A Bit About Orbost

“A traveller passing through this “City on the Snowy River” would say that it is a very small township indeed, as it is impossible to see beyond the main street on account of the bush and young trees in the cross streets and all vacant lots. After a few days and a look around a visitor finds that it is a fair sized and good business township. As you approach, you pass the butter factory, where thousands of gallons of milk are put through daily.

A little further and Bomford's Club Hotel is before you. This is a two storey brick building, and is well known for its first class accommodation and consequently well patronised by the travelling public. At the other end of the town Dickson's Commonwealth Hotel does a good business, and is also a well known hostelry. Some fine places of business have been erected in the main street during the last few years, two of the most noticeable being C. Drevermann's and Saunders and Co. The Post Office, a handsome wood building, occupies a central situation, opposite the general store of Mr. G Temple. The roadway in the main street is rough and unformed and the growth of young trees in the side streets appears strange to a visitor. Some beautiful private residences may be seen here, and the demand for cottages far exceeds the supply. Building sites in the main street run from three to five pounds per foot.

The river flats are spoken over as the best land in Victoria, and this report is fully justified by the appearance of the maize crops, despite the long dry spell of dry weather. You can drive for miles along the banks of the Snowy River and admire the rich flats, well stocked with dairy herds, fat bullocks and horses, and dotted with the handsome and comfortable residences of the fortunate owners. Roads lead from here to Club Terrace, Bendoc, Bonang and on into New South Wales via Delegate and Bombala.”

First published in the Delegate Argus and Border Post Saturday 10 March 1906 – Page 10.

Not much has changed by 2020.

The Old Club Hotel 

While on the subject of old hotels of Orbost, the first one built was the Club in 1885 an old wooden place on the corner built for J. A. Petersen of the Mitchell Hotel Bairnsdale, now known as the Victoria Hotel.

Many people will remember Tom Maguire, a step­son of the late Mr. Petersen, who carried on the club Hotel Orbost for 5 or 6 years. Then the property came into the possession of Alfred Cooper, a Yorkshireman who purchased the freehold about 1890, pulled the building down and erected the present structure, not including the shops and bedrooms which were a later addition.

Every Sunday would find mine host Cooper, decked out in frock coat and tall hat A very punctilious man, and, in his hotel, a stickler for decency, his frequent admonition being—“Now then boys! I treat you as gentlemen, and I expect you to behave as such!”

After Alf Cooper's time, came the late W. Gluth, father of Mr. J. Gluth of present day Orbost, and he carried on for a number of years. Joe Bomford was the next Licensee, and the people now in their prime, have vivid recollections of some of the jovial boniface.

He even tells tales of himself, but of that, let his historian enlighten. Sam Stewart, who afterwards went to Marlo, reigned for a while until the late Mr. Harris took up the running at the Club. The hotel was still in the Cooper estate. We are coming to more recent days. The late Tom Marshall followed, and while carrying on the Club he purchased the Commonwealth Hotel from Mrs. Dickson.

After Mr. Marshall's term, W. Archer, a son-in-law of Mr. Cooper took over the reigns. He married Miss Cooper, and Mrs. Copper at her death left the property to her daughter (Mrs W. Archer), who is alive. Mrs. Archer disposed of the property to Harry Gardner, and all know how decently he and Mrs. Gardner have conducted the place since he purchased the freehold a few years ago for the sum of 15,000 pounds, through Mr. Henry and Messrs James and Bird.”

Originally published in the Gippsland Times Thursday 4 October 1934

The original Pub building