Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Ten oldest Hotel buildings in the Casey Cardinia area

Whenever  a town was established one of the earliest buildings erected was a Hotel and if you travel down to Melbourne to the inner suburbs - Carlton, Fitzroy, North Melbourne, South Melbourne, Collingwood etc then you would be aware that hotels were seemingly built on every street corner from the 1850s, 1860s onwards. It wasn't quite the same out here of course, but we did have  a number of Hotels built in the 1860s - the Limerick Arms at Nar Nar Goon, the Mornington Hotel and the Cranbourne Hotel at Cranbourne, Bourke's Hotel at Pakenham to name  a few. However, very few of these buildings are still here - there are still hotels on the site in some cases but the original buildings have been demolished. So  here are what I believe are the oldest Hotel buildings in the Casey Cardinia Region - if you think I am wrong, then let me know!

1857 - The Berwick Inn or Border Hotel is not only the oldest hotel but one of the oldest buildings in the region. The Hotel was established in 1857 by Robert Bain. The  original building consisted of the  triangular single storey part which is made of hand-made bricks from local clay. The two storey  sections were added in 1877 and 1887. Robert Bain and his wife, Susan (nee Stewart) whom he married in 1859, operated the Hotel together until he died on February 27, 1887. Susan then operated the Hotel until she passed away June 26, 1908. The Hotel has since had a number of owners but is still going strong. You can read more about the Bain family and the Hotel  here.


The Ranges Hotel,  Gembrook, 1940s or 50s. 
State Library of Victoria Image H32492/267

1902 - Ranges Hotel at Gembrook is the second oldest Hotel in the area and was built in 1902 - shortly after the arrival of the Fern Tree Gully and Gembrook Railway, as the Puffing Billy line is officially known, which opened on December 18, 1900.  The Berwick Shire Rate books list Jessey and Isabella Sykes as having a Hotel at Crown Allotment A11 in Gembrook from 1894. I have reproduced the entry, below.


Shire of Berwick Rate Books, 1884/85

However in The Argus of November 27, 1901 (reproduced above)  there was an application from Jane McMahon to obtain a licence for the premises 'about to be erected'. It seems likely therefore that a hotel was on the site from 1894 and that after the Railway line came through a new and bigger hotel was erected.


The Argus November 27 1901

To prove that McMahon's Hotel was actually The Ranges Hotel, this is a report of the sale of the Hotel and some land from John McMahon to Fred Pitt in 1904. Fred and Howard Pitt operated the Hotel until 1921 when it was taken over by John and Catherine Beacham who transferred the licence to Wolf Dorfman in February 1935. Dorfman transferred the licence to Daphne and Alfred McGregor in 1946

The Argus March 15, 1904


1915 - The Royal Hotel in Koo Wee Rup.  The Hotel was constructed for Dennis McNamara by Mr A. G Oliver  for the contract price of £3,305. The finished building was a ‘fine commodious building of nearly 30 rooms’, according to the Lang Lang Guardian, and ‘one of the finest edifices of the kind in Gippsland’. The rooms were fitted out by Mr McKee of the Royal Arcade ‘in a most up-to-date and luxurious manner’.  It was officially opened on Thursday, September 9, 1915. 

1915 - The Iona Hotel at Garfield  The first hotel in the town was opened in 1904 and was destroyed by fire in 1914. The existing hotel opened in 1915. The South Bourke and Mornington Journal  from May 27 1915 reported that the Shire of Berwick Health Inspector, Dr H. White, had inspected the Iona Hotel and he was pleased with the appointments and sanitation of the place and that no expense had been spared by the proprietors to make it all respects one of the best equipped hotels in the colony.


Iona Hotel at Garfield, shortly after opening.
Berwick Pakenham Historical Society photo


1924 - Railway Hotel in Bunyip -  The Hotel is also called Stacey's Hotel after Thomas Stacey. According to Call of the Bunyip - Thomas Stacey 'purchased the block of land where the Railway Hotel is situated' so I assume he built the original hotel on this site around 1890.  Call of the Bunyip says the Hotel was destroyed by fire in 1924, but an article in The Argus (see below) says that it was demolished in late 1923 - so not sure which is correct.  The existing building was opened in October 9 1924 (or it was possibly Oct 2 - I am not sure which 'Thursday afternoon' the report refers to.)

The Argus October 8 1923



The Age October 10, 1924

1924 - Motor Club Hotel (Kellys) in Cranbourne.  The Hotel began life as the Mornington Hotel around 1860. In about 1912 it was known as the Motor Club Hotel and in 1919 it was taken over by the Kelly family.  You can read more about this here. The existing hotel was built around 1924 - I am basing this on the valuation in the Cranbourne Shire Rate Books - in 1923/24 and 1924/25 the Net Annual Value was 240 pounds, in 1925/26 -it had leaped to 420 pounds and the next two years it was 400 pounds, so I believe the increase in rates was due to the erection of the new building. As the Local Government year used to run from October 1 to September 30 then the new building would have been erected between October 1924 and September 1925 to appear at the higher valuation in the 1925/26 year.

1927 - Gippsland Hotel (Top Pub) at Bunyip. There was a Gippsland Hotel in Bunyip from the mid 1880s owned by Laurence Finch, his daughter Sarah took over the licence around 1897. Sarah  married William Kraft who took over as the licensee and it was known as Kraft's Gippsland Hotel. On April 11, 1927  the Licensing Court approved the plans for the rebuilding of the Gippsland Hotel at Bunyip (see below)  It's interesting that it says that the Hotel was destroyed by fire, I haven't seen that anywhere else.

The Age April 13, 1927


1928 - Central Hotel at Beaconsfield  Janet and David Bowman opened a hotel on this site in 1855, it was called the Gippsland Hotel and later the Central Hotel. You can read more about the Bowman family and the hotel, here.  The existing  building dates from 1928. There was a Licencing Board hearing regarding the rebuilding of the hotel in September 1927 (see article below) and the new building work had to commence by February 1928, so I assume it was finished that year. The Cardinia Shire Heritage Study by Graeme Butler and Associates (1996) says that 'part of the earlier building may survive within the perimeter if this later structure.'


Report of the Berwick Shire Council meeting in the Dandenong Journal September 22, 1927

1929 - Pakenham Hotel at Pakenham   The Hotel near the Railway Station at Pakenham was  built for Daniel Bourke sometime between 1877, the year the railway arrived, and 1880 - I have seen various dates listed in various books. The Hotel was originally called the Gembrook Hotel and later the Pakenham Hotel.  The existing Hotel was built for Esther and Joseph Shankley and opened in April 1929. The Dandenong Journal described the Hotel as an 'ornament to the Main Street.' I don't have the exact date for the opening however the Pakenham Gazette had these advertisements in April 1929 - so I am assuming the opening date was between April 19 and April 26, 1929.

Pakenham Gazette April 19, 1929

Pakenham Gazette April 26, 1929


1931 - Hallam Hotel at Hallam  The Hallam Hotel started operation in 1872 or around 1879 (depending on sources) in William and Mary Hallam's General Store. A new building may have been built by Edmund Uren in 1886. The existing building opened in 1931 - and 'a portion of the old building was either modernised and extended'  or it was rebuilt completely - there are conflicting reports. Either way, it has changed so much that I am rating it as a 1931 building, so it is the tenth oldest Hotel building in Casey Cardinia. You  can read more about the Hallam Hotel, here

1934 - Palace Hotel at Lang Lang I said this was the top ten, but I will include the Palace Hotel, as it is a 1930s building. In 1893 the Flintoff family, who had previously operated the Tobin Yallock Hotel,  built the Lang Lang Coffee Palace near the station.   The building later acquired a liquor licence and was renamed the Palace Hotel. The original building burnt down in May 1933 and the new Palace Hotel was built on another site (where it is now) and opened in June 1934.

Special mentions



  • Pine Grove Hotel in Beaconsfield was built around 1880 and was destroyed in the Ash Wednesday fires in  1983. 
  • The Nar Nar Goon Hotel was built in 1883 and was destroyed by an explosion on May 21, 1972. 
  • Bourkes Hotel, also called the La Trobe Inn, on the  Toomuc Creek in Pakenham was opened in 1849 by Michael and Catherine Bourke - there is still a hotel on the site but I believe that there is very little of the original building left (if any). 
  • The Cardinia Park Hotel in Beaconsfield, started life as the Bush Inn, around the 1870s but has been 're-built', sometime before 1962 according to From Bullock Tracks to Bitumen 
  • Cranbourne Hotel on the site of where the Cranbourne Park Shopping Centre is now located was built in the 1860s and demolished in the 1970s. 
  • Richard Taylor's Half Way House Hotel at Lyndhurst was opened in 1871 and demolished in 1966.
  • Paradise Hotel Clematis - started by Michael O'Connor at Paradise Valley, later called Clematis - it was listed as a 'wine hall and accomodation house' in a newspaper report November 24, 1900. I am unfamiliar with this building and not sure how much of the original building remains.
  • Tooradin Hotel -  There was a hotel at Tooradin from around 1870. In 1888 Larry Basan took over the licence  and rebuilt the hotel in 1895.  The hotel was demolished in 2016 after being unused for many years.
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