SongWays Ranger Barracks
Ranger Barracks 1886 and Dan Murphy's 2017 - Source: Ballarat Ranger Military Museum & Georgina Williams
The Ballarat Ranger Barracks was the biggest barracks without internal supporting poles in the Southern Hemisphere when it was completed in 1886. This timber building was still in use as Ranger Barracks until 2001. The two Ballarat Barracks were amalgamated into the new Ranger Barracks in 2003 (the other one was the 1957 building in Russell St near Victoria Park). Funnily enough, none of the three buildings were ever designed to be used as accomodation even though that's what the word 'barracks' means.
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1886 Ranger Barracks Sketch & 2 RVR Band, Source: Ballarat Ranger Military Museum
As well as regimental balls replete with live bands, which ran most years from around the 1920s to the early 2000s, the military had its own band, the 2 RVR (2nd Battalion of the Royal Victoria Regiment) who rehearsed and played here regularly.
Here is the 2 RVR band during the Freedom Of Entry to the City of Ballarat in November 1983.
Listen to the rare recording of music from 1959, most likely recorded in the Barracks themselves, with the band then called the 8/7 Infantry Battalion Band. I'm 95 is the Battalion March. Night in June was part of the band's repertoire at the time, with bandmaster H.L. Rasmussen.
Night in June
Freedom of Entry to the City of Ballarat November 1983 Source: Ballarat Ranger Military Museum
‘The tradition of Freedom of Entry originates in medieval times, when the city would show its trust in a group of men-at-arms by allowing them to enter their walls without being disarmed. Nowadays the right of the Freedom of Entry is a symbolic mark of honour and support from a city to a military unit.’ (Andrew Ragless, Navy Daily, 30 May 2016).
During Freedom of Entry to City of Ballarat November 1983, Source: Ballarat Ranger Military Museum
Military music and music for regimental balls was not the only music-making in the barracks; it was hired out from time to time for public performances. Here are some pictures of a group performing improvised music staged as a chess game in the Drill Hall.
Ranger Barracks and Strategic Arts Live Chess Game, Source: Ballarat Ranger Military Museum & Merle Hathaway
Now you can drop in to the old Barracks on your way out on a Friday night and pick up a bottle of wine at Dan Murphy's. Look out for a glazed lantern skylight and the 22-metre floor space spanned now by metal trusses, originally timber.
Dan Murphy's 2017 Source: Georgina Williams