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Willaston Hotel - First

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Town or Locality: Willaston
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The first hotel built was just across the bridge on the left hand side, and is now a private dwelling. Thomas Greaves built the Willaston Hotel in 1849 and also established a camping ground for mule teams from the Burra Mines, alongside. Travellers in drays, carts and wagons stopped here for a rest, to stable their animals and to collect further provisions.

The explorer John McKinlay, charged with instructions from the Government to provide relief for the missing Burke and Wills expedition, left from the Willaston Hotel in August 1861.

It was reported that it was a ‘convivial send off’ by the new owner of the hotel, Mr R.T. Poole, whose son Bobby formed one of McKinlay’s search party. Apparently there was a champagne breakfast before departure. Mr. Poole also supplied the party with 200 pounds of bacon. McKinlay found the grave of Burke and others of his party near Cooper’s Creek and then launched off on an epic exploration himself in search of grazing country. In his search he named “Poole’s Creek” after the Mr. Poole of Willaston. McKinlay retired to Gawler, and died in 1872. He is buried in the Willaston Cemetery.

The Willaston Hotel has an association with another explorer, John McDouall Stuart. His final expedition, to find a way from the south to the north of Australia, left Adelaide on 26th October, 1861. He and his party reached the Indian Ocean on 25th July 1862. On their return, the expedition stopped at the Willaston Hotel on 19th January 1863. The South Australian Register reported-

“A little before 10 o’clock Willaston seemed to be the centre of attraction and thither, the crowd repaired. On arrival there the explorers were seen getting ready their saddle and pack horses, which being concluded they and a number of the gentlemen of Gawler assembled in the large room of Mr. Poole’s Willaston Hotel where a substantial luncheon was laid out.”

Unfortunately, Stuart was not in attendance, due to ill health. The party then left the hotel with a full procession, including brass bands, which stretched for a quarter of a mile. The party camped at the Little Para, where Stuart joined them. They then proceeded into Adelaide on the 21st January 1863 to a heroes welcome, with crowds lining the streets and celebrating with a public holiday.

In the booklet “Willaston Revisited: January 1988”, Gerald Carmody reflects on his early life in Willaston, 40 years before.- “As a very young boy, I remembered my grandfather telling me about the horse trough that stood on the foot path outside this hotel. On a Sunday morning (he said) the water in the trough would be red with blood. Bare knuckle fisticuffs were the order of the day on Saturday nights.”

The hotel closed in 1920. It later became a private residence. In 1987 for a short time, it housed an antique business conducted by Frank and Thelma Banister.


The following information has been gathered with permission from “Hotels and Publicans in South Australia” by J.L. (Bob) Hoad Adelaide 1986 ISBN 0 86745 002 9 and ISBN 0 9595446 2 3

WILLASTON HOTEL – Willaston (Heading north, first building on left after Willaston Bridge). Existed 1849 – 1920; First establishment of the name “Willaston”. Licensee/Publican 1849 – 1850 Greaves Thos.

1850 – 1854 Norman J.R. [J.J.?]

1855 – 1863 Poole R.T.

1863 – 1869 Johnson H.

1869 – 1871 Adcock O.

1871 – 1874 Johnson H.

1875 – 1877 Nisbet (T) Robert

1877 – 9.12.78 Nisbet (T) Sarah

10.12.1878 –79 Lange Ernest H.E.

1880 – 1881 Humphries James

1881 Uren A.W.

? - 9.12.1881 Randall Margaret

10.12.1881 – 12.6.1883 Young F.B.

13.6.1883 – 12.9.1886 Barnfield Mary

13.9.1886 – 1889 Hosie A.

1890 Solby C.

1891 Jolly Chris

1892 Partridge R.J.

1893 – 1896 Gundry R.H.

1897 Lampe M.A. Mrs

1898 – 1899 Lansley D.

1900 Hennessy Jane B. Mrs

1901 – 1905 Frayne Thos.

1906 – 1908 Parham E.

April 1908 – 1910 Harris Thos.

1911 – 1912 Weaver Wm.

1913 Coppins J.A.

1914 – 1915 Kuhlman Mrs

1916 – 1917 Moroney M. [check surname spelling]

1918 – 1919 Morony N. Mrs [check surname spelling]

1920 Rickaby D.S.

Please click here for photos of the first Willaston Hotel.

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