Celebrating the 150th anniversary of the City of Sandhurst

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of the City of Sandhurst. 

Now known as Bendigo, the Borough of Sandhurst was formally declared a City on July 21, 1871 in the Victorian Government Gazette. 

To acknowledge this occasion and pay tribute to the many generations of civic leaders who have contributed to the city over that time, the City of Greater Bendigo will unveil a plaque and a collection of Mayoress portraits in the Bendigo Town Hall Council Chamber at the July 19 Council meeting. 

In doing so, the City also acknowledges central and urban Bendigo are on the land of the Dja Dja Wurrung people, who suffered profound disruption and displacement as a result of European settlement. 

Mayor Cr Dr Jennifer Alden said municipal government first began in 1855, four years after the discovery of gold. 

“Between 1851 and 1855, the goldfields districts were administered by the Government under the control of the Roads Board. A public meeting in 1855 recommended self-government and the Municipal District of Sandhurst was created, and the first Council comprising seven male Councillors was elected in 1856,” Cr Alden said. 

“As the population of Sandhurst grew, the number of Councillors expanded to nine and it became the Borough of Sandhurst in 1863 and a City in 1871 when its annual rate revenue exceeded £20,000. It formally became the City of Bendigo in 1891, as voted by ratepayers. 

“The main focus of the Council’s work at the time was ongoing requests and petitions to form local streets and guttering, installation of gas lamps for street lighting, and applications to mine for gold including an application to mine in Rosalind Park.

“It took more than 100 years for the first female Councillor to be elected. Christine Elizabeth Wiseman was elected unopposed in 1960 to fill a casual vacancy, after about 150 women from various organisations gathered together and agreed to support a woman into the role. 

“With an absence of women around the Council table, the role of Mayoress became a key way women were involved in municipal affairs. It was a critical but unsung role, with the title given to the wife or partner of the Mayor of the day. Mayoresses were generally involved in leading charity work, supporting the Mayor at civic functions and receptions and deputising for their husbands as needed.

“One of the City’s Early Learning Centres is named after our one of our best-known Mayoresses, Anne Galvin, who used her first speech as Mayoress to indicate her intentions to do something for mothers and children. Mrs Galvin went on to become the second woman ever elected to Council.

“It was a tradition in both the City of Sandhurst and Bendigo to frame a Mayoress portrait. So in honour of this 150th anniversary, the City would like to pay overdue recognition to the contribution of successive Mayoresses to the life of the City.

“When the City of Greater Bendigo was established the first Mayor was Megan Weston and the role of Mayoress began to fade out. Since that time there have been six female mayors and countless great female leaders in Greater Bendigo at various levels of government and in leading local organisations, agencies and community groups.”

As part of Local Government amalgamations in 1994, the City of Bendigo was abolished together with the municipalities of Eaglehawk, Huntly, Marong, Strathfieldsaye and McIvor and the City of Greater Bendigo was created in their place. 

Cr Alden said she hoped to pay tribute later in the year to the first female Councillor elected to each of the municipalities that now comprise the City of Greater Bendigo by displaying their photographs in the Council Chamber.

The City will also discuss with the Dja Dja Wurrung Traditional Owners if there are opportunities or projects that can further share this history through 2021/2022. 

The Mayoress portraits on display are:


Annie Irene Michelsen (nee Tussup) born Huntly (1870-1955).

Mayoress 1926/1927, 1935/1936, 1942/1943.

Wife of Cr John Andrew Michelsen OBE.

Pioneer in the field of social work and regarded as a woman of tremendous vitality and versatility. Known as an outstanding horse woman and breeder of standardbreds for harness racing. Member numerous sporting clubs and foundation president of the Bendigo Nurses Association.


Christina Annie Bennett (nee Williams) formerly of Daylesford (1879-1974)

Mayoress 1933/1934

Wife of Cr George Bennett.

As Mayoress she was said to have filled her position admirably. Her charity work was “particularly commendable”. The Bennetts were widely known for establishing Bennetts Arcade in Pall Mall.


Harriet Jane Staples (nee Whitford) born Clunes (1892-1959).

Mayoress 1934/1935, 1939/1940.

Wife of Cr Albert Staples.

The couple reinstituted the annual Mayoral Ball after an absence of many years.

A popular and highly respected Mayoress during her two terms.


Jemima ‘Mina’ Bolton (nee Vance) born White Hills (1866-1946).

Mayoress 1936/1937.

Wife of Cr William May Bolton.

Known as an ardent worker for charities including the Congregational Church Ladies Guild, Infant Health Centre and Children’s Welfare Department.


Hilda Robina Pethard (nee Leed) born Eaglehawk (1889-1966)

Mayoress 1940/1941, 1947/1948, 1951/1952.

Wife of Cr George Albert Pethard Jnr, whose parents founded the Tarax soft drink company.


Anne Edith Galvin (nee Ruby) OBE born Preston (1903-1987).

Mayoress 1944/1945.

Wife of Cr Leslie William ‘Bill’ Galvin.

One of Bendigo’s best-known charity workers, Anne Galvin also became the second woman elected to Bendigo City Council in 1968.

Achievements include – awarded an OBE in 1967 for community service, founding president of the Peter Harcourt Centre, Magistrate of the Children’s Court and instituted the City’s Meals on Wheels service. As President of the National Council of Women (Bendigo), she secured the appointment of the first two women police officers in 1956. She was also president of the committee that established Bendigo Creche, the first outside Victoria’s metropolitan area.

Bill Galvin was MLA Bendigo 1943-1964 and Deputy Premier 1952-1955.


Laura Jane Truscott (nee Baxter) born New South Wales (1880-1967).

Mayoress 1945/1946.

Wife of Cr Anthony Truscott Jnr. 

Before her term as Mayoress, Jane had not been prominent in public life but earned the respect of the community for her hard work and commitment to the role.


Elizabeth Enid Granger (nee Webster) born Eaglehawk (1906-1965).

Mayoress 1948/1949.

Wife of Cr Ernest Frederick Granger.

Honoured with a civic lunch at the end of their term.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Margaret Edith Lily Snell (nee White) born Durham UK (?-1991)

Mayoress 1955/1956, 1958-1960.

Wife of Cr Henry William (Bill) Snell.

First Mayoress to wear the gold Mayoress medallion, donated by Sir George Lansell, in 1956.


Source: Mayors of Bendigo 1856-2001, Betty May Jackman

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