Emu Hotel, Parramatta

emu hotel george street parramatta
Emu Hotel, George Street, Parramatta, C1890.


Sydney, Tuesday. An old age pensioner named James Lawson was found today in a stable at the Emu Hotel, Parramatta, with his throat cut. He had been seeking admission to the asylum. He is in a critical condition.

– National Advocate (Bathurst, NSW) Wednesday 11 February 1903.

* James Lawson had been camped in the old stables behind the Emu Hotel in George Street Parramatta for three days before the publican found him bleeding from wounds to his neck and arms. Lawson had tried to kill himself with a pen knife. Despite losing a lot of blood the 75-year-old survived and as a result was charged with attempted suicide by police. Lawson was said to be in Parramatta trying to gain entry to one of the asylums and attempted suicide because he was “tired of life”. He eventually returned to his home in Forest Lodge where he died two years later in 1905. Can anyone tell us the exact location of the Emu Hotel?

Read the history of the Emu Hotel at the Time Gents’ story: Emu Hotel was a favourite with the inmates of the Parramatta asylum

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Categories: NSW hotels, Sydney hotels

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9 replies

  1. Hello Mick

    I have been reading the historic notes you have written on a number of hotels, and want to compliment you on your research and the interesting way you have written the stories of the hotels in the Rocks, for instance. I have ancestors who would have frequented these hotels – one of them was John Morris, who worked on the ‘Lucy Ann’ and the ‘Joseph Weller’, travelling backwards and forwards to NZ. He moved from captaining the ‘Joseph Weller’ to the much quieter water world of the Parramatta River. He was captain of the ‘Australia’, the ‘Emu’ and other steam boats working on the Sydney-Parramatta run. Hence my interest in your piece here on the Emu Hotel.

    George Street runs from the Old Government House in Parramatta down to the wharf area, where the steam packets used to arrive and depart. Captain John Morris lived in George Street, so I imagine he new the Emu Hotel well. I have read that it was known as ‘Cadman’s Steam Packet Hotel, George Street, Parramatta’. Low’s Directory for 1847 has a fantastic advertisement for it which you may like to check. The advertisement finishes that it is “close to the Queen’s Wharf, possessing views of the river and the surrounding country”. So I hope that helps you in your quest to locate the Emu Hotel, as it later became known.

    I can recommend to you a book by Catherine Bishop, titled “Minding Her Own Business”. Catherine writes that Elizabeth Cadman took over the running of the Steampacket Inn in George Street Parramatta when her husband died. These were, incidentally, the same Cadmans as in ‘Cadman’s Cottage’ at Circular Quay.


    Caroline Hardie

    • I am a descendant of John Cadman of the Steam Packet Inn, Parramatta.
      I have been researching these Inn’s for many years.
      The above info is not correct, the Emu Inn next door to the Steam Packet Inn, closer to the Queen’s Wharf. It was originally in 1850’s known as the Elephant and Castle Inn, and in C.1869 was taken over by
      John Cowan Kell, the retired Captain of the paddle steamer, “Emu”. Kell renamed the Inn the Emu Inn, a name which it kept until 1909, when the Inn was demolished.
      The Steam Packet Inn was in 1873 devided in two, and the two storey brick section was sold to the Parramatta Gas Company, who converted the building into the Gas Company Office. The weatherboard section of the Steam Packet Inn was at that time also owned by the Kell family who used this building as a family home and Boarding House.

      Regards, William Bryant

      • Thanks William, always appreciate feedback, especially when it corrects any errors. Which part of the information in this story is incorrect? Are you saying that the Emu Inn was NOT located in George Street, but was located closer to the Queen’s Wharf, next to the Steam Packet Inn?

      • The Steam Packet Inn and the Emu Inn, were both in George Street, Parramatta.
        Both on the northern side of George Street, about 30 metres apart. The Emu Inn was closer to the Queens Wharf (Government run wharf), which was about 100 metres east of Emu Inn.
        The Steam Packet Inn was built in 1838 by Edye Manning, close to Parramatta River, behind the Paddle Steamer Wharf, close to the present day monument to the ship “Parramatta”.
        Originally Edye Mannings property was about 1 Rood in size, and was owned by Thomas and Henry Gilbert Smith, who built the paddle steamer wharf and ran the first paddle steamer ferry to Parramatta from Sydney, in June 1831. When the Smith Brothers went bankrupt, the handed the Grant over to Eye Manning, on a quit rent agreement completed in 1840.
        The S P Inn, was partly two storey brick, and the eastern end was weatherboard, one storey.
        Edye Manning sold the Steam Packet Inn to John Cadman in 1843, and after Cadman died in 1848, it went to his wife Elizabeth who died in 1861. In 1863, Cadman’s daughter Charlotte Phoebe Cadman Sargent, sold the Inn to James Cranney. Cranney sold the Inn to the Kell family in 1869.
        The Brick section was purchased by Gas Company in 1873, and demolished between 1936 and 1946.
        The weatherboard section was retained by the Kell family, as the family home, they also owned the Emu Inn, next door.
        The Emu Inn (which was a brick building with verandah on 3 sides) and weatherboard building next door were condemned in 1908, by Parramatta Council. Weatherboard section was demolished in August 1908, and the Emu Inn demolished a few months later in 1909.

        Hope this clarifies the situation,

        Regards, Willliam Bryant

      • Hello Mick,

        I must make one small correction to my last message,

        Everything I wrote is correct, except that Henry Gilbert Smith and brother Thomas, did not go bankrupt in 1830’s. Their partnership was however dissolved at that time, and Thomas Smith went on to become an accountant.
        The ferry service to Parramatta proved to be unsuccessful for them so they sold the ferry “Surprise” to a company in Tasmania and turned their hand to other ventures.
        Edye Manning, the younger, was given permission to take over the purchase of the 1 rood property, in George Street, Parramatta, along with the ferry wharf,and when he attempted to start his own ferry service to Parramatta, with ferry “Experiment” it was a resounding success.
        He then in 1838, built the Steam Packet Inn, and soon after employed Thomas Whitty Toby, the ferry Captain of the “Experiment” to be innkeeper of his new inn, which sported the first Billiard Room ever seen in Parramatta.

        Regards, William Bryant

      • John Cowan Kell purchased both properties, near the wharf. New section of Emu Inn built C 1871, Steam Packet Inn absorbed into Emu Inn by 1871. Old brick section of Steam Packet Inn sold to Parramatta Gas Company in 1873. Mary Kell lived in the weatherboard section of what was the Steam Packet Inn, later part of Emu Inn.

  2. Hi Mick,
    Hi William,

    I’m wondering – could this be the same Emu Inn that I have searched for some time to find and previously dismissed as a photo of a single-level Emu Inn, given my ancestor fell down stairs in an Emu Inn, George St, Parramatta?

    She was Mary Ann Rhodes nee Glasson, one of many Publican’s of an Emu Inn, George Street, Parramatta (if the same hotel, seemingly post the Kell family’s time that you mention). Mary Ann was Licensee (1877-1880) (noted in the NSW State Archives, NSW Police Gazette’s List of Publicans in Parramatta). She resided in the Emu Inn with her children.

    She fell down the stairs to her death in 1880 aged 57. Prior to her time at the Emu Inn she was the licensed publican and owner of four Sydney hotels from 1845 until her death. These included two Rhodes Family Hotel’s in Woolloomooloo and Pitt Street, The Commercial Hotel, Margaret St., later named the Maritime Marine Hotel, also the Daniel Lambert Hotel, Newtown.

    Incidentally, her daughter Mary Ann Speight nee Rhodes was publican with her husband at the newly built ASN Hotel, 160 John St, Cnr Mill St., Pyrmont (1872-1905), built for the wharf workers and demolished when a new goods train line to the wharves went in.

    It is interesting to read above your demonstrated knowledge of the George Street area and movements at that time.
    Many thanks.


    • I beleive the Emu Inn, which was run by the Kell family was the same building in which your ancestor Mary Ann Rhodes died in 1880 by failing down the stairs.
      Even though early photos of of the Emu Inn appear to show a one storey building, I have solid evidence that the inn had an attic in which there were upstairs rooms. There was also a downstairs cellar.

      Regards, William Bryant

  3. Update 2022 – More research has revealed that Mary Ann Rhodes was Publican of Emu Inn, George Street, Parramatta during the period that Widow ,Mary Kell was owner of Emu Inn.
    From 1850-1868, this Inn was known as Elephant and Castle Inn, and did have an attic and veranda on one side during that period, however in 1869 when John C Kell purchased the inn, and changed its name to Emu Inn, he made major renovations including restructuring of the roof so it extended out over a new veranda which was on 3 sides of the inn. I previously thought there was a complete rebuild of the inn, in 1870, but only renovation occurred.
    Also found a newspaper article which stated that Mary Rhodes fell down the stairs at the back of the inn, which lead down to the water.

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