Ballarat hotels

Image Temperance Boarding House Main Road 1859 - Max Harris photo

A brief attempt at Prohibition on the newly discovered Goldfields failed miserably as the sly-grog trade flourished. Watercourses were muddied by alluvial mining and safe drinking water was scarce. So the Colonial government issued publican's licences for the sale of many kinds of beverages but sly-grog was still prevalent. It is stated by Hargreaves that 'liquor could be procured in over 700 establishments on the Ballarat diggings'. Ballarat's historian, Weston Bate, tells us that from the late 1850s Temperance became the strongest moral issue to counter the sins of life on the diggings. Drunkeness and depravity were seen as the major cause of social evils that endangered the women and children in particular.

Newspapers of the day reported court proceedings for the licensing of publicans. Here is a transcription of an example from the 1870s.

The Ballarat Courier Saturday 2 December 1876 Page 4 Column 4


Notice to the Licensing Magistrates as follows:

  • Piggoreet – Patrick HORAN of Golden Lake for Galatea Hotel, 6 rooms
  • Learmonth – Clement LITTLE of Weatherboard for a house of 6 rooms
  • Learmonth – Margaret STUCKEY of Mount Bolton for a house of 8 rooms
  • Learmonth – Robert TAYLOR of Learmonth for a house at Mount Bolton, 8 rooms
  • Ballarat East – Robert WRIGHT of Ballarat East – Cumberland and Durham Hotel in Bridge Street, containing 14 rooms
  • Learmonth – Mary Ann PUGHE of Mount Blowhard for a house of 7 rooms
  • Learmonth – John BRIDGEWATER of Learmonth for a house of 5 rooms
  • Learmonth – Thomas KEATING of Minersrest for a house of 5 rooms
  • Ballarat East Herman SASS of Ballarat East - Royal Oak Hotel in Peel street north, 5 rooms

Here is a list of hotels in the Ballarat District that were to be closed in order to reduce the number of licensed premises. Licensing Districts are: Bullarook, Daylesford, Franklin, Ballarat West, Bungaree, Buninyong, Dowling Forest, Sebastopol, Warrenheip, Stawell, Carisbrook, Talbot and Timor.

The Argus (Melbourne) Wednesday 10 November 1915 Licensing Act 1915. Notice that compensation will be paid. The following premises were deprived of licenses by the Licensers Reduction Board.

The Argus

The Argus

These are the main references that our research team uses for information about hotels and hotel keepers.


Alphabetical Listings : Ballarat Publicans, Ballarat Hotels, Aproximately 1860s–1880s [Ballarat Archives Centre of the Public Record Office Victoria]

Ballarat Directories generally have a section for Trades and Professions. Here Hotels and Hotel Keepers will be listed.

Ballarat Hotels : Past & Present, John Hargreaves, Ballarat Historical Society, 1943 see pp 2-5 The Story of Liquor Control and Reduction of Licenses

Bi-fold Key to Hotels c1867 Ballarat East. p 4, 5, 6, Panoramas of Ballaarat, M Harris, J Burrell, Harris House of Photography 1998

Hotels of Ballarat, Ivan Lock, June 1999

List of Publicans in Ballarat 1874-1881 compiled by Neville Fraser and Ian Jennings, 6 Nov 1991

Lucky City : The First Generation at Ballarat 1851-1901, Bate, Weston, 1978, Melbourne University Press p176

Map of Hotels on Main Road by Bert Strange

Map of Hotels on Main Road by Tom Reidy

Tales of Taverns in the Victorian Colony by Maurice Walsh, see Chapter 6 The Ballarat Goldfield

Ballarat Historical Society website – photos of ~60 Ballarat Hotels

VPRS 719/P0 APPLICANT LICENCES BALLARAT from 27 May 1859 to 23 Jun 1864
Indexed but not yet published, 1600 entries. Column headings are:

Page / Number / Applicant / Surname / Applicant / Given Name / Address Street / Sign of House / Situation / Licensed Before or Not / Decision / Type of License / Date.

The overwhelming majority of applications are for Publicans but there are also others such as: Auctioneers, Billiard & Night, Carriers, Hawkers & Pedlars (Foot or Animal, Packhorse & Cart), Refreshment, Slaughtering and a single one for a Pawnbroker granted to Robert Dawson McDONALD.

Please make requests for lookups via Research page.

The aim of the society is to help people discover their family history. To have appropriate records available, with guidance in ways to research and record their history and genealogy.

The Ballarat and District Genealogical Society Inc Incorporation Number A0022692F ABN 40 041 783 778