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Goolwa Hotel

Page history last edited by Dawn Juers 10 years, 1 month ago

GOOLWA HOTEL – talk Nov 07



The Goolwa Hotel, on 7 Cadell Street, is one of the oldest hotels on the South Coast. It was built in 1853, and the first licence was granted to John Verco jnr, in December of that year. John had the licence for 11 years, followed by about 37 owners or lessees.


In August of the following year, the barque ‘Mozambique’ was wrecked by the treacherous Coorong/Murray Mouth waters.

The ‘Mozambique’ was an old barge, sailing from Fremantle to Adelaide, but during the voyage she developed an overwhelming leak. The crew attempted to pump, but with the barge about to founder, the captain decided to beach the vessel on the Coorong, not far from the Murray Mouth.


There were 24 passengers and 22 crew aboard. The first person to render assistance was James Law of upper Finniss, who said he had been in his boat and decided to set up camp and light a fire. He heard someone “cooeying”. He went towards the sound of the voice, and met the captain, who said they had been wrecked and had nothing to eat. James gave the captain 40lbs of flour, and next day rowed him, 4 of his crew, and 11 others, including 2 children, four females and five other passengers, to Goolwa.

John Verco of the Goolwa Hotel provided both food and accommodation for these people.


To show his appreciation, Captain Corcoran gave Mr Varcoe tables and chairs, the ship’s figurehead, and the ship’s staircase, along with the ship’s piano and cedar sideboard. Even today, you will notice some of these items around the hotel. Some of the chairs have teeth marks on them, where it is said sailors had races on deck, holding the chairs in their teeth.


Captain Corcoran having survived the disaster of the ‘Mozambique’, sailed for Adelaide on the brig ‘Harry’. Off Pt Willunga, the vessel was wrecked, and Capt Corcoran was drowned.


Extensive renovations were done to the hotel in 1857, and the staircase from the ship was used, when an extra storey was added for bedrooms. Another tale is that cedar from the ship was used to make the staircase. Richard Smith Newell is believed to have done the renovations.


Some say the ship’s 60ft mast and spars were used as floor joists in what is now the gaming room, others that they were used for the cellar roof.


In 1999 after years of being held together with coats of paint, the figurehead was restored, and a fiberglass copy made. The original figurehead is now in the dining room, and the fiberglass copy is fixed outside on the plinth of the building, where the original sat for over 100yrs, and before that, over the two-storey stables, which were at the back of the hotel, later replaced by garages in c1945.


The leases over the time have produced some interesting covenants, such as – “the lessee or any tenant of the lessee, will not carry on offensive trade, but the carrying on of the trade, or business of a licensed publican, shall not be construed to be ‘offensive trade’. Gordon Lawrence wrote that he remembered as a child “the temperance bar was in operation fully enclosed, separating non-drinkers”.


The pricing schedule was changed over the years, for ale was quoted as per barrel, per kilderkin, per 10gallon keg, per 5 gallon keg and then references were deleted altogether.

[a kilderkin = 18 gallons or nearly 82 litres. 2 Firkins makes 1 kilderkin.

Kilderkin is related to kintal another name for the English measure of 100hundred weight, and comes from the Arabic word qintar.]


In World War 11 a Mrs Alice Green had the lease of the hotel, and had to sign a document declaring that the provisions of the National Security Regulations were not contravened.


In 1988 a drive-in bottle shop was added. If customers cut out an advert for the Hotel in ‘The Southern Argus’they were presented with a free bottle of champagne!


It is said, that even though Simpson Newland lived in Victor Harbor, he wrote a large part of his novel ‘Paving The Way’ in the upstairs section of the Goolwa Hotel. 


The Goolwa Hotel has a very active Social Club who’ve supported the local charities and sport for many years.


The present owners, Terry and Ian Cross, have been at the hotel since 1999. The dining room features the history of the area, with many models of the paddlesteamers in a glass case, and photographs of paddlesteamers, and historic Goolwa township, on the walls.


(talk given by Dawn Juers on 23/11/07)


[Compiled and researched by Dawn Juers]


WA Pretty file

Land Abounding by Rob Linn

Article in Goolwa Newsletter by Gordon Lawrence



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