PHOTO: The Bendigo Hotel in Dunolly – which has also been used a courthouse for a murder trial – during the Victorian gold rush days.

Last drinks were called at Dunolly’s Bendigo Hotel almost 100 years ago but locals believe the pub with no beer – and no roof in parts – has the potential to be the centrepiece of the town.

Before being boarded up for the past century, the historic Bendigo Hotel served gold rush prospectors and Cobb & Co coach passengers and was also used as a courthouse for a murder trial. There are even rumours the building is haunted.

Despite minimal maintenance being carried out, the 164-year-old former pub at 82 Broadway is for private sale. Kate Ashton, Ballarat Real Estate’s Maryborough sales manager, said she was confident it would make the $1.5 million asking price.

82 Broadway, Dunolly VIC 3472
82 Broadway, Dunolly VIC 3472

“It’s a definitely a Grand Designs or Restoration Australia project,” Ms Ashton said.

Ms Ashton estimated it would take another $2 million to restore the building, which she said would make a good B&B, information centre or co-working space.

The hotel was built in 1857 during the Victorian gold rush. The largest nugget in the world, the 69-kilogram Welcome Stranger, was found nearby in Moliagul. It was weighed at the bank across the road and it’s likely the prospectors had a few drinks to celebrate at the Bendigo Hotel.

“I’ve lived in the town for 36 years and I had no idea what an amazing building was behind the facade,” Ms Ashton said.

82 Broadway, Dunolly
If the walls could talk – 82 Broadway, Dunolly. Photo: Ballarat Real Estate

The property is listed with Heritage Victoria and is considered to be one of the most intact of the goldfields hotels, with original wallpaper and gas light-fittings.

It served as a Cobb & Co station until the railway arrived in 1874. Travellers could book hot or cold baths and accommodation, or order food.

The population of Dunnolly was almost 12,000 during the gold rush. Today about 800 people live there.

82 Broadway, Dunolly
A portion of the roof will need replacing at Dunolly’s heritage-listed former Bendigo Hotel. Photo: Ballarat Real Estate