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The History of the Dunstan Hotel

The site is historically more interesting than the building which is now over 100 years old. In 1862 the first hotel on this site was erected by a Mr Buckingham, made of calico wood (a species of walnut), a "Saloon" would describe it better. In December 1862, the Buckingham Family built the United States Hotel, however this was blown down by one of the many frequent terrific gales the region suffered.

In 1868, a Mr Cox built on the site, a "handsome" wooden building named the Port Phillip Hotel. The hotel then had a series of popular "hosts" (owners) up until an unfortunate fire in early 1900 that completely destroyed it. The then owner, a Mr Pitches, commissioned Mr Thomas Wilkinson of St Bathans to build a double storyed stone hotel on the same site. The stone to build the hotel was hewn from the rock face at the Dunstan Gorge end of the town where the road and railway go north to Cromwell.

The Commercial Hotel as renamed by Mr Pitches was occupied as it was built, so that on completion 21st December 1901, it accommodated many people. The new hotel commanded a wonderful view of rugged snow-capped mountains most of the year, the steep rocky Cairnmuir, the barren and extensive Dunstan Flats and the mighty Molyneux River winding its way, oblivious of the wealth being taken from its banks by all the gold miners of Clyde. However, short was the life of this incarnation of the hotel as the interior was completely gutted by fire three days later.

But the region was booming, so Mr Pitches decided to rebuild immediately as the stone structure was undamaged. The same contractor rebuilt the interior, this time water pipes were installed in the kitchen as a contract had been let to lay water mains in the Township. The contract however was delayed because of the terrifically severe frosts experienced, making digging impossible for laying the main pipes. The Hotels were the first buildings to have water laid on in 1903. As the years passed the Hotel changed hands many times. The interior of the Hotel remained the same except for minor alterations made from time to time. A bathroom was added, hot water was carried from the kitchen for some years.

In 1958 William (Bill) Annan managed the Commercial Hotel for some time and later became the owner. The bar was enlarged and minor changes made. Bells Bakery & Biscuit Factory of the early 1870's was purchased and demolished in 1958. Being adjacent to the north wall of the hotel, it was a simple matter to extend on to the old Factory site where. a spacious and up to date lounge bar was built without any alteration to the original hotel building. The Commercial Hotel eventually changed its name to what we now know as the Dunstan Hotel.

The current owners, The Gallagher's have refreshed and re-painted the Hotel to give the historical building a modern touch.


original hotel image
port phillip hotel image