Burraga’s long gone pubs

Royal Hotel Burraga NSW 1920 ANU

The Royal Hotel, Burraga, NSW, C1925. Picture: Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University

AS the saying goes, Burraga on the central tablelands of NSW these days is ‘as dry as a dead dingo’s donga’ when it comes to pubs.

The village lies 47km south west of Oberon, and about 67km south of Bathurst. When the copper mine was in full swing at the turn of last century, two pubs serviced the thirsts of a population of 10,000.

These days, Burraga is a much quieter place. The pubs have disappeared, and a lone general store, and the Burraga Sports and Services Club caters to the needs of the population of about 250.

The last of Burraga’s pubs closed back in 1933, and there’s an interesting story connected to why the publican of the day, William Henderson asked for the cancellation of his license.

The Mudgee Guardian reported a “remarkable story”, which unfolded at the Bathurst Licensing Court, when Henderson asked for the voluntary surrender of the license of the Burraga Hotel.

Three customers, who had inherited a small fortune of £1800 between them, had become real good customers, and their liberality was no doubt responsible for things looking up for a time. Of his dozen clients, the publican said, three visited the hotel daily. These were ‘moneyed men’; they had had money left to them; they were generally around the hotel at 9 o’clock in the morning and don’t leave until closing time; they went home to lunch, shortly after which they returned; they were there practically all day and every day. He was not sure how much wealth was left to them, but it was somewhere about £600 each. He did not think they had much of that money left, as they had been spending at a great rate for many months, never being away from the place. Henderson went on to say that the other 20 per cent of his customers he seldom saw. They mostly came to the hotel on Saturday afternoons. Generally speaking, the residents of the town patronised the hotel very little. Really the only town patronage was from the trio who struck it a bit rich.

Henderson got his wish, and Burraga’s last pub closed for business in March 1933. A decade later the delicensed pub was totally destroyed by fire. The Bathurst National Advocate reported on Thursday 14 May 1942.

Fire of unknown origin completely destroyed in 20 minutes the old disused Grand Hotel building at Burraga on Tuesday. The building was razed to the ground. Breaking out shortly after 1pm the fire enveloped the 45 years old weatherboard structure and fanned by a gale whistling through the township, the flames thwarted efforts by the local bush fire brigade to gain control by playing water on the fire from a nearby tank. The building has been delicensed as a hotel for several years. Up to 18 months ago it had been used as a residential. The owner is believed to be Mr Tom William, a former well known local identity, but efforts to trace him have so far proven unsuccessful It is said previous tenants of the building endevoured to locate the owner to pay their rent but he could not be found. The Burraga police are working on a theory regarding the cause of fire.

There was another pub at Burraga. The Royal.

Royal Hotel Burraga map

Map showing the location of the Royal Hotel, Burraga, C1925. Picture: Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University

Royal Hotel Burraga NSW 1930 ANU

The Royal Hotel, Burraga, NSW, 1930, three years before it was destroyed by fire. The public hall, which continues to service the community, can be seen to the rear of the hotel. Picture: Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University

The Royal was licensed by Jim Milton when the town was at its peak in the year 1900. The single storey timber pub was located at the south west corner of Edgar Hanrahan Drive and Lloyd Street. There a community hall partly on the site today.

The licensing court heard at the time that a second hotel was much needed, with over 500 men working at the copper mine, and the town’s only other pub packed to the rafters.

The Royal Hotel traded successfully for almost 32 years before a fire mysteriously destroyed the single storey timber premises. The Mudgee Guardian reported on Monday September 12 1932:


In the early hours of Friday morning, the Royal Hotel at Burraga was completely destroyed by fire and the occupants narrowly escaped being trapped by the flames. The building, which was a single storey, wooden structure, erected 32 years ago, burnt like matchwood, and was rased to the ground.

site of royal hotel burraga google streetview

The vacant corner of of Edgar Hanrahan Drive and Lloyd Street, where the Royal Hotel once traded. An updated version of the public hall continues to service the community. Picture: Google Streetview


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Categories: NSW hotels

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