No. 671 - Dundas - The Wesleyan-Methodist Church

Dundas was a mining township located about 5 kilometres east of Zeehan in Western Tasmania. Silver was discovered in the Mount Dundas area in 1890. The Mount Dundas Post Office was opened by the end of 1890 and the settlement’s name was shortened to Dundas in 1892. Dundas’ population peaked at around 1000 in the mid 1890s but gradually declined over the next three decades until the settlement was swallowed up by the bush.

A Wesleyan Methodist church was established soon after the Mount Dundas settlement was founded. In August 1891 a tender was advertised in the Zeehan and Dundas Herald calling for the erection of a temporary church. Almost three months later a second advertisement announced the opening of the church on Sunday 26 October. No account of the official opening seems to have survived.

While there are a few reports in the Zeehan and Dundas Herald concerning the church’s activities, the only report of interest comes from 1910 when the church was badly damaged in a storm:

“It has been found that the damage sustained by the Methodist Church at Dundas during the gale on Friday night is considerable. Much expense will be involved in putting the building into a proper state of repair. On Monday the furniture, organ, etc., were removed in case the building should collapse. Large spars were placed outside to stay it for the time, and the Rev. A. Rogers made arrangements to have the building placed in a state of safety almost immediately. Work will probably be commenced on it this morning…”.

Methodist services were held in Thurstan’s Hall until the church was repaired. However, the continuing decline of the township’s population meant that church’s days were numbered. In July 1919 the Launceston Examiner reported that “arrangements had been completed for the purchase of a Methodist church at Dundas, to be erected at Oonah”. In January 1920 the Burnie Methodist Circuit Report noted that a church at Oonah “had been re-erected and successfully opened”. In 1922 the name of the settlement around the Oonah Road Siding was changed to Highclere and the old Dundas Church became the Highclere Methodist church.

The church closed in the 1960’s but remained standing until 2010 when it was pulled down. A Google street view of the church in 2008 shows the church in a very poor condition. Two years later a Google street view image shows the church reduced to a pile of planks, thus bringing to an end a long history which had begun in the mining fields of Mount Dundas.


Dundas in 1891 - J Bishop-Osborne Photo - State Library New South Wales - out of copyright

The Dundas church at its new location at Highclere - photo (2007) State Library Tasmania (NS3159-1-381)

Notice of Tender - Zeehan and Dundas Herald 1891

Zeehan and Dundas Herald

The last image of the church - Google street view 2008

The church reduced to a pile of planks - Google Street view 2010

Sources:

Zeehan and Dundas Herald, Monday 17 August 1891, page 3
Zeehan and Dundas Herald, Wednesday 21 October 1891, page 3
Zeehan and Dundas Herald, Monday 25 April 1910
Zeehan and Dundas Herald, Wednesday 27 April 1910, page 2
Examiner, Friday 4 July 1919, page 3
Examiner, Thursday 23 October 1919, page 3
Advocate, Thursday 15 January 1920, page 4

Tilley, Wilberton 1891, The wild west of Tasmania : being a description of the silver fields of Zeehan and Dundas, Evershed Bros, Melbourne





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