The creation of a diocese: Faith, Gold, and the early pioneer priests in western Victoria

This display investigates some of the first catholic priests who worked in the surrounding goldfields and within the western district of Victoria. It explores the formation of the Catholic Diocese of Ballarat and the installation of Bishop Michael O’Connor in 1874 .

The formation of the Catholic Diocese of Ballarat on March 30, 1874, and the installation of Bishop Michael O’Connor on May 17, 1874 as first Bishop of Ballarat arose, from the humblest of beginnings. From the early 1830s, immigration was instrumental in bringing thousands of catholic migrants to Port Phillip Bay. Over the following decades, many settled to western Victoria in search of gold and to start a new life. To support the catholic population, priests from Ireland and other parts of the world were encouraged to migrate for the Melbourne mission. In recognition of the 150th anniversary of this diocese, this small display highlights the lives of some of these pioneer priests including Fr. Smyth who assisted Peter Lalor during the Eureka Stockade. The display further examines the first bishops who worked and traveled in Ballarat and western Victoria between 1850-1874.

Event dates

Event Details

5 Lyons Street South, Ballarat Central, Victoria
Entry fees:
By donation
Attendance limit:
Limit of 10 per tour.
Onsite facilities:
Other things
you need to know:
On street parking available on Lyon St Sth. Close to cafes and restaurants. The archives are wheel chair accessible.