Historical information

This sepia coloured photograph show the image of the former Bank of Australasia in Warrnambool. The two-storey building was built for the bank on the corner of Timor and Kepler Streets and opened there for business in 1860. It is now one of the City's Historic Buildings.

The Bank of Australasia was incorporated by Royal Charter of England in March 1834. It came to Australia on 14th December 1835, opening in Sydney. The Acting Superintendent of the Bank of Australasia in Sydney at that time was David Charters McArthur. He was Superintendent from 1867-to 1876. The Melbourne branch of the Bank of Australasia opened on 28th August 1838 in a two-roomed brick cottage on the north side of Little Collins Street. Two huge mastiff dogs were kept in the backyard and let loose at night to guard the bank. The government also provided an armed military sentinel. Due to the bank's rapid growth, a new building for the Melbourne branch was opened in 1840 at 75 Collins Street West. By 1879 the bank had been upgraded to a magnificent two-storey building on the corners of Collins and Queens Streets, with the entry on Collins Street.

In 1951 the Bank of Australasia amalgamated with the Union Bank to form the Australia and New Zealand Bank, now known as the ANZ. Then in 1970, the ANZ merged with both the ES&A and the London Bank of Australia to form the ANZ Banking Group Limited. The ANZ Banking Group Ltd kindly donated a variety of historic items from the Bank of Australasia.


In 1854 Warrnambool had two banks, the Union Back and the Bank of Australasia. Later, completely different bank businesses opened; in 1867 the National Bank of Australasia, then in 1875 the Colonial Bank of Australasia. The original Warrnambool branch of the Bank of Australasia was established in July 1854, and operated from a leased cottage on Merri Street, close to Liebig Street. The bank later bought a stone building previously erected by drapers Cramond & Dickson on the corner of Timor and Gibson Streets. Samuel Hannaford was a teller and then Manager at the Warrnambool branch from 1855 to 1856 and the Warrnambool Council chose that bank for its dealings during 1856-57. In 1859 Roberts & Co. was awarded the contract to build the new Bank of Australasia branch for the sum of £3,000. The land was on a sand hill on the northeast corner of Timor and Kepler Streets and had been bought in 1855 from investor James Cust. The new building opened on May 21, 1860. The bank continued to operate there until 1951 when it merged with the Union Bank to form the ANZ Bank, which continued operating from its Liebig Street building. Warrnambool City Council purchased the former Bank of Australasia building in 1971 and renovated it, then on 3rd December 1973 it was officially opened as the Art Gallery by Cr. Harold Stephenson and Gallery Director John Welsh. The Gallery transferred to the purpose-built building in Liebig Street in 1986 and the old bank building is now the Gallery club.

Staff at the Bank of Australasia in Warrnambool included the following men but others were also involved: Samuel Hannaford, Teller then Manager from 1855-1856; W H Palmer, Manager from January 1857 until November 1869 when the Teller Basil Spence was promoted to Manager; H B Chomley, Manager from April 1873 and still there in 1886; A Butt, Manager in 1895-1904; J R McCleary Accountant and Acting Manager for 12 months, until 1900; A Kirk, Manager 1904; J Moore, staff until his transfer to Bendigo in December 1908; J S Bath was Manager until 1915; C C Cox, Manager until April 1923; Richard C Stanley, Manager 1923 to April 1928.


The photograph is significant historically for its connection with the Bank of Australasia. The early Australian bank was established in 1834 by Royal Charter and opened in Sydney, Australia, in Sydney in 1835. The bank had many Australian offices in November 1877, particularly on the east and south coasts. Victoria had 45 percent of all Offices.

The photograph has local historical significance for its association with the Warrnambool Bank of Australasia, which was established early in Warrnambool's history. It was Warrnambool Council’s first bank. The bank continued to operate until the organisation's merger in 1951 when it became the ANZ Bank Group of today. The Bank was an integral part of the growth of local commerce and the community.

Physical description

Black and white (or sepia) rectangular photograph, landscape orientation. Image of a two-storey building on a street corner. It is the former Bank of Australasia, Warrnambool, on the corner of Timor and Kepler Streets that was built in 1860. The reverse has a round, serrated-edged red label with an inscription, covered in opaque tape, plus four lines of handwritten text. There are several pin holes through the photograph.

Inscriptions & markings

Label with: "AH2 2 / W.BOOL"
Writing in pen: "D. K. Frew / --- / ---- / ----"