Appin Hotel was established on the busy main road between Sydney and Illawarra in the 1840s

Appin Hotel Appin NSW 1929 ANU
The Royal Hotel, Appin C1930. Picture: Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University.
Appin Hotel Appin NSW under construction 1930 ANU
The demolition of the Royal Hotel Appin in 1930. The new ‘replacement’ hotel can be seen under construction to the left. Picture: Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University.

AN entertaining story was published in the newspaper, the Sydney Mail, on April 30 1930 to mark the demolition of Appin’s historic Royal Hotel. A Fellow of the Royal Australian Historical Society, Frank Walker penned the story, which revealed how the old inn was established in the 1840s, when the road between Campbelltown and the Illawarra was the main route from Sydney.

Historic Appin

ANOTHER link with the past has been done away with in the old Royal Hotel, Appin, NSW, which is now in the hands of the demolishers. Although the building had an ancient appearance, it did not go further back than the ’40’s, when the road between Campbelltown and the coast carried much traffic, and trade was brisk at the old hostelry.

It was a fine, substantial building, with very thick walls, having a balcony along the whole front and one of the old-fashioned lamp brackets suspended over the doorway on the outside. The old hotel was an important stopping place for the coaches before the South Coast railway was built, and its old fashioned lounge, mounted on fanciful iron standards, under the verandah, and flanked by the huge horse-trough in the cleared space before the hotel, spoke eloquently of’ other days.

Many of these old inns were sometimes called upon to repel attacks by bushrangers; so no pains were spared to make the buildings strong enough to with stand a siege.

These old-time places speak to us across a gap of years, in which are bound up a sheaf of events, whose nature and far-reaching effects, have had their influence in the past, sixty or seventy years of Australian history.

There is a tradition that this building was designed as a country residence for Governor Bourke, but there is no historical evidence to prove that this is so, as this particular Governor left the colony in 1837 – some years before the hotel was built. The Appin district has had a long and interesting history, dating as far back as 1811, when the first land grant was made to William Broughton.

In 1821 Hamilton Hume left the neighbourhood to carry out a successful expedition across country to Jervis Bay, and four years later, viz., on October 2, 1824, the same explorer commenced his famous journey to Port Phillip, starting from his residence near Appin. It was not until many years later that the village came info being, the road to the coast passing through it.

The Royal was replaced with a new two storey brick hotel to the north in 1930, which continues to trade as the Appin Hotel.

Raymond Lindsay recalled the old Royal Hotel at Appin in an article published in the Sydney Mail on December 6, 1933: 

SOME of these early wayside inns assumed a more pretentious style of architecture, and the Royal Hotel at Appin, which was built in the thirties and only demolished a few years ago, was a good example of another type often found over the countryside. It was built of cut and dressed stone with two stories, and had the traditional swinging signboard over the horse trough. I remember staying there once, and found it a fascinating old place, honeycombed with winding stairways and creaking passages. What, however, appealed to me most was the romantic, if morbid, story that the publican’s wife told us of a bushranger who had been hanged in the courtyard at the back. We had hopes that night of meeting his ghost; but unfortunately they had as little foundation as her story, for I have never been able to find any authentication for it. The Appin road was once the only outlet to the South Coast, and much coaching traffic passed along it; but that came to an end when the railway line was extended in the eighties past the then existing terminus at Waterfall. The old inn fell into a decline, but now a handsome modern hotel has replaced it to cater for week-end motor-car tourists. 

Appin Hotel Appin NSW 1949 ANU
The Royal Hotel, Appin, 1949. Picture: Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University.
The Appin Hotel, 1971. Picture: Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University.
Appin Hotel Apprin NSW 2018 TG
The Appin Hotel, 2018. Picture: Mick Roberts Collection

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