The focal point of every Australian town in most cases was the Hotel, or Hotels in the more prosperous areas, in even the smallest hamlet one was evident. They were an essential part of our history and used for many occasions, meetings, visits by Doctors and dentists, venues for fund raising, the list is endless. The Genoa Hotel built by the Buckland family was the last one on the Princes Highway before travelling over the Border into NSW. One of the meanings of Genoa, or ‘Ginoa’ is an aboriginal word for ‘Goodbye’ soitis certainly an appropriate name.
The Genoa Hotel, as is well known, was built in the old pise tradition (rammed clay or earth), the walls being eighteen inches thick. Perhaps it was because of this ‘material’ that the bottom section was saved when fire gutted the top Tudor-style storey in 1933. It certainly proves the endurance of pise as the Genoa Hotel is today, a great example of that old building material. I remember Flo Gamble, telling me that her father Tom Begley helped with the construction and later he and his wife (Buckland) were proprietors. In a Government Tourist Bureaux printed in 1930 (and incidentally cost 2/6d, 25c) they advertised that there was a petrol bowser on the premises. Apparently it was before the days of barrels and the beer was crated into Genoa in bottles. Later Ben and Teen Buckland owned the Hotel then sold it to Jack and Thelda McLeod. They were wonderful musicians and played for many a function. Their daughter, Kitty was a pianist so the Hotel was a happy place.
Although I didn’t intend to venture into the 195060 era, many of us will remember the white cockatoo of later owners, Mr. and Mrs Whelam which greeted everyone from it’s cage on the veranda. I am sure at some stage or other, Mallacoota and Genoa residents were all subjected to it’s interesting and enlightening vocabulary!
In the late 1940s and early 50s we would all flock to Genoa for those post war gymkhanas. They were memorable days followed by dinner at either the Guest House or Hotel where we would change into our evening clothes for the Ball that night. Those dances were tremendously happy events and the little Hall which was situated near the Hotel would be filled to capacity. Again I am trespassing into the late 50s and also 60s when I recall the emu which lived at the back of the Hotel, and was renowned for it’s habit of bailing up ‘visitors’ to the little buildings down the back. My late husband, Rod often told of the story when one morning just after daylight, a tramp in ‘gear’ more reminiscent of the 1930s came trudging along the road, the emu spotted him near the site of the then CRB cottages and with the proverbial curiosity of it’s breed decided to investigate the ‘bluey.’ The faster the tramp walked to elude it, the faster the emu followed. The frightened traveller broke into a run with the emu in hot pursuit. Rod recalled the tramp literally galloping over the bridge with the emu’s head over his shoulder. The poor man must have been very grateful when for some reason that bird didn’t venture any further. Perhaps it was protecting it’s immediate territory.
When Mione and me were children we would travel on Neal Rankin’s father’s red, twin-cabin Dodge Mail and Passenger bus. At Genoa we would wait on the Hotel veranda before boarding Allan Grant’s EdenGenoa Mail and Passenger Car.
Nowadays it is only about an hour’s run into Eden and we cross the Border without being aware of it but when we were children it took much longer on the gravel road with it’s multitude of bends. For we children Crossing the Border could only be akin to travelling to another country, it was very significant. It must have been for our mother, too, for when Dad brought her as a young bride. into Victoria he remarked, “See how the trees are different on this side of the Border,” and Mum, much to his amusement replied, “So they are!” Another reason for slowing down the journey was that the Mail Car had to travel into Timbilica; Narrababa, (which year’s before had been a stopping place for Cobb Co. Coaches) Wonboyn, Boydtown, Kiah and Nullica to deliver mail and parcels.
We would arrive in Eden to stay at the Australasia Hotel in time to freshen up for dinner. It is difficult to believe now, but in those days it was a beautiful Hotel and advertised in tourist brochures as being the “Recognised Half-way House on the Princes Highway” and like most Hotels on the Princess Highway, it was under Vice Regal Patronage.”
Dad often spoke of when it was owned by the Pyke (Pike) family but the Impey family were the owners when we stayed there. It had a huge aviary full of birds at the back of the Hotel. There were the customary two Dining Rooms, one for paying guests, one for casuals. There were also two bathrooms, one for males, one for females. In the bedrooms were wash stands which held the crockery basin, soap container, large jug of water AND SOMETHING ELSE on the lower shelf which usually went under the bed. Today these sets are much sort after as antiques. Which reminds me of when the Pyke’s owned the Hotel and had a Bridal Suite which they called ‘The Golden Chamber’ and many funny stories have been told about that name. One related to me by an uncle was the time a young groom from out Kiah way was asked whether he would like the ‘Golden Chamber’. Assuming the Proprietress was referring to that universal utensil of the day, he thanked her profusely, adding “that an enamel one would do!”
Whenever I smell stale beer I remember the first time I experienced it when we walked past the Tap Room one morning. Every Hotel had a Tap Room and some of the more daring ladies frequented them. Can you imagine the hubbub it would have created in those days if women had ventured into that Male dominated area -The Bar!
We always paid for our accommodation when we booked in, which saved time in the morning when we had to catch the early morning bus to Bega. Once I remember, the Proprietress at the time, didn’t have any change so suggested to our Mother that she send one of the children downstairs for it later! She still couldn’t have had any because she gave Mione an orange instead. I do not know what their value was in those days but it was the 1930s Depression years and Mum was livid. Anyway we shared it for our supper! Next morning we were off to Bega.