Walbundrie publican’s tragic ‘last shot’

Walbundrie Hotel Walbundrie 1925 ANU

The Walbundrie Hotel, Walbundrie, NSW, 1925. Picture: Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University


JIMMY and Ada Mitchell’s is a tale of what could have been. A tragic story of a newly married couple’s life journey, cut short.

Jimmy survived the battle fields of World War One, only to be killed accidentally by his own fire arm while shooting for rabbits in the Riverina region of NSW.

A returned soldier, James Walter Mitchell served in the Australian 9th Battalion for four years during the Great War before becoming a bush publican in 1925. Prior to taking on his pub, Jim had worked for four years as a steward at the Albury Club.

In January 1925, Jimmy married Susana Ada Donnelly, the daughter of the publican of the Walbundrie Hotel, Walbundrie, a village about 100km south of Wagga Wagga, near the bank of Billabong Creek.

The young couple took over the running of the Walbundrie Hotel, with Jimmy gaining the license days after his marriage. Tragedy struck just seven months after Jimmy’s marriage to Ada. In August 1925 he was out shooting rabbits with a couple of mates, on Jones’ property, Bulgandra Road, three miles from Walbundrie.

The three men jumped into a sulky to return home when Jimmy’s loaded gun was apparently cocked, and resting against his body on the tray of the vehicle. As he was saying to his companions, “I’m going to have my last shot at a rabbit,” the gun went off.

The charge entered Jimmy’s head, practically tearing away his forehead. He was rushed to Albury Hospital, and an operation was performed, but he died the following morning.

Jimmy was just 32 years of age. The publican was a popular young man, formerly a playing member of the Albury Football Club, and was a favourite with the drinkers at his pub. Besides his young wife, Ada, he left three brothers and two sisters.

Jimmy’s widow, Ada, took over the license of the pub until December 1925, until F. Collins took the reins.

Seemingly heart-broken, Ada never remarried after Jimmy’s death. By the mid 1930s she was working as a barmaid at the Temple Court Hotel, on the south-west corner of Queen and Little Collins Streets, Melbourne. She called the inner-city pub home for more than 20 years before her death in July 1953.

Ada, while on a visit to Wagga Wagga to visit her sister, collapsed and died at the age of 70. Jimmy and Ada’s pub at Walbundrie continues to trade, while the Temple Court Hotel has long been demolished and replaced with an inner-city high-rise.

© Copyright Mick Roberts 2019

Temple Court Hotel Melbourne 1954

The Temple Court Hotel, on the south-west corner of Queen and Little Collins Streets, Melbourne, where Ada spent her remaining years as a barmaid and in retirement.


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Categories: NSW hotels

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1 reply

  1. Looks very much the same today….we owned this pub from 1986 until about 2004. Notice the lace work missing on bar side verandah in this pic. We put new lace work there sometime in our tenure….I wonder if it was missing all that time? Wonderful pub.

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