House hunting

Wondering who has lived in your house in Colac and District and when it was built?

Land and house documents may give you more of an indication of where and how your ancestors lived their daily lives. From the resources at CDFHG you may be able to find:

  • when the land was first occupied by European settlers
  • the specific property that an ancestor or person of interest lived on, and
  • the people and businesses who have owned or occupied the address over time.

This guide is suitable for properties within the township of Colac and some areas of the Colac Otway Shire.

Resources for Colac and District properties

  • Colac Shire Rate books 1863–1938 – CADinfo database
  • Post Office Directories, Colac, 1888 – 1914 [Print]
  • Victoria Post Office directory 1904 [Print]
  • Telephone and Service Directories, Colac and district, 1975, 1995 – 2008 [Print]
  • Parish maps [Digital] [Print] and Colac overhead photos [Digital]
  • Electoral rolls, Colac and district– 1908, 1925, 1946, 1977. [Print] (Other dates available on
  • Voters’ rolls, Shire of Colac – Corangamite 1968 – 2001, various ridings and years [Print]
  • Trade directory of Colac and Winchelsea 1956 [Print]
  • CDFHG House name database [Digital]
  • Duty Called records. [Digital] See also National Archives Australia Defence Force Service Records
  • Victoria – Sands & McDougall’s Melbourne Suburban and Country Directory 1904 [Print].
  • Historic homes of Colac and district, by Keith Chambers
  • Street names of Colac, ed, Ida and Andrew McIntosh
  • Land Titles [Powerpoint presentation], Joan Hunt 2013
  • Property titles (small CDFHG collection)

Starting your research


  • The Manners-Sutton street name, west of Corangamite Street, changed in 1941. That means if you are researching a current property at 401 Murray Street in records before 1941, that property may have another number and with the street name Manners-Sutton.
  • Other street names that have changed over time or have been introduced after 1940 are Queens Avenue, Moet Street, Hamilton Street, McGonigal Street (formerly Mill St), Fenwick Street, Clark Street (formerly Forest St), Marriner Street (formerly Prince Highway), Dalton Street (formerly Prince Highway), Darcy Street (formerly Saunders St).
  • No street numbers are shown in 1927 electoral roll, and only some are shown in the 1934, so they may only have been introduced during this time period.
  • If a property has been subdivided in recent years, the historical land title from Landata will only go back to the subdivision time. Earlier information can be gleaned using a Folio and Volume number search at the Land Titles office.

Online resources for the search include:

  • Landata – – search here for historical title and property certificates
  • PROV (Online) –
    • Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) will and probate papers – search a first name, surname and/or year in the search bar and refine results in the left panel. The inventory will list details (often including descriptions of houses and outbuildings) of properties owned by the deceased, and the general paperwork may give specific addresses for that person and also family, friends or others connected with the estate.
  • TROVE (Online) –
    • National Library of Australia’s Trove website – use quotation marks to do specific searches in Colac and regional papers (eg  Colac Herald, Colac Reformer) – Examples : for an address, “96 Queen Street”; for a House name  “Bellevue”; or a name and street (eg “Bell Queen“).
  • Google search – Use “quotation marks” to search a property, eg “96 Queen Street Colac”
  • Google maps – look up the address and use street view and satellite view functions to understand layout of property.
  • Victorian Electoral Rolls (
  • National Archives Australia WW1 records – addresses for servicemen and their next of kin (including when the family moved house if this was during enlistment) can be found in WW1 service records.

Tracing your house through time

As you have been using the resources above, you may already have come across surnames connected to your property/street of interest that aren’t your relatives or person of research. Recording the information can lead you to a small profile of neighbours over time. Using these names can also help to verify and gather more information about the property of interest.

Using Parish maps

CDFHG have both hard copy and digital parish maps. After about 1878, the rate records will give you the Section and Allotment to look for on the maps.
The Parish Maps record who bought the block from the Crown, the date the title was released, the size of the block in acres, roods & perches and the length of the frontage to the main street/s. The map only records the original purchase, not subsequent transactions between private individuals. Sometimes the map will record other information, such as the path of original waterways and the type of vegetation in the area.