LEGEND has it that at one time you couldn’t throw a stone in the Western Australian goldfield towns of Kalgoorlie and Boulder without hitting a hotel.
After the discovery of gold in 1893, pubs began springing-up all over the frontier twin townships, and by the end of the 19th century there were reportedly over 45 watering holes within Kalgoorlie alone!
With a population of 31,666, the Kalgoorlie Licensing District had 97 pubs in 1911. In comparison, Perth in 1911, with a population of 47,882, had just 50 hotel licenses.
Besides the 97 pubs, there four wine saloons in the Kalgoorlie Licensing District, four wine and beer shops, 317 eating houses (licensed to sell alcohol), five clubs and nine breweries in 1911.
The formation of the Western Australia Licensing Reduction Board, coupled with a dramatic fall in population in 1911, triggered a slow – but steady – decline in the number of pubs in the Kalgoorlie – Boulder region.
After hearing evidence for several days, the Licences Reduction Board forced the closure of 29 hotels in the Kalgoorlie – Boulder district from March 31, 1923. The hotels delicensed were:
British Arms, Crown, Royal, Surrey, White Hart, Broken Hill, Golden District Maritana, Locomotive, Savoy, Shamrock, Tivoli, All Nations, National, and the Star Wine and Beer Saloon.
Exchange, Launceston, Portland, Union Club, City Arms, Federal, Globe, Gold Miners’ Arms. Newcastle, Railway, Miners’ Rest, Australian Bar.
Another nine joined the casualty list in March 1927 when the Licensing Reduction Board forced the closure of the following pubs:
- Commonwealth Hotel, John Quinlan, licensee; Mrs. Miles, owner.
- Overland Hotel, Williamstown, Emma Opperman, licensee; the Kalgoorlie Brewery, owner.
- Racecourse Hotel, Daniel Hegarty, licensee and owner.
- South Kalgoorlie Hotel, Mrs. Augusta Buckman, licensee; David Laurence Power, owner.
- Queensland Hotel, David Fienberg, licensee; J. Rinaldi and others, owners.
- Angel Hotel, Jack Stout, licensee; Robert J. Gledden, owner.
- Criterion Hotel, Elsie M. Armstrong, licensee; Patrick Langden, owner.
- Goldfields Group Hotel, Amy Forbes, licensee; Kalgoorlie Brewery, owners.
- Trafalgar Hotel, Annie Casey, licensee; E. Pauley, owner
As the population of Kalgoorlie and Boulder continued to fall, so did the number of pubs.
Compared to 1911, there was a decrease in population of 13,203 in the Kalgoorlie Licensing District in 1928 – with 18,463 people now calling the region home.
As a consequence over half of its hotels had disappeared over the 17 year period from 1911 to 1928. There were 43 hotel licenses in the Kalgoorlie Licensing District in 1928 – a decrease of 54 pubs since 1911.
Despite this, the goldfields continued to be a much thirstier city than its coastal capital, Perth.
Kalgoorlie in 1928 had one pub to every 429 people, while Perth, with a population of 74,971 had one pub to every 1562 people!
By 1941 the number of pubs in Kalgoorlie had continued to fall with the population, and had almost halved again. Within a radius of two miles of the Kalgoorlie Post Office, 23 pubs served a population of between 12,000 and 15,000.
Today (2022) there are 14 pubs operating in Kalgoorlie and another eight in Boulder.
- Criterion Hotel
- Federal Hotel
- Flanagan’s Bar
- Gala Tavern
- Grand Hotel
- Hannans Hotel
- Inland City Hotel
- Kalgoorlie Hotel
- North End Tavern
- Palace Hotel
- Piccadilly Hotel
- Star & Garter Hotel
- Tower Hotel
- York Hotel
- Albion Hotel
- Broken Hill Hotel
- Golden Eagle Hotel
- Grand Hotel
- Main Reef Tavern
- Metropole Hotel
- Recreation Hotel
- Rock Inn Hotel
The following is a list of pubs that traded in the Western Australian gold mining town during the mid 1890s, put together in 1941 by a newspaper contributor by the name of ‘Count Kanowna’ from Salmon Gums. Salmon Gums is a small town in Western Australia, located 106km north of Esperance on the Coolgardie-Esperance Highway. The Perth newspaper, the Western Mail published the list on May 15, 1941:
“OLD hands delight in ferreting around in their minds for the names of the pubs that slaked dust-caked throats in Kalgoorlie 45 years ago. With the help of Mr, W. C. J. Hill, pioneer goldfields publican and well known horseman, I have compiled a list of pubs that flourished within a radius of two miles of the Kalgoorlie Post Office in the nineties.”
Here is the list by street name, 47 in all:
- Hannan-street, left-hand side going west: Federal; Goldfields (delicensed) ; Criterion (delicensed – now Savoy Cafe); Broken Hill (delicensed); Exchange; Palace; Victoria; Oriental; York; Globe (delicensed); Marble Bar (delicensed); Kalgoorlie; and Star and Garter. There were three wine and beer saloons Daly’s, Alderdice’s and Armanasco’s.
- Hannan-street, right-hand side going west: Duke of Cornwall (W. C. J. Hill proprietor three times); Crown Shades (delicensed, bar was underground, and hence pub was known as the “Dug-Out”) ; Grand (built by Stevenson); Central (delicensed – also known as the Black Swan and City); Australia; Commercial; White Heart (delicensed); National (delicensed, Jerry McAuliffe, proprietor) ; Shamrock (delicensed, Faddy Whelan, proprietor); and Home from Home (renamed Hannans after Kalgoorlie riots of 1934 when it was burnt by rioters).
- Brookman-street: West Kalgoorlie: Golden District (delicensed).
- Dugan-street: Her Majesty’s (next to Tivoli Theatre, delicensed).
- Forrest-street: Torbay Arms (delicensed, opposite goods sheds) ; Telluride (delicensed); Queensland (delicensed): Royal (delicensed); Inland City (previously the Champion, name changed by Mr. Hill); Railway.
- Piccadilly-street: Piccadilly; Locomotive (delicensed – on the flat opposite the Queensland and Telluride). [A contributor believes the Locomotive Hotel was located in Wittenoom Street].
- Maritana-street: Tower; Great Boulder (delicensed); Surrey (delicensed); Maritana (delicensed); Mt. Lyell; Foundry; Half-Way (delicensed).
- Macdonald-street: Union Club; and Commonwealth (delicensed).
- Cheetham-street: Gala; Racecourse (delicensed, near Kalgoorlie racecourse).
- Outridge-terrace: Glen Devon (de-licensed); British Arms (delicensed). Parkeston: Rising Sun Hotel (Bull Bennit, proprietor).
- Williamstown: (Mr Hill, proprietor).
Forty-five years ago there were 47 pubs to about 15,000 to 20,000 people. Today,  within a radius of two miles of the post office 23 pubs serve a population of between 12,000 and 15,000.
For more history of the pubs of Kalgoorlie-Boulder and the infamous pub riots of 1898 and 1934 visit: Kalgoorlie’s pub riots: WA Premier threatened at Wilkies in 1898 and two men killed during 1934 racial riots
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Categories: Western Australia hotels