The ‘old’ Ranger Barracks under construction 1885
BALLARAT’S MILITARY HISTORY
On 3rd November 1854 the Victorian Colonial Government passed the Volunteer Act (1854). Immediately the Melbourne Volunteer Rifle Regiment was formed, but in January 1856, the Regiment was changed, following a vote of the members, from an infantry unit to the Victoria Volunteer Artillery Regiment.
Ballarat was not far behind, raising its own infantry unit, the Ballarat Volunteer Rifle Regiment, in 1858. Three weeks later, Bendigo also raised an infantry unit. With a re-organisation in the Victorian Defence Force in 1863 the Ballarat unit became known as the Ballarat Volunteer Rangers.
The volunteers were disbanded in 1883 and a Part-paid Militia force commenced in 1884. The following year construction of a Drill Hall was commenced in Ballarat. It was completed in 1886. This Drill Hall (also known as barracks or depot) remained the home of the Ballarat militia (now Army Reserve) until 2001. The name Ranger Barracks was given to the Drill Hall in 1958 on the centenary of the raising of the Ballarat volunteers.
The Ballarat infantry unit has had many changes in name, and has had many country Victorian and southern NSW towns attached to it since 1858 – the one constant in the unit being Ballarat. Today the name of the Ballarat infantry unit is the 8th/7th Battalion, The Royal Victoria Regiment (8/7 RVR).
The Ballarat Ranger Military Museum was opened in 1989 and has a Charter to hold, display and maintain the Unit Historical Collection of 8/7 RVR and its predecessor units and the military history of the Ballarat area.
Since 2008 the Ballarat Ranger Military Museum has been located at the rear of the ‘new’ Ranger Barracks (above) that was opened in 2003.
Incoming Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Jim Mack receives the Commanding Officer’s baton from Outgoing Commanding Officer Lt Col Ted Lynes in late 1981.
Former Ballarat Militia man Lieutenant William Dunstan, 7th Battalion, AIF, receives the Victoria Cross in 1916.