Dunnstown is a small village just outside Ballarat one hour from Melbourne nestled in the foothills of Mount Warrenheip.
It was named after Robert Dunn who established the Dunnstown Distillery in 1854 which is famous for being the first Irish Whisky Distillery in Australia.
With its rich volcanic soil from Mount Warrenheip, it attracted many Irish settlers to the area who migrated after the great famine. The settlers farmed the land, raising their families with mixed farming, mainly growing potatoes.
Many of those families still live in Dunnstown to this day, with potatoes still grown in abundance in the area.
Because of its Irishness, Dunnstown was also known as “Little Ireland” in its day, so much so that the local pub was called The Shamrock.
Brind's Distillery Dunnstown
During the 1860s Robert Dunn established the distillery beside a spring on the south slopes of Mount Warrenheip. It was soon taken over by a chemist, Henry Brind, and by 1893 Brind’s distillery employed nearly one third of those working in the distillery industry in Victoria. By 1894 it was the only distillery in Victoria where pot-still Irish whisky was made. During the 1920s the plant was taken over by Federal Distilleries Pty Ltd. Some of the buildings are now used for the bottling of the local spring water.
The former Brind’s Distillery is historically significant as a complex of buildings representing the nineteenth century processes adopted for distilling whisky, and also the growth and evolution of the distilling industry in built form.
The former Brind’s Distillery is significant as Victoria’s last surviving example of a pot still distillery. The availability of grain from surrounding farms, an abundant supply of fresh spring water, proximity to the railway for transport of its products and the large population concentration of nearby Ballarat, all contributed to the siting, establishment and success of Brind’s venture.
The utilitarian buildings are representative examples of industrial structures of their time, and together form an intact and uncommon example of a distillery complex.
The Shamrock Hotel
In its heyday, Dunnstown boasted 7 pubs and with the closing of the Olive Branch Hotel in 1957, the Shamrock Hotel was the only pub that remained in the town, and still is to this day.
The Shamrock was built in the 1860s,around the same time as the Distillery. It was destroyed by fire in 1904 and the existing pub was rebuilt in 1905.
Not only serving the local workers from the distillery and the sawmills of Dunnstown, it was a popular meeting place for the itinerant potato pickers working in the area at the time. The Shamrock being situated on the Melbourne Rd, which was the main thoroughfare from Melbourne to Ballarat in its day, was also a very popular waterhole for travellers passing through.
One can only imagine the characters that have walked through the doors throughout the years.
A beautiful building which has maintained its character from years gone by, the pub will open for breakfast for campers and for those who wish on St Patrick’s Day morning.