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Pub crawling with our thirsty pioneers

Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929), Saturday 4 January 1919, page 6



A report of, the work done by the Licensing Department since its inception in March, 1916, was received by the Attorney General (Hon. H. N. Barwell) on Friday.

It is shown that the President, State members, and the Chief Inspector visited more than 300 hotels in the country, in order to have a personal knowledge of the premises licensed under the Act. 

It was found that in a number of houses where there was a permanent supply of water the old and insanitary pit system had been abolished, and the septic tank installed in about 50 cases.

The officers of the Licensing Department were always careful to cooperate with those of the different local boards of health in all matters relating to sanitary conveniences connected with hotels, and they had been on several occasions complimented by travellers and local residents on the general improvement of licensed premises within the past three years.

Obviously those premises had been much neglected previously, and the general public had been the Bunerera.

Fly-proof doors and window screens had been insisted upon for doors and windows of dining rooms, kitchens, and pantries.

Receptacles for kitchen refuse were also being used, and strict attention was paid to drainage.

Thirteen persons had been refused certificates on the ground that they were not desirable persona to conduct hotels, and 32 persons had been called on to show cause why their licenses should not be forfeited, as they had been convicted twice within two years.

Four licenses bad been forfeited, 19 applications dismissed, and seven withdrawn.

Although not successful in all cases, the Chief Inspector was satisfied that the procedure had on excellent effect on licensees in general.


One licensee was notified that the application for the renewal of their license would not again be granted, on account of the bad condition of. the premises, which were situated in a hollow.

The building was very damp, and it was impossible to keep it in good condition and fit for habitation.


One publican's license was declared to be forfeited on account of the licensee, who was also the owner, having neglected to comply with directions relating to additional accommodation.

Enqniries had been made in the licensing districts of Willunga, Strathalbyn, Kapunda, Clare, Gawler, Willaston, Burra, and Adelaide - whether there was & redundancy of hotels, but proceedings had been temporarily suspended owing to. a test case having been taken to the Privy Council.

Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929), Wednesday 22 July 1925, page 7



The paragraph in a recent issue of The Register on the need for improvement in  South 'Australia of its hotel service for visitors and boarders,  cuts at the root of a problem -which. has for long perplexed many.

In the city there are some good residential hotels, and some quite the reverse, and in the country the latter class is numerous.

I have travelled considerably over South Australia, and in most places the landlord looks on the supply of drink as the principal reason for which the Government has licensed him, while it has unfortunately tacked on the disagreeable necessity of providing some sort o£ bed and board for travellers.


The beds are generally apologies for sleeping places; skimpy, grubby, old mattresses made up of covering containing a few lumps of hard material only capable of filling a sugar bag, thin sheets not sufficiently large enough to tuck in over the miniature mattress, and blankets that appear to have been in use for children's cot about the time of the foundation o£ the State.


A Government official is supposed to inspect these sleeping places occasionally, but whoever heard of one of these gentlemen inspecting the beds?

He puts his head inside the doorway, glances round, and departs, assured that the landlord will at least reserve for him the best he can give in the way of bed and board.

In these days, when women are taking 6uch an active part in public matters, why are they not appointed to inspect the board and lodging offered to the public by hotelkeseers?

Obviously they are better suited for such work than men can ever be, for household matters have always been carried out by women. No doubt it has been thought that the wife or sister of the landlord should be suitable for the office; but in nine cases out of 10 she is not. No guarantee of her efficiency has been required; often she has never had the opportunity of managing even a small home.

In cases like these it would be a boon for the landlady to have a capable woman inspector, not only to criticise, but also to advise.

As things are now there are not only complaints about the so-called beds, but there are stories which point to conditions detrimental to health.


In some country towns there are sometimes several hotels, not one of which supplies comfortable board and lodging for women, who have no place but their bedrooms for themselves and children.


While men have bar parlours and smoking rooms, women have no place allotted to them as a women's sitting room free from the presence of men smoking and card playing.

The licence possessed by country landlords gives them an undue advantage over would-be owners of hotels, boarding, or coffee palaces, and so generally prevents any attempt to compete.

This state of affairs leaves travellers at the mercy of the lieensed man or -woman. Until the day dawns when licence to sell intoxicants is abolished, let us at least have the chance of better conditions in bed and board than are at present provided in licensed houses. This can only be insisted on by the appointment of a staff of competent trained women inspectors.


Port Lincoln Times (SA), Thursday 23 December 1976, page 3

The PAST few years have brought an upsurge of interest in the background history of South Australia, and one form this interest has taken has been the call to preserve at least some of our early public houses.

Certainly they had a colonial flavor all their own, in their day serving a useful purpose in the small communities which sprang up round them.


Many an old time pub was used as a place of worship, a meeting place for early councils, even, in some places, as a court house and a post office.

In Adelaide between 1837 and 1840 there were 63 pubs to a population of 6,657; in other words, one to every 105 residents.

The earliest appears to have been in 1838 when Deacon's Hotel and Coffee House opened on North terrace. The next year it was known as the Sydney, and the site was either near or on that now occupied by the Hotel Centralia (formerly the Black Cygnet).


The Licensing Act of 1837 made certain demands on Mine Host — "And also that if any licensed person being an innkeeper shall without lawful excuse refuse to receive and provide for a traveller and his horse or a traveller without a horse or the horse of a traveller not becoming a guest at the house" or "shall refuse to accept a corpse which may be brought to his public house for the purpose of a coroner's inquest being held thereon" such a licensed person shall for every such offence forfeit and pay the penalty of not less than one pound nor more than twenty pounds."

A tough requisite, indeed, and though much abhorred by the publicans, in force until quite recent times.

In those early years once people moved out from the city there was a rapid growth of churches wherever little settlements formed.

As well as being God-fearing citizens, our pioneer-fathers were also thirsty folk, and all along the tracks radiating out from Adelaide a profusion of inns was soon built.

Many of these old-timers have long since vanished with the decline of some of the townships.

At Riverton the local policeman had the supervision (per horseback) of many of the public houses in the Midland Licensing District.

His 1885 Report makes delightful reading:


"The Rising Sun Inn and Terminus Hotel. (Port Wakefield),

Marrabel Hotel (Marrabel),

Railway Hotel (Saddleworth),

Burton Hotel (Manoora),

Riverton Hotel (Riverton),

Terminus Hotel and Royal Hotel (Balaklava) are in good condition and well managed;

in the latter I found bugs outside the bedrooms.

The Bakers Springs Hotel (Rhynie) and Exmouth Hotel (Saddleworth) are not in such condition as those above-mentioned but are fairly managed.

The Mill Inn (Riverton) is an old house, fairly managed but might be improved in condition.

The Manoora Hotel (Manoora), Farmers Home (Hamilton) and Sir James Fergusson (Tarlee) are all in need of thorough renovation.

Bugs are still to be found in outside bedrooms at the latter house.

Repairs are promised by the occupants and at the Farmers' Home are now in course of completion; the management of this hotel is not clean. 


The Royal Oak Hotel (Tothill's Creek) is an old house in fair condition and fairly managed.

The Wellington Hotel (Waterloo), which was burnt down earlier in-the year has been rebuilt on higher ground near the old site, is a well-built house of nine rooms and has been fairly managed, but a proper urinal is badly needed:

"The wineshop at Steelton (bottle licence) is kept in a dilapidated and ruinous building.

The wineshop at Friederickswald is clean, well managed, and repairs are to be made to the front wall of the building.

Magpie & Stump Hotel 1976.png

1976 Patrons of the Magpie and Stump celebrate the erection of The new hotel sign at Mintaro. The hotel was built as the Magpie and Stump in 1850 but for more than a century, until just recently, carried the name Mintaro Hotel.

"The Mintaro Hotel and Devonshire Arms (Mintaro), the Whitwarta Hotel (Whitwarta), and the Emu Vale (Black Springs) have been removed from my list, but at the time of my visit the Mintaro Hotel was in good condition and the cleanest hotel in my list.

The Devonshire Arms had been repaired just before the annual meeting in March last and was in fair condition.

The Whitwarta Hotel was in need of thorough renovation which the leasee promised should be done.

The Emu Vale was an old house not in good condition, and has lately been destroyed by fire.

"The Hoyleton Hotel (Hoyleton) is in fair condition and fairly managed,

the District Hotel (Auburn) has been renovated throughout and is now in good condition;

the house has lately changed hands and I have had no opportunity of judging as to the present management.

The Undalya Hotel (Undalya), Rising Sun (Auburn), Leasingham Hotel (Leasingham), Prince of Wales Hotel and Watervale Hotel (Watervale) and the Derby Arms (Penwortham) are all old houses and fairly managed, and, with the exception of the Derby Arms and the Prince of Wales are in fair condition."

Clare in its day
Fords Hotel Ad 1870  CNT 69-3-10.jpg
Miner's Arms Hotel.jpg

Clare in its day had six public houses in Main street: Bentley's, Travellers' Rest, The Clare, Thistle and Shamrock, The Globe and The Commercial.

At historic Armagh The Miners' Home Hotel received its first license in 1850, while the' Rochester Hotel (now in ruins) catered for the thirsts of teamsters, passengers in Hill and Co's coaching conveyances, drovers and local farmers.

It was licensed in 1875 and did a flourishing trade until coaches were replaced by railways. It closed in 1908.


Today the Miners' Arms, as a private museum, still tends to the needs of an historically minded public. The bar room and house has been furnished as it was about the turn of the century.

A slate headstone set in the floor commemorates the name of a little girl who was buried on the property in 1870.


But to get back to Mintaro. In this town in December 1850, one Matthew Muir opened an inn, and this he named the Magpie and Stump, though this colorful name was not long afterward changed to the Mintaro Hotel.

Jameson's Bullock Team 1909.jpg
Martindale Hall_edited.jpg

Mintaro was laid out in 1849 as a stopping place for the bullockies and their loads of copper and coal which they brought along the Gulf road between Port Wakefield (then known as Port Henry) and the smelters at Burra.

The Gulf road proved a tough proposition even for the bullockies, and three shiploads of mules were imported from South America, along with a number of Spanish-speaking muleteers.

There were cueing yards for the bullocks behind the inns at Mintaro, and with braying mules, bellowing bullocks, to say nothing of the uproar created by the brawling, drinking fiery-tempered Spaniards (not to mention the activities of the bullockies) the night frequently was made "hideous with sound."


However, before long the busy years of the copper mines declined; the bullockies and their patient slaves, together with the mule teams, faded out and Mintaro entered upon more tranquil times.

Evenutally the Devonshire Arms went out of business.  

Mintaro did not die with the passing of the copper boom years, however.


Slate, the only deposit of its quality in Australia, was discovered in the early 1850s, and when a flagstone sent to an exhibition in London won first prize, its name was made.

Mintaro slate is recognised today for the outstanding success of its use in billiard tables.

Interesting events are happening these days at Mintaro.


Recognition is being made of the town for its historic value, and when the film "Picnic at Hanging Rock" was made, in part at any rate, at nearby Martindale Hall, the spotlight turned on the little village.

Restoration work is under way-on several old cottages. The latest move in this direction comes from the old Mintaro Hotel, which, though destroyed by fire in 1904, was rebuilt and carried on its trade.

The good news to those interested in history and such things is that permission has been granted by the Licensing Court for the restoration of the original name the Magpie And Stump.

Licensees E. W. and P. A. Rantanen have now hung the sign over the hotel.

In this way they have answered the call for preservation of at least one of our early public houses.

It is to be hoped that others follow their example and do their part in preserving some items of our colorful and robust past.

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