These days we know Green and Dock Lakes, located 12km south-west of Horsham, as a nice place for a picnic, swim or a game of football.
But from the 1870s through to the 1920s, it was a thriving community. It had a post office, a couple of stores, a blacksmith, two churches, a school, many homes and two hotels.
MCCLOUNAN'S GREEN LAKE HOTEL
James McClounan arrived in the gold rush years and had some success. He became a builder of civil works, bridges in particular. He married Mary Ann Foster in Stawell and began raising a family there before moving to the Green Lake area around 1867, when he was 35. He established a farm and built a hotel in 1868 on part of his land about 150 metres to the west of East Road, at the eastern end of the Green Lake settlement. Thus, he was in a good position to serve the large numbers of people travelling to the Wimmera seeking cheap land after the Victorian government passed the land acts of the 1860s.
Travel in those days was not easy. The original route to Horsham from the east was via Glenorchy, Longerenong and Dooen. Roads as we understand them did not exist and the shorter route through Dadswells Bridge was impassable in winter, except for those on foot. It was for these weary travellers that the hotels at Green Lake were established.
McClounan also owned one of the stores at Green Lake, located opposite the hotel. Later, he gradually purchased the other commercial buildings, William Selle's smithy, and the other hotel, The Mountain View, after it had lost its licence. He also owned a flour mill at Lubeck and continued to operate his contracting business as well as run a farm.
His wife, Mary Ann, died in 1873, leaving James with a large family. His younger sister, Janet, moved to Green Lake to manage the hotel and keep house. In 1883, James decided to lease out the hotel and land. Advertising at the time described it as having eight bedrooms - six available for guests - and good stables. The leaseholder, John Francis Potter from the nearby South Brighton Station, lasted less than a year and James and Janet were back in the hotel business. John Potter did introduce horse racing to Green Lake, and James continued the tradition throughout the 1880s.
The hotel was de-licensed in 1888 with James, Janet and family continuing to live there. The hotel was completely destroyed by fire on December 15, 1891. Fortunately, it was well covered by insurance. In early 1892, James died before he could rebuild, leaving his estate to two of his sons and to Janet.
Janet constructed a new store and lived there with her daughter, Annie. Janet died in 1926, leaving the store to Annie, who married Harry Pearson. They continued living there until Harry's death in 1948, when Annie went to Melbourne. The property was bought by Robert Blake, who rented it out for a few years to the Grayson family before converting it to a grain storage facility. Regrettably, the building was progressively vandalised. The decision to have it demolished was made in the mid-1960s. It is still owned by descendants of Robert Blake.
KELLY'S MOUNTAIN VIEW HOTEL
John Kelly was a bit of a lad. He was first cousin to Ned Kelly's father, "Red" Kelly. Emigrating from Ireland in the 1850s, he soon found himself a guest of Her Majesty in Pentridge Prison for housebreaking and theft in February 1854. Moving to the west of the state, he had several sons to Ann Arthur before marrying Catherine Regan (or Ryan) and raising a second family with her.
Enjoying a drink or two, he decided to set up a hotel at Green Lake in 1874 when he was 47. He established the Mountain View Hotel at the western end of Green Lake, about 200 metres north-west of the present-day boat ramp. This was at the peak of the land boom in the Wimmera, so there was plenty of passing trade. It was not too long before the licensing board discovered he may not be the ideal character to run a hotel, so John transferred the licence to his oldest son, William, who had a clean record.
In March 1877, his next eldest boys, John and Thomas Kelly felt like a drink so carried out a home invasion of McClounan's hotel, terrorising Janet and her young child while consuming a bottle of brandy each. They had their own chance to enjoy Her Majesty's hospitality at Ararat Prison.
After only three years' operation, the Mountain View Hotel was delicensed. A police detective's report dated November 1878 described the hotel as a "grog shanty, which has been a terror to the district". William Kelly, the nominal owner of the hotel was compelled to sell it in 1879. James McClounan was the purchaser. John Kelly moved into farming near Beulah, where he died in 1901.
Evidence of the original village of Green Lake is now sparse. The site of the Mountain View Hotel was completely obliterated when the Western Highway was re-aligned and upgraded in the 1950s. Ruins of Janet McClounan's original home and store still exist, as does the Green Lake cemetery, but little else remains.
The authors of this article wish to acknowledge the assistance of the Wimmera Association for Genealogy.