Early 1900s

2: Dunrobin Store/Post Office

William McKay purchased Section E Allotments 1 & 2 at the Learmonth land sales in 1859 & 1860.
He had already built the Stag Hotel on Allotment 1 and after purchasing the land, built cottages and shops, with dwellings attached. One of the cottages was used as the first police station and from the rate notices of 1863, we see the shops were rented for other businesses.

With more people moving into the town following the land sales, a Post Office opened as Lake Learmonth in 1858 with William McKay as Post Master. He would have run the PO with a small trading business from the hotel.

By 1861 it was reported in the Ballarat Star that William McKay was erecting a very handsome structure of brick and bluestone, for the purpose of a Store and Post Office. The store known as Dunrobin Store still carries the name from Dunrobin Castle in Golspie, County Sutherland Scotland, near to the original McKay family home. Around the same time he built his family a villa residence described as one of the finest in the township.

June 2008

Dunrobin Castle named

Dunrobin Castle, Sutherland Scotland
after which the Dunrobin Store was named

Until his death in 1870 William not only held the position of Post Master but, like many other district men, was also contracting for the District Road Board, later the Shire of Ballarat, in building roads, bridges etc. as the town and district developed.

It is believed William would have had a manager to run the store while he was contracting and Mrs McKay raising the family.
An advertisement of 1869, when Arthur Staunton was probably managing for the McKay's showed how useful the business would have been for the local population –
Goods for Sale: A choice of drapery, crockery, groceries, ironmongery, chaff cut, grain etc. Registrar of Births, Deaths and Vaccinations and Agent for the Ballarat Mutual Employment Institute. Arthur Staunton – Dunrobin Store - Learmonth.

From 1870, William's wife Margaret, daughters Grace and Isabella each held the position of Post Mistress. In 1891, the Post Office and Store were sold to the Spiers family who had run the store for some years prior .
In about 1917 the business was purchased by Mr Crosthwaite.

Researched and written by LDHS Member,

Mrs Claudette Crick.

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