Australia’s first and oldest community hotel

An aerial view of the Renmark Hotel, Renmark, South Australia 1947.

An aerial view of the Renmark Hotel, Renmark, South Australia 1947.

FIRST TWO-STORIED BLOCK—The first two-storied block, erected on the front corner, as it appeared at the opening ceremony in 1904.

FIRST TWO-STORIED BLOCK—The first two-storied block, erected on the front corner, as it appeared at the opening ceremony in 1904.

A comprehensive idea of the Renmark Hotel property is given by this striking aerial photograph. On the river frontage opposite the magnificent main block, which stands on the corner of Murray Avenue and Para Street, can be seen the hotel gardens, followed by bowling greens, and, in the top left-hand corner, the tennis court.

Along Murray Avenue from the hotel come first the motor garages, followed by further bowling greens. Most of the blocks on the opposite side of the back

street (15th Street) are also hotel property.

The luxurious interior, which, with first class service, have gained Hotel Renmark its high reputation, include a nobly proportioned and fitted dining hall, richly comfortable main and upstairs lounges, reading lounge with fine library and writing desks, any commercial room.

Upstairs which is reached by lift, the range of bedrooms includes some with bathrooms, attached, private telephones, hot and cold running water in every room. All passage ways and most rooms are fitted with wall to wall carpets, and appointments generally are the best thing in modernity and comfort.

The up-to-date roomy kitchen is equipped at a standard rarely found in country hotels.

Persuing a progressive policy the present Committee has plans in hand for more than doubling the size of the present bar, with sitting out area, added provision for staff quarters, enlargement of saloon bar, with lounge, more guest rooms, and enlargement

of dining room. It also plans the removal of the garages to the other side of 15th Street, and their replacement with a garden area to be over-looked by dining room and public bar lounge.

– Murray Pioneer (Renmark) Thursday 17 April 1947.


Renmark Hotel 2014

Renmark Hotel 2014

THE Renmark and Paringa district was settled by the Chaffey Brothers on the 14th February, 1887 as a first Irrigation Settlement in Australia.

The Renmark Hotel was later established in 1897 and became the first Community Hotel in the British Empire and is still operating today as a Community Hotel.  The first licensee of the Hotel was Jane Meissner.  The Community elects members to the Board of Directors for a 3 year term.

Donations to the Community from the early 1900’s were instrumental in establishing the Renmark town.  Donations went to building the Renmark Institute, Renmark Hospital, a fire station, public toilets, Caravan Park and to the council for road works, paving, parks and gardens.  Others to benefit Hotel donations were the Scouts, Girl Guides, racing club, schools, bands and football club with donations still being made today to numerous organisations.

The first Renmark Hotel 1920s.

The first Renmark Hotel 1920s.

The Hotel even bought land in James Avenue and gave it to the council, so that gardens were maintained for the public.  They also bought the land to be used for a Scenic Lookout tower which was completed by Rotary in 1961.

The first Tourist Office for Renmark was set up within the Renmark Hotel in 1969.
During World War II in 1942, the Hotel built an Observation Post on the Tower at the front of the Hotel, which was used as an Air Spotters’ post and had personnel rostered 24 hours a day.

On the 15th November, 1957 the Hotel opened a bar which was the longest bar in the Southern Hemisphere.  It was 205 feet or 62.4 metres long, circled the whole room and had 20 taps.

The Nanya Bistro won the Best Country Bistro in 2008 and again in 2010.  The name Nanya originates from the last surviving local Aboriginal tribe in this area.  The original Nanya Bistro was opened on the 10th July, 1964.

There are colourful stories of Harry “Breaker” Morant riding his horse into the bar.  Articles often appear in travel sections, listing the Renmark Hotel as one of the haunted locations in South Australia to visit.

During the history of the Renmark Hotel we have had the honour to have been visited by:

* Sir Charles Kingsford Smith in the “Southern Cross” in 1932

* Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, 13th September, 1946

* Prince and Princess of Wales, 6th April, 1983

* And Numerous Governors and Governor Generals

The recently renovated Sports Bar proudly displays photographs of local “Sports Heroes”. With the support of the Community and visitors to the district the Renmark Hotel continues to donate its facilities, time and money for the benefit of Renmark, Paringa, Lyrup and Cooltong residents. The Renmark Hotel was Heritage listed in 1996.

From the Renmark Hotel’s website.

Categories: South Australia Hotels

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1 reply

  1. Great place. My wife and I spent a night there in 1988 during our pub crawling honeymoon!

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