Darlingford Hotel’s ‘watery grave’: How a pub was submerged by Sugarloaf Weir

darlingford hotel and general store 1910.jpeg
Darlingford Hotel, Darlingford, Victoria, 1910. Picture: Supplied

THE site of the Darlingford Hotel now sits at the bottom of Lake Eildon, a rock and earth-fill embankment dam across the Goulburn River, between the regional towns of Mansfield and Eildon in the Alpine region of Victoria.

Darlingford, named after Sir Charles Darling, Governor of Victoria, came into being in the 1860s after gold was discovered in the area. At its peak, the town had seven hotels, five policemen, a log gaol, shops, post office and a small slab hut used as a school.

By 1907 it had just one hotel and general store, run by Timothy Kelly. News that the Government planned a massive water reservoir at Darlingford prompted Kelly to retire from business and the old weatherboard, single storey pub was taken over by an enterprising Thomas Henry Allen that same year.

The contruction of the Sugarloaf Weir would bring many customers into the bar of Allen’s pub. To house the men working on the reservoir, the new shanty town of Eildon began to develop. The State Rivers and Water Supply Commission built houses for their staff, a large mess room and single men’s accommodation.

Sugarloaf Reservoir construction commenced in 1915 and was finally completed in 1929.

Tom Allen embarked in business enterprises in various parts of Upper Goulburn, and when the Government decided to construct the Sugarloaf weir he and his brothers saw the opportunity of buying the pub at Darlingford.

The hotel at Darlingford was closed at the end of 1920 as the Government had resumed all the land in the Big River Valley, which included the township site – But not before Tom had made plenty of money from the thirsty dam workers.

Darlingford Hotel Darlingford Victoria 1924
The Darlingford Hotel in 1924, with water from the dam lapping at its door. Picture: Supplied

After the pub closed, the Allen Brothers acquired the Rubicon Hotel at Thornton, about 20kms from Darlingford, in 1921, and Tom took up his residence there as the licensee. He became the leading public man of that district. From August 1909 to August 1918 he was a member of the Alexandra Shire Council, and prior to his death was a member of the Mansfield Shire Council.

Tom Allen died in January 1933 at the age of 55. He was born at Ten Mile, and completed his education at Xavier College, Kew. There were six boys and three girls in the Allen family, who would have all helped run his two pubs during his life time.

During the early 2000s it was reported that a drought resulted in the tops of some of the town’s buildings protruding from their watery grave.

Subscribe to the latest Time Gents stories


If you would like to support my work, you can leave a small ‘bar tip’ here of $2, or several small tips, just increase the amount as you like. Your generous patronage of my work and research, however small it appears to you, will greatly help me with my continuing costs.



Instead, you can make a credit card donation towards the publication of The Time Gents website. If you would like to support my work, you can leave a $2.00 donation here, or you can increase the amount after clicking or tapping into the icon below. Your generous patronage of my work and research, however small it appears to you, will greatly help me with my continuing costs and research.

Categories: Victoria hotels

Tags: , , , , ,

What's Your Thoughts?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.