Rocky Hall Pub
No Date
Jean McPaul Collection, Eden Killer Whale Museum

MAX. And Charlie Laing we were talking about, oh, he was a devil when he was drunk. He was over at the plonk shop one night and he was drunk and was tormenting us. We took him and put him in one of Darcy's beds over there and Trevor Tasker had taken a load of wattle bark down to the mill that day and he was back there and we went and got one of his ropes, and to stop Charlie from tormenting us we wound the rope around the bed and around him and tied him in. That was the same night as Ronnie Haigh killed the rooster. So, anyway, Ronnie turns up and Charlie's in there singing out, 'Help me. Help me.' Ronnie goes in and, 'Oh, the poor bugger,' he says. He goes out and gets one of Darcy's butcher knives, and this was a brand new rope of Trevor Tasker's and he cut the rope along one side of the bed and got Charlie out. Oh there were some stories that come out of there. Arthur Beasley rode a horse right in through that bar, one time.
MAX. It was a bet that Arthur was saying that this horse was the quietest horse around and he could ride him anywhere. And big Alf Tasker said, 'I bet you can't ride him through here.' And he did. He rode him up on to the veranda in to the bar and right through to the kitchen and out through the hallway. Topsy was nearly having green kittens. Darcy was saying, 'Christ, Spot'll be on to you.'
*** Excerpt from Max Sawers' interview in 'The Forgotten Corner Interviews'.

The Towamba valley in the 1890's was a remote area (in most cases it is still classed as remote in this year 2001). Its pioneers worked hard from dawn to dusk and at times into the dark. Their place of unwinding, yarning, and getting the latest news, was the local pub or wine bar. These places also gave accommodation to the bullock and horse team drivers who carted their loads from the coast to the Monaro and back again and any travellers who were passing through.
There was the Rocky Hall pub at the foot of the escarpment on the Big Jack Mountain Road which was the route from the Monaro down to the coast. At New Buildings the road divided and one route crossed the Towamba River and wound towards Wyndham where the Robbie Burns Hotel quenched a thirst. That route continued down towards Pambula and on to Merimbula wharf where the drivers would load their drays with produce and ordered goods for the return trip.

From New Buildings the Big Jack Mountain Road continued ahead towards Burrgate and Towamba. The Towamba Hotel didn't have a long life as it was burnt to the ground shortly after it was completed. In later years the Towamba Wine Saloon was built. It had a small bar and offered accommodation to anyone passing through. From Towamba the teams would then continue over the mountain to the Eden wharf to deliver or collect goods and produce from the coastal steamers.

HALL PUB. 1907
Rocky Hall Pub. No date

'Pambula Voice' July 7, 1893
* Host Thomas of the Towamba Hotel has sold out to Mr. Clohessy late of Nimitibel.
TOWAMBA HOTEL. Publican Mr. Joseph McKee. c 1905.
(Note men holding what look like certificates and men sitting on steps have rifles and men standing in front of steps
aiming rifles.
Possibly after Towamba Rifle Club won an event.)

McKee fell foul of Constable R. Dunn and lost his licence in about 1910 when the hotel was taken over by A. Robinson.
Jean McPaul Collection, Eden Killer Whale Museum

'Pambula Voice' October 20, 1893
* Our new host Mr. Clohessy has been making large additions and extensive improvements at the Towamba Hotel. These will add to the comfort of visitors and travellers whose interests appear to be Mr. Clohessy's first consideration.

'Pambula Voice' May 19, 1893
* The hotel at Rocky Hall having been condemned as a licensed premises by the Government Inspector, Mr Sheehy, is now erecting a commodious building to be called "Big Jack Hotel". It will consist of nine rooms, the parlour is situated as far as possible from the bar, and approached by a separate gate entrance on the verandah.
Stabling accommodation for six horses and all the other requisite buildings lie within easy distance at the back. Nothing has been left undone to make it a house of superior accommodation for travellers. For excellence of workmanship and durability I only have to mention the Power Bros. as contractors and Stringy Bark and Blue Gum from Myrtle Creek as building materials.
Mrs Eva Arnold will lease the premises together with a paddock of 40 acres at the back. Travellers who have lingered at Rocky Hall will freely testify to the civility and plenteous board always available at the Arnold's Hotel.
The Ballroom will be situated at the opposite side of the road so that there will always be a dry passage to the hotel, which I am sure that the ladies will say is a great improvement. I understand Mr. Gorman has given an adjoining paddock for a race-course

.'Pambula Voice' August 4, 1893

* A licence has been granted to the recently renovated old Rocky Hall Hotel. Mrs Arnold and family will lease the building to be called "The Big Jack Hotel".

'Pambula Voice' August 11, 1893

* The building is now complete and a ball will be held to celebrate the opening of The Big Jack Hotel.

'Pambula Voice' January 5, 1894

* Mr. J. Arnold's racehorse 'Rossetta', a dead heat for 2nd, in the first race. 'Daisy May' first place in the second race.

'Pambula Voice' February 2, 1894
* Mrs. Arnold of the Big Jack Hotel has now succeeded Mr. Whitby in the control of the compact dairy farm known as Rocky Hall Estate. With average seasons she should do well and we wish her success in such a plucky venture.

'Pambula voice' March 9, 1894
* The Big Jack Hotel was totally destroyed by fire early on Saturday morning. About half past four in the morning, some of the inmates were awakened by an unusual noise and getting out of bed and looking for a cause were dismayed to find flames bursting forth from the western end of the building, which portion was unoccupied at the time. The remaining occupants were quickly aroused and several neighbours were soon on the spot, but it was at once seen that any hope of saving the building with the crude appliances at hand was out of the question, as the fire had too firm a hold on the light structure, the pine and canvas lining providing excellent fuel to feed the hungry flames. Not a breathe of wind was stirring, but in a very short time the hotel was destroyed except for the kitchen and the brick chimneys.
The majority of the furniture and all the beer and spirits with the exception of a few casks of spirit was lost. Mrs Eva Arnold and son Joe lost several small articles, watches, ornaments and the account books. No clue as the the origin of the fire is obtained so far but four police are seeking evidence for an inquest to be held during the week. The furniture and stock was insured.

'Pambula Voice' May 6, 1898
* Rumour has it that Mr. M. C. Beck, the worthy boniface of the Rocky Hall Hotel is about to seek fresh fields and pastures new. Mr. and Mrs. Beck's departure will cause much regret here. Their estimable qualities are so universally known that any eulogy by me is needless.

'Pambula Voice' January 18, 1901
* Mr. D. S. McDonald has made a start with his new hotel, the site being cleared and fenced. Building operations have somewhat been delayed owing to the difficulty of getting material delivered on the ground. Mr. McDonald states that satisfactory arrangements have now been made with Mr. D. Heffernan of Bondi sawmills and the timber is expected to arrive here this week. He expects to have the building completed in eight weeks time.

'Pambula Voice' February 1, 1901
* Mr. Charles Jess of Bega has obtained the contract for the erection of Mr. McDonald's new hotel and has commenced work.

August 2, 1901
Transfer of the Publican's license of the federal Hotel, Yambulla, from Mr. D. S. McDonald to Patrick Joseph Curry.

'The Wyalong Advocate and Mining, Agricultural and Pastoral Gazette'
19 July 1902

An hotel keeper named Moore, living at Rocky-hall, Bombala, narrowly escaped drowning whilst attempting to cross the Basin Creek near Rocky Hall. He was driving one horse in a hooded buggy. Immediately on entering the creek the horse was carried off its legs, and washed down 200 yards. The vehicle then capsized. Moore, who is a good swimmer, managed to land just before being swept into the Towamba River, which runs with a very swift current. The buggy was also washed upon the same side as Moore came out.

October 10, 1902
'Bombala Times and Manaro and Coast Districts General Advertiser'

* A Licensing Court was held on Friday, when the applications of G. Arnold, of Towamba Hotel, and Mrs. J. Pike, of the Great Southern Hotel, Eden, for the renewal of the respective publican's license were granted.

March 24, 1905
'Bombala Times and Manaro and Coast Districts General Advertiser'

* Ex-Constable Lea has taken over the Towamba Hotel lately carried on by Mr. George Arnold.

'Pambula Voice' July 21, 1905
On Monday 10th Mr. George Arnold who for eight years has been publican of our hotel and who through a series of misfortunes was compelled to give up the business. He was banqueted if I may so put it, and presented with a purse of sovereigns.
The purse of sovereigns was presented by Mr. G. Martin.
The guest of the evening Mr. George Arnold touchingly thanked his many friends for their expressions and goodwill and for the manner in which it was expressed. He said he always had tried to do his best in attempting to advance the place and it gave him great pleasure to know that his efforts were appreciated. He earnestly trusted that the kindness expressed and tended to him in such an open handed manner as on the present occasion would stimulate to a still better and abler energy in good citizenship. Many expressions of appreciation for the evening followed. The program was further delivered by song and recitation. Auld Lang Syne ended a most enjoyable evening.

Newspaper Unknown

October 4, 1913
Mr. G. Martin is going to build a new hotel. A good deal of timber is already on the ground. This is a move in the right direction, and will certainly be a boon to the travelling public, the present site not being as convenient as could be desired.

April 23, 1914
'Delegate Argus'

* At Wyndham Police Court last week, a well-known coach driver was fined 3 for making use of bad language while playing a game of cards in the local hotel Mr. McCoy, licensee of the Towamba Hotel, was fined 5 for serving after hours.

June 20, 1914
'The Southern Record and Advertiser'

* Mr. Alf. Robinson, the present manager of the Towamba (butter) factory, is applying for a license of the new hotel recently erected there by Mr. G. L. Martin.

March 30, 1918
'The Southern Record and Advertiser'

* Mr. Geo. Martin, Towamba, whose hotel enterprise met with discouragement from the licensing court some time ago, is now having a cut for a wine license.

* Mr. D.J. Grant of this town is about to purchase the Rocky Hall hotel business, Mr. A.L. Twyford having purchased the former's dairy herd and plant.
'Magnet' August 2, 1930
* Renovations to the Robbie Burns Hotel (Wyndham) completed.

'Magnet' September 6, 1930
Messers Waterson and Son are nearing completion of work on the Robbie Burns Hotel whilst Mr. H. Watson is busy painting same. When finally done the hotel will be quite up to date.

'Magnet' 1930


"Allawah"(I Camp Here) Towamba.
19 miles from Eden, on the main road from Eden, via Towamba to the Monaro Tableland.
Entirely under new management. Cleanliness, civility, and attention our motto.
Terms moderate. We solicit and trial.

Phone 1. Mrs. Gait and daughters.

Janet (Hayden) Gait Thomas Gait
Constable Thomas Gait 111 Bess with Rita Dickie nursing John Gait
Thomas Gait with his nephew James Dickie Jennifer Dickie's wedding photo.
Valerie Gait (Thomas III wife) James Dickie with Jennifer
and Esther her guide dog.
.Back row: Thomas Gait IV, Bess, Rita & John. Thomas III died in 1954
Above photos courtesy R. Dickie

'Magnet' June 13, 1931
* Licence renewed of Mrs. Gaits' premises at Towamba.

'Magnet' August 20, 1932

"When you've finished work or sport,
drink Gait's fine Towamba Port."

'Magnet' March 25, 1933
* Jane Elizabeth Gait granted a licence to carry on Wine Saloon at Towamba.

'Magnet' June 23, 1934
* Towamba Wine Saloon licence renewed to Janet Elizabeth Gait.

'Magnet' November 10, 1934
* Mrs. Gait and family who have conducted the Towamba Wine Saloon business for several years past and who have proved themselves excellent citizens during that time are about to leave for fresh fields and intend (as announced elsewhere in this issue) to effect a total clearance of their effects by auction sale on December 8.

'Magnet' November 17, 1934
* Mrs. J.E.Gait who is relinquishing business at Towamba announces an auction sale of her furniture and effects on December 8 . The Saloon will not be closed but will be carried on under different management.

'Magnet' December 22, 1934
* At the licensing court at Eden on Tuesday, a wine license for premises at Towamba was transferred from Mrs. J. Gait to Mr. Ambrose Parker

Towamba Wine Saloon. Now private residence.
Photo courtesy C. Boller
Parker family outside wine saloon. No date.
Photo courtesy M. Mitchell

'Magnet' January 5, 1935
Wine Saloon:: Accommodation House
Has again been taken over by Mrs. E. I. Parker.
Old and new patrons will receive the best of attention.
MEALS at all hours. Best brands of WINES stocked.
Fresh off the ice. Try it all!

Following the departure of Mrs. Gait from Towamba, Mrs. E. I. Parker has resumed the Wine Saloon and accommodation business there. The premises have been thoroughly renovated and within six months a new saloon is to be erected nearby to plans that have been submitted to and provisionally approved by the Licensing Inspector for the district. By advertisement in this issue of the 'Magnet', Mrs. Parker extends to all past and future patrons a cordial welcome to 'THE PINES'.

Ambrose Parker on the veranda of the
Towamba Wine Saloon.

No date.

'Magnet' June 5, 1969
Towamba Wine Saloon Closes.
A business, which had very close links with the gold rush days on the Far South Coast, has closed its doors for the last time.
It was the Towamba Wine Saloon, operated since 1939 by Mr Darcey Parker.
Known affectionately by locals as the "Plonk Shop" the saloon has been forced to close owing to lack of patronage.
The Parker family first became associated with the business as far back as 1942 when it was taken over by the late Ambrose Parker.
It was a flourishing business during the days of the teamsters and the gold rush.

June 22, 1935.
* An application by Ambrose Parker for renewal of a wine licence for premises at Towamba was granted.

By Bernie Cornell
Land sales for Wyndham Village established in 1856 were held in Eden in 1857, when Robert Turbet bought the property on which the hotel now stands. Turbet and his wife Mary Peacock lived in Eden where he worked as a boatman and general hand for the Collector of Customs; and for a time Mary worked for Mary Mowle, the Collector's wife, as a nursemaid. Mary Turbet's sister Ann and her husband Joseph Twyford both worked for Customs. Before marriage, the Peacock sisters worked at Kameruka for the Walker family.
In 1860 Robert was granted a Publicans Licence for an inn at Wyndham which he named the Scottish Chief. The couple had 13 children, four being born in Eden and the rest in Wyndham. The first born, Mary Jane aged six died in Wyndham in 1861 but is buried in Eden in an unknown grave.
In 1865 (Bega Gazette) the inn went up in flames. A guest sleeping in the parlour reported that he was awoken by flames coming up through the floorboards. Six children including baby Margaret narrowly escaped death.
The second inn was built and named the Robbie Burns. Robert had come from Edinburgh in 1849 and married Mary in 1852. Mary and Ann arrived also in 1849 from Ballymena in Ulster.
The half-time Wyndham School was destroyed by fire in 1869 and lessons were then held in the new Inn. In 1878, a new teacher Bernard Grant arrived and boarded at the inn.
In 1881 he married Sarah Turbet. And as Robert Turbet built another hotel, the present building, in 1881, the couple lived in the second inn until 1885 when they left for Merimbula. At that time their new home on the corner of Umback Lane (Oak Street) was being built.
In about 1890 Robert and Eliza Grant began construction of the Royal Hotel on the vacant block on the top side at the western end of the town. As the Royal Hotel was being erected the Turbets began updating the Robbie Burns. Much later in the 1930s the gabled ends facing the main street and the kitchen areas were rebuilt. From the earliest times a large low shed for guests to house their buggies and carriages was placed across the road, next to the shop. This later became the Blacksmith shop. Young Robert recalled how it was his job to take the horses overnight to the property owned by Turbets just south of the Cemetery. His father also had the mail run from Pambula to Bombala which he rode on horseback. Robert died in 1894, and when asked shortly before his death what he would recommend as an aid to good health replied that "a glass of whisky was not to be despised". He gave generously to the construction of Wyndham Hall, the Presbyterian Church and laid the foundation stone of the new school residence. Robert and Mary Turbet are buried in Wyndham along with three sons Peter, Robert and Walter and two daughters, Sarah (Grant) and Margaret (Grant).
After Robert's death the hotel was carried on by his wife Mary and three daughters Mary, Louise and Ivy until about 1908 when it was leased until the 1940s. The ladies took over the Club Hotel in Pambula but later moved to Manly where they had a private hotel (Earl's Court) until the end of their days. Young Robert and Walter had properties south of the cemetery hill. Margaret married Henry Grant 11 and Sarah returned to Wyndham when Bernard retired in 1903.
In 1948 Robert Turbet 111 returned to take over the hotel again. Known as Mac, he sold out in 1959, the Turbet ownership ending after 102 years. Since then there have been several licencees, and its character has changed. The swinging name sign on a high post, the burning oil lamp at night, the ornate carved wood bar area, the tap room, the wooden keg covered with a cloth lying on the bar, six o'clock closing, belong to the past.
In 2010 the hotel licence is 150 years old and that seems to be a good idea for some form of remembrance.

Robbie Burns Hotel, Wyndham
No date
Robbie Burns Hotel, 1903