Queensland goldfield pubs: Moonmera & Baree’s Golden Spur Hotels

Moonmera Hotel Moonmera qld c1885

THIS PICTURE OF THE MOONMERA HOTEL taken soon after it was built in the 1880s gives an indication of its popularity with the teamsters of the day, who hauled heavy loads up Razorback before the railway was built. The boiler on the wagon at the right of the picture was the first ever taken to Mount Morgan and waa used by the Mount Morgan Gold Mining Company Limited.

Old Land Mark Disappears: The Moonmera Hotel

(By Our Mt Morgan Correspondent)

THE passing of the Moonmera Hotel, situated at the foot of the Razor-back, due to the surrendering of the license and the sale of the buildings, will remove one of the most historic landmarks in Central Queensland.

This hotel, built soon after the opening of the Mt Morgan mine, played an important role in the early development of that place. It accommodated not only the roving spirits making for the famous goldfield, and the hard-working and hard-drinking teamsters, but men who later became millionaires, and distinguished visitors from all over the world slept, dined and drank there. If walls could speak few could tell more stirring tales than those which afforded shelter to so many men of different tastes and upbringing, but all possessing one thing in common – the gold fever.

The Moonmera Hotel was built over nearly 60 years ago by F. R. Anderson, who conducted it for some years, and then sold out to W. Mitchell, a son-in-law of John Thorne, who built and conducted the Golden Spur Hotel, Baree.

Golden Spur Hotel Baree Qld 1880s

THE LATE GOLDEN SPUR HOTEL, which once stood at Baree, Mount Morgan. (Photo by Mr J Thorne, Baree.)

The Andersons later went to live at Mt Morgan, and Mr Anderson died there 20 years ago. Mitchell made money at the Moonmera. Its situation at the foot of the Razorback made it a natural stopping place for travellers going to or coming from Mt Morgan. In the early days the Morgans, W. K. D’Arcy, William Pattison, and the Halls, always made a stop at the Moonmera.

The teamsters taking loading from Rockhampton to Mt Morgan camped at Moonmera, and the coaches pulled up and rested at the hotel before taking on the stiff climb. Mitchell was also a wood contractor for the company, and his carters and cutters naturally found their way to the pub, especially on pay day. Those were the days of ‘ knocking down ‘ cheques by teamsters and timber-getters, and many a spree was celebrated at the Moonmera Hotel by this hard drinking lot.

Needless to say, the card sharper and swindler not infrequently showed up at the hotel, and was not easily discouraged. One well known sharper from Rockhampton never failed to be present on the wood cutters pay day, and be used to boast that £50 to £60 was the least he netted for his trouble.

Thorne’s Golden Spur was another popular port of call, and the publican of those days needed to be a hard headed two fisted man to hold his own with the clientele. Even so he was sometimes bested, as once happened to Thorne. There was not much in the way of cellar accommodation at these bush pubs, and the beer, which was in half or whole hogsheads, was generally stored on the side verandah. At least it was at the Golden Spur. Old man Thorne was puzzled at a prolong ‘drunk’ enjoyed by a noted character of the day named ‘Long Dick’ and his cronies, who were camped not far from the pub. They never bought any beer over the bar, but were always well primed. The secret was out when Thorne, tapping what he thought was a full cask, on the verandah, found it to be nearly empty.

Long Dick had bored a hole through the floor of the verandah and tapped the keg. Each night the party would fill buckets with the beer, re-plug the hole, and enjoy themselves to the full. One of John Thorne’s sons is still living at Baree.

Mrs Mitchell, 74 years of age, now lives with a son on the Dawson Road, Rockhampton. Two sons of the Andersons, the original owners of the Moonmera Hotel, are still living in Mt Morgan.

-Central Queensland Herald (Rockhampton, Qld), Thursday 24 February 1938


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