Adavale’s Blackwater Hotel, aka ‘The Dog & Vomit’

The Adavale Pub and General Store. Picture:


WHILE the Brits have their ‘Dog and Whistles’ and ‘Fox and Hounds’, here in Australia we also have had a few pubs named after ‘man’s best friend’.

There’s the long-gone, infamous colonial pub the ‘Black Dog‘ at Sydney’s Rocks, and, still trading at Kynuna in Queensland, the Blue Heeler Hotel. However, a watering hole with a much-less attractive canine name once traded in outback Queensland known as ‘The Dog and Vomit’.

Unlicensed, the Dog and Vomit, was a shanty pub near the outback town of Adavale, about 930kms west of Brisbane.

Adavale, 1917. Three hotels marked.
(1) Great Western Hotel. (2) Green Gate Hotel. (3) Imperial Hotel. Picture: Flickr: Aussie~mobs

Adavale was established in the 1870s and was once a thriving centre, but the diversion of the railway line to the south — through what would later become the town of Quilpie – saw the population dwindle.

There were four pubs in Adavale in the 1880s – The Imperial, Great Western and Green Gates – all located within the town – and the Blackwater Hotel, which traded about a mile out of Adavale, on the road to Charleville.

The Blackwater Hotel was first mentioned as licensed premises in February 1886 although it is likely the pub began trading as early as 1884. The host was William ‘Billy’ Waterman, who held the license until his death in June 1887. Fredrick Pedder took over the Blackwater Hotel in 1887, until 1888 when he sold to Felix Hawkins Taylor.

Interestingly, Felix Hawkins Taylor was the butler to Sir Anthony Musgrave, the Governor of the colony of Queensland, prior to buying the Blackwater Hotel.

Taylor held the license of the Blackwater Hotel for two years before selling to Alex Shepherd in 1890. Taylor then bought the Great Western Hotel in Adavale before selling and moving back to Brisbane to purchase the Shakespeare Hotel in George Street in 1895.

Alex Shepherd hosted the Blackwater Hotel until 1892 when it seems to have closed, re-opening again in 1896 with Patrick Kelly as host.

The period between 1892 and 1896 may have been when the unlicensed Blackwater Hotel became known locally as The Dog and Vomit.

Enticing tales, handed down through generations of Adavale residents, tell of “Australia’s toughest pub, the old Dog and Vomit”.

The pub was said to have operated from the eastern side of the Blackwater Creek, about a mile or so from Adavale, on the road to Charleville – the site of the Blackwater Hotel.

Evidence of The Dog and Vomit’s existence only survives through memories and intriguing brief mentions in old newspaper articles – and an old bottle dump, about a mile out of Adavale.

The stories of how The Dog and Vomit gained its name have been taken to the grave by those who knew, like Adavale old-timer, Pat Ryan.

Pat briefly recalled the town’s pubs in a reminiscence published in a few newspapers during 1935.

Pat had been a resident of Adavale for many years, and, in spite of all his years under the western Queensland sun, he was reportedly said to have had a strange, un-sunburnt complexion; his voice was soft, and his eyes were clear.

An old bottle dump at the site of the Blackwater Hotel, just outside Adavale. Picture: Craig Murray, Adavale – Outback History South-Western Queensland Facebook Page.

There was nothing that gave him more pleasure than to recall the early days of Adavale. There were once four hotels, he said, one of which was owned by a Mrs Cronin, who became an outback legend after donating £2500 to striking shearers in 1891.

Pat, in his reminiscences, recalled the Great Western, a pub pulled apart to be made into a dance hall at Quilpie, and the Imperial, which burnt to the ground in 1931. But his most enticing revelation was of a pub called The Dog and Vomit.

Except for Pat revealing that it was condemned under the licensing act, and later demolished, little is known about The Dog and Vomit. When prompted, Pat would comment no further on the pub, except to repress a smile.

The riddle of who ran the pub, and how it got its unattractive name though, have yet to be solved.

When Patrick Kelly relicensed the Blackwater Hotel in 1896 it was described as having two sitting rooms, six bedrooms, and one bar room. There was also a four-stall stable in the pub yard. Kelly had previously held the license for the Imperial Hotel in Adavale between 1890 to 1896 before successfully re-opening the Blackwater Hotel.

Kelly transferred the license to John Regan in 1901. By 1905, Edward ‘Ted ‘ Donohue became licensee of the Blackwater Hotel. He would be officially its last publican.

Born in Tipperary, Ireland in 1869, he came to Australia at a young age before taking-up duties as a driver with Cobb & Co. in outback Queensland. Ted drove the coaches along the lonely and dusty roads between Charleville, Tambo, Adavale and Windorah.

Great Western Hotel, Adavale, 1918. The hotel closed in 1920 and was dismantled and removed to Quilpie where it became a boarding house. Picture: Adavale: Outback History South Western Queensland Facebook Page.

In his early 30s, Ted was licensee of the Great Western Hotel at Adavale before taking over as host of the Blackwater Hotel on the road to Charleville in 1905. In his obituary, published in the Charleville Times on January 21, 1954, Ted was described as one of the last of the district’s colourful pioneers.

Many amusing little stories could be told of Ted’s life, one in particular was when he owned the Blackwater Hotel. He owned a sulky and a donkey; sometimes he would hear of some old-timer blowing up a cheque in Adavale; at that time there were three hotels in Adavale; he would yoke up the donkey and drive in, find his man, have a few drinks, and land him back to finish his cheque with him.

Ted Donohue. Picture: Adavale: Outback History South Western Queensland Facebook Page.

Donohue’s Blackwater Hotel closed about 1910. For about seven years after 1910 was another period of time the Blackwater Hotel could have gained the ‘Dog and Vomit’ alter-ego, before it was demolished sometime before 1920.

Local historian and administrator of the Adavale – Outback History South-West Queensland Facebook Page, Craig Murray, tells me the exact year the pub was demolished is unknown. He believes though, due to its location on the Blackwater Creek flood plain, the former pub unlikely survived the devastating floods of 1917.

Mr Murray also believes that old Ted Donohue had nothing to do with The Dog and Vomit.

“My uncle knew him well and it was never mentioned (that he had The Dog and Vomit). My uncle recalled that old Ted was a typical Irish character, with a cracking sense of humour, cheeky, could fight, was fiery when he had a few, and surprisingly was a voracious reader and never threw away a book, magazine or newspaper. He was my Great Aunt’s father in law.”

Ted Donohue died at the age of 85 in Charleville Base Hospital in January 1954 leaving a large family of eight grown-up children. His wife had predeceased him by 17 years.

At the 2006 census, Adavale had a population of about 15, with just one pub left to service the thirsts of the community – The iconic Adavale Pub and General Store.

Of Adavale’s three pubs from the 1880s, the first to close was the Great Western.

The Great Western Hotel, owned by Paddy Furlong, was purchased by Mary Wildy in 1920, who closed the business and moved the building to Quilpie, where it became a boarding house.

The Great Western Hotel and the Green Gate Hotel, Adavale, 1911. Picture: State Library of Queensland.

The Great Western’s closure in 1920 left two pubs in town – the Imperial and the Green Gate. Reporting on the Great Western’s closure, the Toowoomba Chronicle stated on November 20 1920:

One by one the hotels seem to be disappearing in the back country, more especially on the bush roads. The motor cars have played up with road-side hotels. There have been a great many closed this last 18 months, and others are to close in the near future. 

The Imperial was the next pub lost to the town. The hotel was destroyed by fire in 1930, leaving just the Green Gate to service the thirsts of the town.

Imperial Hotel, Adavale, 1928. The hotel was destroyed by fire in 1930. Picture: State Library of Queensland.
The Green Gate Hotel, Adavale, 1928. Note the presumably green picket gate hanging from the posts outside the pub. The Green Gate Hotel was destroyed by fire in 1972. Picture: State Library of Queensland.
Green Gate Hotel, Adavale, 1928, showing the gate. Picture: State Library of Queensland.

The Green Gate Hotel was also destroyed by fire in 1972 under mysterious circumstances. The licence was removed to the old Adavale hospital building for a short time, before it was removed again to the old general store, located across from where the original Green Gate had been reduced to ashes. This enabled George and Aileen Costello to re-establish the pub at the store in mid 1974. They sold it in 1982.

The old store continues to trade as a pub in Adavale to this day.

The Adavale Pub & Store was in recent years awarded “Best Bush Pub” by Queensland Hotel Association. The pub is famous for its giant beer can and enormous bullock horns.

*Additional information: Craig Murray, Adavale – Outback History South-Western Queensland Facebook Page.

First published 2017. Updated 2023.

© Copyright Mick Roberts 2023

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1 reply

  1. You may, Craig… The information contained in this post came from the sources detailed within the story.

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