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Celebrations for the 160th anniversary of Local Government
August 3, 2023

Thursday 10 August marks 160 years since the Borough of Sale was first proclaimed in 1863, marking the introduction of Local Government to the area.

President of the Sale Historical Society, Pauline Hitchins kindly shares the following historic details.

The Town of Sale was first declared in 1903 and became the City of Sale on 1 May 1950. The City of Sale merged with Maffra, Rosedale, Avon and parts of neighbouring Shires in 1994 to become the Shire of Wellington, or Wellington Shire Council to which it is known today.

The region’s first Mayor was Nehemiah Guthridge, a former Collins Street ‘Estate and General Agent’. Mr Guthridge moved to Sale in 1862 following a disastrous investment in private railway, taking over a business that became known as the Gippsland Hardware Company.

Guthridge had experience as a Melbourne City Councillor and politician, and was warmly welcomed by his new council. He was elected Mayor three more times and with the exception of a one year break, he served on Council until his death in 1878.

Nehemiah Guthridge was a leader in lakes shipping and involved in the establishment of the Wesleyan Church. He became a Trustee of the Gippsland Hospital and served as Treasurer of the North Gippsland Agricultural and Pastoral Society.

Guthridge is remembered through Guthridge Parade and Lake Guthridge in Sale. Lake Guthridge first named in his honour as a joke by his fellow Councillors who didn’t share in the foresight to consider its potential use as a recreational attraction.

With Foster Street in Sale the main business centre at the time, Council first met in an empty property until Council Chambers were built in 1866. The chambers and subsequent office extension in the 1880s were designed by local Architect, John Healthfield Pettit and are now the home of the Sale Museum. The building still boasts the original Council table and chairs, and Mayor’s room furnishings. The museum still holds a number of local government items including images of all Mayor’s up until the Shire of Wellington was formed in the mid 1990s.

Wellington Shire Council Mayor, Cr Ian Bye is delighted to share in this historic celebration, taking the opportunity to learn more about the region’s history.

“I thank Pauline from the Sale Historical Society for sharing this historical timeline with us, and I encourage the community to make a visit to the museum to dig a little bit deeper”.

“The Sale Museum is open from 1.30-4pm every Wednesday and Sunday and is a treasure trove of historical knowledge. Its volunteers are some of the most knowledgeable people in our part of Gippsland, and we thank them for their continued support of the museum and historical stories”.

The second district municipality was Avon Shire, first declared a Roads District on 13 September 1864, and then a Shire on 10 October 1865. Lemuel Bolden who had chaired the Roads Board became the first Shire President.

Originally part of Avon Shire, Maffra Shire was incorporated as a Shire in October 1875, and its first President was Henry Gordon Glassford.

Rosedale Shire in Incorporated as a Roads District on 26 February 1869, becoming a Shire on 17 February 1871. Donald McLeod led both the Roads Board and inaugural Council.

Please contact Pauline Hitchins, Sale Historical Society on 0437 29 69 25 with any questions.

Early Foster Street scene showing original Council Chambers (offices added1880s), now Sale Museum.

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