Author: Dr Michele Matthews

Archives Officer, Bendigo Regional Archives Centre

Researchers often ask if they can find out information about local Bendigo and district Hotels, using records from the Bendigo Regional Archives Centre (BRAC). Many Hotels are referred to in various types of correspondence sent to the Council, all housed within our collection under VPRS 16936 Sandhurst/Bendigo Inwards Correspondence.

photo of the BRAC reading room
The Bendigo Regional Archives Centre Reading Room.


Hotels as location markers

Hotels were often used as city location markers by both residents and Council staff.

The “Cricketeers Arms” (author’s spelling, not mine) was given as the locale for damaging mining works being carried out near the Back Creek bridge in correspondence from 14 November 1895.

On 31 October 1872, Town Clerk Fletcher was asked by Mayor MacDougall to inform all Councillors they were to attend a luncheon at the Shamrock Hotel, during the Royal Princes’ 1872 visit to Sandhurst.

W. Telford successfully applied for permission to run his cab between the Telegraph Hotel and the One Tree Hill Hotel for “a threepenny fare” in 1895.

That same year, Roper, the Street Tree Curator, informed Council he had moved a street tree from Barnard Street, in front of the back yard of the Five Lions Hotel.

old black and white photo of the shamrock hotel
Shamrock Hotel photo courtesy of the State Library Victoria collection. 


Landmarks in petitions

Hotels were also landmarks referred to in some Petitions’ prayers.

In September 1881, petitioners told the Council that obstructions needed to be removed from Barnard Street, between the Red Lion Hotel and Don Street.  

Other petitioners asked for Retreat Road to be formed, between the Durham Ox Hotel and the City’s boundary.  


Proliferation of hotels and breweries over time

The number of publicans and breweries in our city also appeared occasionally in reports sent to Sandhurst/Bendigo Council.

An 1871 document noted there were 91 “licensed publicans” and 114 “Beer sellers” in Sandhurst at that time. And in 1872, the Council’s own statistics collector reported that the 

city boasted 8 Breweries. Interesting ratios considering the 1871 census gave Sandhurst’s total population as 21,987!! (Mackay, G (ed.), Annals of Bendigo, vol. 2, Bendigo, 1914, p. 122.)


Rate books and licensing records

Hotels also appear in all eight series of rate books held at BRAC.

You can gauge any Hotel’s location by its entry in a street. The Publican’s name is recorded as either owner or occupier, or both, but unfortunately Hotel names are never recorded. See below for links to these records:

VPRS 16267 Bendigo
VPRS 16263 Eaglehawk
VPRS 16333 Huntly
VPRS 16266 Marong
VPRS 16136 Strathfieldsaye
VPRS 16334 Heathcote
VPRS 7006 McIvor
VPRS 17066 Raywood.

The most comprehensive coverage, containing many details about individual Hotels, can be found in the following Licensing Court series held at BRAC:

Bendigo (1884-1968)
Eaglehawk (1983-86)
Elmore (1878-1904; 1980-83)
Rochester (1883-92)
and St. Arnaud (1943-54) Licensing Courts.

None have VPRS numbers yet, so they are orderable just by contacting BRAC staff. All entries give the Publican’s name, the name and address of the Hotel, whether a license or transfer of the license was being applied for, and the Magistrate’s decision.

photo of books on a shelf
Licensing registers. 


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