The Dargo Pub History

How Dargo became popular

Because of its central location the Bridge Hotel soon became a popular venue and functions of local cricket matches. Prospecting Associations and weddings were held there.

By 1890 only two hotels remained, the Star and the Bridge. The Bridge Hotel was always popular because of the accommodation that it offered. Mrs Elizabeth Coloe was the licensee of the Bridge Hotel.

In 1896 only the Bridge Hotel retained its licence and Patrick Martin Coloe took over the licence from Elizabeth.

Overcoming disasters

In March 1898 disaster struck and the hotel was destroyed by fire – everything was lost and only the building was insured. A new and larger structure was built on the site, parts of it were constructed from buildings demolished and removed from the old township of Grant.

Dan Hurley took over the licence in 1913 and on his death in 1946 it was passed to his daughter Jean Lee. The hotel remained with the family for almost seventy years.

The hotel was of course different to the way it is now, there was no cold beer on tap – beer was served straight out of the wooden keg at room temperature. When electricity eventually came to the town many of the old timers complained that they couldn’t drink the beer that was being put through a temprite as it was too cold!

Since 1882 only four families have been involved in the running of the pub, three of them can trace their forbears back to the early days of the town. In the mid 1980s the name was changed to the “Dargo Hotel”. Today it still caters to the needs of the local community and also to the new hand of travellers that visit Dargo and the high country.

R.W. Christie
February 1999

About the name

The name ‘Dargo’ conjures up romantic notions of high plains, cattle muster’s, gold prospecting, and synonymous with Dargo is the legendary Dargo Hotel (originally Bridge Hotel). Although not the first hotel in the town it has become a focal point for the community and a destination for visitors in the area.

Quagmunji Station was established in the 1850s as a cattle run and Connelly’s Inn the first licensed hotel in the area was established soon after. With the discovery of gold to the north on the Crooked River and Grant in the 1860s, Dargo developed as a stopover point, a town where fresh vegetables and supplies could be obtained.

Built for the miners

Miners of Dargo.

The Bluff – Eagle Point.

Nichol’s Royal Mail Hotel and Anticevich’s Mail Rest Hotel were built at the time to cater for the miners. Old timers tell of miners walking out into the still cold air of Dargo late at night after a session at one of the pubs and collapsing onto the ground to be found the next morning with their beards solidly frozen into a puddle.

By 1881 the gold was gone and with it the miners, some took up residence in Dargo which now boasted a population of 200. At the Licensing Court that year a ‘Certificate of Renewal and Removal’ was granted to Patrick Coloe of the Castleburn Creek Hotel for the establishment of a new hotel in Dargo opposite the Court House to be known as the Bridge Hotel.

Because of its central location the Bridge Hotel soon became a popular venue and functions of local cricket matches. Prospecting Associations and weddings were held there.

By 1890 only two hotels remained, the Star and the Bridge. The Bridge Hotel was always popular because of the accommodation that it offered. Mrs Elizabeth Coloe was the licensee of the Bridge Hotel.

In 1896 only the Bridge Hotel retained its licence and Patrick Martin Coloe took over the licence from Elizabeth. Hotels at this time were required to have a room for laying out a body if there was a death in the community. Because the hotel was always busy and rooms in short supply they purchase the block on the opposite corner and moved the disused Catholic school onto it and set up as a mortuary.

Destroyed by fire

In March 1898 disaster struck and the hotel was destroyed by fire – everything was lost and only the building was insured. A new and larger structure was built on the site, parts of it were constructed from buildings demolished and removed from the old township of Grant.

Dan Hurley took over the licence in 1913 and on his death in 1946 it was passed to his daughter Jean Lee. The hotel remained with the family for almost seventy years.

The hotel was of course different to the way it is now, there was no cold beer on tap – beer was served straight out of the wooden keg at room temperature. When electricity eventually came to the town many of the old timers complained that they couldn’t drink the beer that was being put through a temprite as it was too cold!

The licencing

The Dargo Pub as it is today.
The Dargo Pub’s pool room.

Licensing hours were always liberal at the Bridge Hotel and with no policeman residing in the town after 1918, publicans could please themselves. The police down country were well aware of these arrangements and instigated several raids to catch the culprits and prosecute the publican. On the way up from Sale the police would always stop at Briagolong and pick up the local constable. Strangely whenever they arrived in the town after hours the hotel was always closed.

One day however they did not stop to pick up the Briagolong constable as he had the flu. When they arrived in Dargo well after 6 o’clock closing time the hotel was still serving so patrons and publican were made to tow the line. It was amazing how well the bush telegraph usually worked!

Since 1882 only four families have been involved in the running of the pub, three of them can trace their forbears back to the early days of the town. In the mid 1980s the name was changed to the “Dargo Hotel”. Today it still caters to the needs of the local community and also to the new hand of travellers that visit Dargo and the high country.

R.W. Christie
February 1999