The town was formerly known as Snake Gully. Many parts of this rural community have the remains of gold diggings from the Victorian gold rush of the mid 1800s.
The district has an important historic gold mining past and produced some colourful people during that heyday. Among the notable was John Scarlett (1824-?), a Scottish miner. Scarlett was involved in all things associated with writing to the newspapers, calling meetings and voicing his opinions. Originally a dry miner he advocated rights for this type of operator, then on acquiring access to water he became and advocate for wet miners to the exculusion of the dry operators. He stood for mining board elections and then Victorian parliament in 1859. He appears in two historical works of the district; Woods, Beechworth and more so in O’Brien, Shenanigans. Scarlett eventually became the Secretary for the local roads board. No known photo of him exists. In her book, Woods, termed Scarlett the ‘Nine Mile Warrior’. O’Brien’s work with the local 1850s papers uncovered an advertisement against Scarlett and lots of doggerel verse: a local paper christened Scarlett a ‘water squatter’.
The gold mining carried out in the district involved sluicing operations. During the gold era, the Stanley region comprised a higher proportion of miners from Scotland, in comparison to other localties in the surrounding area.
There is now many enjoyable activities to do at this lovable location. The town centre is packed with such buildings as a school, general store, pub, primary school, fire shed, church, cricket oval, town hall and apple shed.