Goolwa Hotel’s historic figurehead from the shipwrecked Mozambique

goolwa hotel google street view

Goolwa Hotel, Goolwa. Picture: Google Streetview

A PUB in the historic port town of Goolwa, at the mouth of the Murray River in South Australia, has strong links with the shipwrecked Mozambique.

The Goolwa Hotel features the original figurehead of the ship, which went down  with 24 passengers and 22 crew on board in August 1854. Wooden barque was en-route to Melbourne from London when it was driven ashore in heavy seas on the Coorong beach . All passengers and crew landed safely and were taken to Goolwa by a local resident William Law. The Shipping Gazette and Sydney General Trade List reported on September 18 1854:

The ship Mozambique has been totally lost, on the coast outside the Coorong. The Mozambique was loading in the London docks… and bound for some of the Australian colonies. She stranded and became a total wreck, at about sixty miles from Port Elliot. It appears that previous to the final catastrophe she had been in a leaky state, baring eight feet water in her hold, and was very short of provisions; in fact they were in a state bordering on starvation. We learn that provisions were despatched to the crew and passengers from the Goolwa, and understand that the captain has arrived at Port Elliot.

William Law reportedly transported the survivors of the shipwreck to the Goolwa Hotel where they were given food and accommodation by the publican, John Varco.

The story goes that in appreciation, the captain of the Mozambique presented Varco with the figurehead of the ship, cedar tables and chairs, a cedar side board, a 60 foot mast and some spars.

The wooden figurehead of a woman was reportedly placed on the gable of the hotel stables. Three years after the Mozambique disaster Mr Varcoe added an extra storey of bedrooms to the hotel and used the cedar from the ship to construct a staircase. The ship’s mast was reportedly used to hold-up the floor in the pub’s dining room.

The Goolwa Hotel is an excellent example of early colonial architecture, and still provides comfortable facilities for patrons without losing the heritage atmosphere and ambience.

goolwa hotel 1950s

The Goolwa Hotel in the 1950s

“A wonderful dining experience awaits guests in the Mozambique Restaurant. Friendly staff and magnificent meals make this a certain stop when visiting Goolwa.”

-South Australian Hotels

goolwa hotel 1The Goolwa Hotel Goolwa Hotel, built in 1853, has strong connections with the wreck of the Mozambique on the Coorong in the mid- 1800s. The first person to discover the wreck was James Law, of Finniss. Mr Law transported the survivors to the Goolwa Hotel where they were given food and accommodation. In appreciation, the captain of the Mozambique then presented the licensee, John Varcoe, with the figurehead of the ship, some cedar tables and chairs, a cedar side board, a 60 foot mast and some spars. Today, the mast holds up the floor in the non-smoking dining room, the Captain’s Room. Three years after the Mozambique disaster Mr Varcoe added an extra storey of bedrooms to the hotel and used the cedar from the ship to construct a staircase.

-Times (Victor Harbor, SA) Tuesday 25 January 1994.

masterheadA Goolwa landmark is back on her vigil looking out towards the Murray Mouth… the figurehead from the Mozambique, which went down off the Coorong near the Murray Mouth in August, 1854, was returned to her “home” on the Goolwa Hotel on Friday morning after a “facelift”. Repairs to the figurehead were carried out by Ross Ballard and painting work by Tony Gluyas. Helping to return the landmark to her “home” on Friday are Ross Ballard and Rod Butterfield.

– Times (Victor Harbor, SA) Tuesday 14 December 1993.

 

goolwa hotel old

The Goolwa Hotel, Goolwa, undated. Picture: State Library of South Australia

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An undated advertisement for the Goolwa Hotel, showing the figurehead over the gable of the stables. Picture: State Library of South Australia

Originally the figurehead of the  “Mozambique” was placed above the doors of Hayloft on the pub’s stables (As pictured in this advertisement of the Goolwa Hotel, showing a portrait of proprietor and advertisements. The figurehead can be seen on the stables).

The advertisement states the following: “River Murray an ordinary daily at one o’clock. Choice English ales on draught. Horses guns and dogs for sportsmen. By yours respectfully Jno. Varcoe. Wines spirits and cordials. Good stables, stock yards. Horses and gigs on hire.”

Three photographs on the advertisement depict the Goolwa Hotel, Jno. Varcoe and the Stables.

Goolwa Hotel Figurehead State LIbrary of SA cropped 2

The original figurehead from the shipwrecked Mozambique can today be found in the dining room of the hotel. Picture: State Library of South Australia

 

Today the figurehead has been re-located inside the hotel, and sits on the wall of the dining room. A replica sits on the facade of outside of the hotel.

Goolwa Hotel Figurehead replica outside state library of SA

The replica of the figurehead from the shipwrecked Mozambique can be seen on the hotel’s facade. Picture: State Library of South Australia


 

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Categories: South Australia Hotels

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