the Wallan Wallan Tollgate for 1864 have been obtained, it is not unreasonable to think that Patrick Hanna also had the lease in 1864. Thus, with the 6 months at Broadford, 6 months at Campbellfield and the 3 years of 1863, 1864 and 1865 at Wallan Wallan making up 3 years, it would appear that John Clancy was paid to collect tolls on behalf of Patrick Hanna.


Location of the Wallan Wallan Tollgate

One question that begs to be answered is “What was the location of the Wallan Wallan Tollgate?” The first piece of information available to answer this question is from the Victoria Government Gazette no. 88 on July 28th, 1857 where it asks for tenders to “erect a toll-house and gate upon the Sydney road at Wallan Wallan“. The Victoria Government Gazette no. 88 on April 1st, 1859 shows that a contract for “Repairs of toll-houses at Wallan-wallan and Kilmore” at the location of Sydney Road has been accepted.

From the above information we know that the Wallan Wallan Tollgate was located somewhere on Sydney Road and it would seem logical that it was close to Wallan. The Victoria Government Gazette no. 62 on May 18th, 1860 allows us to drill further into the location of the tollgate where “It is ordered that a check-gate in connexion with the Wallan-wallan tollgate be erected at the junction of the Main Sydney road with a road dividing blocks Nos. 25 and 30 in the parish of Wallan-wallan”.

The purpose of a check-gate was to prevent people evading tollgates. Given the check-gate was “in “connexion” [British spelling of connection] with the Wallan-wallan tollgate”, it cannot be regarded as the Wallan Wallan Tollgate itself and unfortunately “the junction of the Main Sydney road with a road dividing blocks Nos. 25 and 30″ was not Wallan Wallan Tollgate’s location. However, it would seem apparent that it was located somewhere nearby!

The true location of the Wallan Wallan Tollgate appears to be provided by page 24 of the book Pretty Sally’s Hill by J. W. Payne as follows: “…Wallan toll which stood adjacent to the Red Barn Lane”. But there are no sources or references provided and given this is the only instance recorded of the tollgate being located opposite Red Barn Lane found, is this information correct? And where is Red Barn Lane today?

An article from the Kilmore Free Press newspaper on May 4th, 1871 mentions “contractors for section No 6 of contract No 3 had taken a quantity of quarried stone from Mr Roulston’s quarry through Mr Laffan’s paddock to Sydney Road, thereby evading toll at the Wallan Wallan Toll Gate”. A map of Mr Laffan’s property (part of Inverlochy Castle Hotel) supplied by a great grandchild of Mr Laffan shows a “Toll” paddock with its South-Eastern corner near Red Barn Lane. Toll paddock was the former portion 34 in the parish of Wallan Wallan purchased by Patrick Hanna in 1859. This combined information appears to corroborate that the Wallan Wallan Tollgate did indeed stand adjacent to Red Barn Lane and that its location was at the junction of Sydney Road and Red Barn Lane (and it’s continuation known as Laffan’s Lane)

South-Eastern corner of "Toll" paddock near Red Barn Lane
South-Eastern corner of “Toll” paddock near Red Barn Lane

Red Barn Lane looking from the Wallan entry/exit ramp towards the Hume Freeway
Red Barn Lane looking from the Wallan entry/exit ramp towards the Hume Freeway

Red Barn Lane is no longer in use today and was divided by the Hume Freeway when the Wallan to Broadford section was opened in 1976. The Lane is located to the right of the orange square indicating the tollgate below and forming part of the border of Wallan in the pictures below.

To find the location of the Tollgate today, look for the green road sign near a row of trees on the left as you enter Wallan from the Hume Freeway. Just past here, the road bends to the right (where the cars are in the picture below). At this point you will see the boundary fence of “Toll” paddock. It is here where the tollgate once stood. Between the trees and the boundary fence is Laffan’s Lane which is marked upon the hand-drawn map provided by the Laffan family.

Whilst there were no businesses operating at the tollgate as was the case with Tollbar corner, there were however some within close vicinity. Just around the bend and down the hill on the left was the Inverlochy Castle Hotel owned by Mr Laffan. The remains of the woolshed are still visible today.

Inverlochy Castle Hotel in its heyday with John Laffan as proprietor
Inverlochy Castle Hotel in its heyday with John Laffan as proprietor

An advertisement from The Age newspaper on May 13th, 1858 provides details into a store and butcher and baker business that stood opposite the hotel:

“… immediately opposite The Inverlochy Hotel, Distant from Melbourne about twenty seven miles. There is erected on this land an excellent store, with house attached. Also, a good and substantial butcher’s shop detached, with strong storeroom and cellar, a capital bricked well, an excellent bakehouse with furniture and boiler, a substantial three-stall stable, with loft over capable of holding five tons hay; chaff house, fowl house, piggeries, sheep yard, well paved milking yard, a large substantial stock and slaughter yard, and all other necessaries capable of carrying on an extensive butcher, baker, and general store business.”

An entry in the Donnybrook and Wallan Wallan Road District Assessment book from 1864 shows that Thomas Hall operated a shop near the Inverlochy Castle hotel, and of which W. McLeod (also spelled as Macleod) was the owner.

Donnybrook and Wallan Wallan Road District Assessment book showing a house and shop near the Hotel of J. Laffan
Donnybrook and Wallan Wallan Road District Assessment book entry from 1864 showing a house and shop near the hotel of J. Laffan

The below map provides an overview of the area surrounding the tollgate including the “check-gate in connexion”, the Inverlochy Castle Hotel and the Butcher and Baker opposite, Mr Laffan’s paddock through which a quantity of quarried stone (possibly from the quarries near the Volcanic Hills) was taken to evade the toll, Hanna’s Swamp and Laffan’s Lane and Red Barn Lane.

Overview of area surrounding the Wallan Wallan Tollgate
Overview of area surrounding the Wallan Wallan Tollgate

Conclusion

The Wallan Wallan Tollgate was in use from 1857 until 1876 and during this period filled the coffers used towards the maintenance and improvement of roads.

For people such as P. J. Martin and Gilbert Handasyde, the Wallan Wallan Tollgate was their debut into toll-keeping and they continued throughout the years as large players in the industry. For others such as John Dwyer, Patrick Hanna, Edmund Cotter and David Newell, they became toll-keeper of the Wallan Wallan Tollgate in the midst or end of their toll-keeping career. Of these, Patrick Hanna was more notable person to make his mark upon Wallan by purchasing land opposite the tollgate and by employing John Clancy to collect the tolls on his behalf. For those remaining, their toll-keeping stint lasted only 1 or 2 years and there are no further records of them towards any great deeds or contributions they offered to society. But regardless of their background, social standing or success as a toll-keeper, or otherwise – there can be no doubt that all toll-keepers of the Wallan Wallan Tollgate played an important role in its continued operation for 19 years.

We have learned that the location of the tollgate is directly on the border of Wallan. One may even say that it is the gateway which leads to learning about the history of Wallan. At the 27 mile mark as you travelled from Melbourne you would reach the Wallan Wallan Tollgate and begrudgingly pay your toll. To the right was Red Barn Lane which Red and Ellen Kelly (parents of Ned Kelly) used to travel from the homestead of Ellen’s parents and then onward to Melbourne where they eloped. Slightly further down Sydney Road you could get a meal and rest yourself and your horses at the Inverlochy Castle Hotel. Afterwards, you could purchase some wares from the Baker and Butcher across the road, owned by William Macleod of Mac’sfield. You could then venture down Sydney Road into the township of Wallan and further whet your appetite and thirst at a multitude of pubs. What an amazing time and place Wallan must have been during this era!

Sadly, these times and places including the tollgate are no longer as they once were. We know very little about the Wallan Wallan Tollgate itself but is reasonable to assume the tollgate and the sign stating tolls payable were made from wood, the gate hinges made from iron and fastened with a chain and padlock. Whilst it doubtful we shall ever know further details, nothing every truly dies or is gone; instead it is transformed into something else. The dirt upon which the horses and carriages trod still makes up the road for the Wallan entry/exit ramp. The wood from the tollgate and sign has rotted and returned to mother nature, or if they were instead cast upon a fire and burnt their ashes now enrich the soil. The iron from the hinges, chain and padlock will most likely have been smelt into something new, or indeed may still exist in some form.

Whilst we may not be able to see or touch the tollgate, it surely isn’t gone or has been forgotten – and what greater testament to this fact than you, dear reader! Your new-found knowledge and marvel of the Wallan Wallan Tollgate shall allow it to exist for just that little bit longer.


References

1 https://heritage.darebinlibraries.vic.gov.au/article/589

2 https://researchdata.edu.au/rate-books-records-vprs-2337/158365

3 https://www.planning.vic.gov.au/resource-library/incorporated-documents/mitchell/mith-C113-Mitchell-Shire-Heritage-Study-Amendment-C56-Heritage-Citations-April-2014-amended-2016.PDF

4 ibid.

5 Phone discussion between Connors Roberts and one of his contacts.

6 Central Roads Board, Minute No. 2558

7 https://heritage.darebinlibraries.vic.gov.au/article/589

8 Victoria Government Gazette no. 91 – July 13th, 1858.

9 Victoria Government Gazette no. 9 – January 21st, 1859. Victoria Government Gazette no. 16 – February 1st, 1861. Victoria Government Gazette no. 20 – February 14th, 1862. Victoria Government Gazette no. 38 – March 28th, 1862. Victoria Government Gazette no. 90 – August 1st, 1862. Victoria Government Gazette no. 15 – February 10th, 1863.

10 Victoria Government Gazette no. 9 – January 21st, 1859.

11 Victoria Government Gazette no. 86 – June 3rd, 1859.

12 Victoria Government Gazette no. 9 – January 21st, 1859. Victoria Government Gazette no. 16 – February 1st, 1861.

13 Victoria Government Gazette no. 16 – February 1st, 1861.

14 Victoria Government Gazette no. 16 – February 1st, 1861. Victoria Government Gazette no. 20 – February 14th, 1862.

15 Victoria Government Gazette no. 20 – February 14th, 1862.

16 Victoria Government Gazette no. 38 – March 28th, 1862.

17 Victoria Government Gazette no. 90 – August 1st, 1862.

18 Victoria Government Gazette no. 15 – February 10th, 1863.

19 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Stephenson

20 https://streetsofsouthmelbourne.wordpress.com/2007/02/02/hanna

21 https://clanhannay.org/patrick-hanna-mp-australian-engineer-politician-1819-1890

22 https://streetsofsouthmelbourne.wordpress.com/2007/02/02/hanna

23 Victoria Government Gazette no. 91 – July 13th, 1858.

24 Register Book of Crown Grants and Land Title – Book 87 Number 547

25 The Argus newspaper – February 17th, 1860

26 Victoria Government Gazette no. 16 – February 1st, 1861.

27 ibid.

28 The Ovens and Murray Advertiser newspaper – July 2nd, 1864.

29Victoria Government Gazette no. 20 – February 14th, 1862.

30 Victoria Government Gazette no. 15 – February 10th, 1863.

31 https://clanhannay.org/patrick-hanna-mp-australian-engineer-politician-1819-1890

32 Donnybrook and Wallan Wallan Road District Assessment book.

33 The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper – September 13th, 1890

34 Victoria Government Gazette no. 20 – February 14th, 1862.

35 Donnybrook and Wallan Wallan Road District Assessment book.

36 ibid.

37 Victoria Government Gazette no. 90 – August 1st, 1862.

38 Victoria Government Gazette no. 15 – February 10th, 1863.

39 Donnybrook and Wallan Wallan Road District Assessment book.

40 Victoria Government Gazette no. 38- March 28th, 1862.

41 Victoria Government Gazette no. 90 – August 1st, 1862.

42 Donnybrook and Wallan Wallan Road District Assessment book.

43 Kilmore Free Press newspaper- December 18th, 1873.