The Vic survived three cyclones…

But drinking habits finally shut her doors…


THE Victoria Hotel, survived three cyclones, and everything Mother Nature could throw at her, but the almighty dollar finally shut her doors in 2014.

Three major cyclones have unroofed the Vic over its long history as a pub.

The first cyclone peeled part of the pub’s roof off, causing internal damage on January 6 1897. Known as the “Great Hurricane”, it killed 28 people, sank 19 vessels in the harbour, including the entire pearling fleet, and caused around £150,000 damage throughout the town. Structurally however, the hotel was one of only a few buildings that remained intact and it was repaired shortly afterwards.

In 1937 the hotel lost its roof for the second time in March, during another cyclone. Although not as formidable as the 1897 cyclone, it still caused considerable damage to the town and killed one person. The hotel was quickly repaired.

The hotel survived the mother of all Darwin’s cyclones, when Tracey hit on Christmas Day 1974.

Tracey killed 71 people and damaged 95 per cent of buildings in the northern city, at an estimated cost of over $800 million.

The hotel was significantly damaged but once again survived structurally. The Vic lost its roof for the third time in less than a century.

Drinkers had a four year wait to return to the bar of the historic watering hole. It wasn’t until 1978 that the hotel was reconstructed. Some original stonework was repaired at this time, particularly in relation to the Smith Street gabled parapet. Other stonework repairs were minimal as it was still in generally good condition, despite the severity of Cyclone Tracy.

The hotel has had several refurbishments since Cyclone Tracy, and the hotel’s facade was registered on the National Estate as a Historic site in 1999.

Sadly the Vic shut shop in October 2014. It was reported to be more than $750,000 in debt at the time.

The hotel’s co-owner Andrew Chigwidden was reported at the time as blaming the hotel’s closure on it struggling “to get market share due to it’s [sic] geographical position… a lack of a suitable downstairs smoking area has also had a massive negative commercial impact on the viability (and) the social ambience of the hotel.”


The Victoria Hotel, Darwin 2008

Categories: Darwin hotels, Northern Territory hotels

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