THERE’S nothing to suggest, along a lonely stretch of highway about 35km north of Coonamble on the central-western plains of NSW, that a future King of England once called into a bush pub and shouted the bar.
There’s nothing remaining of the wayside inn, just a dry, parched paddock, at the south-east corner of the Castlereagh Highway and Wingadee Road, and a small memorial plaque.
Edward, Prince of Wales arrived in Australia on a Royal Visit on May 26 1920, representing his father, King George, to thank Australians for their participation in the First World War.
The Prince had a few adventures ‘down-under’, that would endear him to Australians. During the tour, his railway carriage overturned near Bridgetown, Western Australia. However, the Prince was unharmed and made light of the situation, emerging from the wreck with important papers and a cocktail shaker, prompting the nickname the “Digger Prince”.
What also endeared him to Australians was his widely reported visit to the Tyrone Hotel, along the Castlereagh Highway between Coonamble and Walgett. He was on his way to take part in a pig drive and a kangaroo hunt at Wingadee Station.
As a consequence, the pub became famous when the Prince, on his way to Wingadee Station on horseback, galloped ahead of the escort. He reached the Tyrone Hotel, hosted at the time by Weldon Curran. The Royal visitor shouted the bar – including the cook – and had one himself. The spot on which he stood was marked, and the glass he used was reportedly preserved in a case. His Royal Highness also later attended the Coonamble races where he was greeted with enthusiastic cheering.
The Tyron Hotel was built by the owners of Wingadee Station, Messrs. A. Tobin and Sons, and leased to 59 year-old Andrew C. Black, and his wife, Sarah in 1894.
The Backs, with their 11-year-old son, Bill, were only at the hotel a short time when tragedy struck. Sarah, who had been ill, died as a result of extreme heat. The Sydney Evening News’ Coonamble correspondent reported on January 15 1896 that the thermometer recorded 112 degrees Fahrenheit or almost 45 degrees Celsius in the shade in many places: “Mrs. Back, of the Tyrone Hotel, died this morning, death being due mainly to heat. The deceased had been ailing for some time.”
Andrew Back died in 1910 at Coonamble at the age of 75.
After the Backs, Joseph Gilligan became host through the remainder of the 1890s. A number of licensees hung their names over the door during the remaining decades the pub traded.
The last publican of the Tyrone Hotel was William Macken. The license of the hotel was transferred to Armatree, 35km north of Gilgrandra, enabling the Armatree Hotel to open on the Castlereagh Highway in time for Christmas 1929.
The Gilgandra Weekly reported on December 12 1929 that the “old landmark – the Tyrone Hotel – will cease to exist as an hotel after the 18th December, when the license will be transferred to the Hotel Armatree, which will be opened by Mr. W. T. Macken”.
The Tyrone Hotel was demolished in 1934.
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Categories: NSW hotels