Fire destroyed Emu Park’s Grand Hotel

Grand Hotel Emu Park
The Grand Hotel on the site currently occupied by Pine Beach Hotel at Emu Park. Picture: The Capricornian Thursday 31 March 1927

THE site of the Pine Beach Hotel at Emu Park, near Rockhampton, Queensland, has been home to a hotel since 1871.

The first pub in Emu Park, the Brighton opened on the site in 1871, and in 1879 it was renovated and renamed the Blue Bell.

The pub’s sign was changed to the Sea View Hotel in January 1887 before it was completely demolished and renamed the Grand Hotel in 1888. The Rockhampton Capricornian reported on Saturday, November 24, 1888:

Grand Hotel, Emu Park, 1890. Picture: Supplied


This new hotel is erected on the site of the old Blue Bell Hotel, the first building erected at the Park, and kept for so many years by Mrs. Pearson, now of Derby-street, Rockhampton. It is of wood, two-stories high, and situated at the junction of Granville and Pattison Streets. It has been built by Mr. Morris H. Harris, of the On Stanley On Hotel, Rockhampton, at a cost of nearly £2000, and leased by him to Mr. W. Birch. It is the prettiest place in the town ship, and is in such a central position that it may be seen from every portion of it. It has a frontage of 80ft to each street independent of the kitchen and other out buildings. The height of the rooms on the ground floor is 13ft 6in., and on the upper floor 12ft On the lower floor are the dining room 24ft. by 21ft; reading room, 20ft by 14ft; billiard room, 23ft by 20ft; bar, 20ft square ; as well as the proprietor’s quarters, bedroom, and sitting room. The dining and reading rooms are separated by sliding doors which can be thrown open, giving an available length of 40ft. The billiard room is at present used as a private dining room, but it is the intention of the proprietor to purchase a good table and the other necessary appointments very shortly. This room is well ventilated, and has verandahs on three rides of it. The arrangements of the dining room are unique in this district, as instead of the usual long table there are several small ones at each of which a quartet or so of friends can be accommodated. At the rear of the main building, but also on the ground floor, there are three store rooms a kitchen fitted with a large cooking range and oven, and all other necessary appliances, servants1 bedrooms, &c. the upper floor which is approached by a staircase leading from the entrance hall in Granville Street, is divided into sixteen bedrooms, single and double, private sitting rooms 20ft. square, bathroom, At the corner of the street to is a tower, 40 ft high, and with a floor space at the summit 12 ft square. From this eminence a magnificent view can be obtained of the marine grandeur of the Park, and its surroundings. There are verandahs and balconies all round the building and connected with it and adjoining the residence of Mr. Rees R. Jones, M.L.A., is a four roomed cottage. This can be secured by private families who do not care to take up their residence in the main building. There are also the usual outhouses and stables for the accommodation of horses and vehicles.

The hotel traded until 1908 when a tragic fire destroyed the building and claimed the life of the District Inspector of Schools, T. Russell Brown. The Brisbane Worker reported on November 28, 1908:

Fire at Emu Park

The Grand Hotel at Emu Park, a seaside resort near Rockhampton, was destroyed by fire last week. The inmates had all retired to rest, and some of them had barely time to escape with their lives. Mr. T. Russell Brown, District Inspector of Schools, who was among the lodgers, was so seriously burned while making his escape that he succumbed to his injuries next morning.

The Pine Beach Hotel, 1920s. Picture: Supplied

After the fire, a large private residence was built on the site, until wealthy property owner, Catherine Begg bought the property in 1926, converting the building into a hotel, and giving it the sign ‘The Pine Beach’. See story: Giant crocodile captivated visitors at Emu Park’s Pine Beach Hotel for decades

The Pine Beach Hotel, in upgraded and updated premises, has traded from the site until the present day (2022).

Do you know when the current Pine Beach Hotel was built? Place your comments below or email:

* Supplied pictures: Emu Park Historical Society

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