Coach services from Broken Hill to Tibooburra

This document relates to the coach services that were in place along the Silver City Highway (Tibooburra Road) from Broken Hill to Tibooburra and includes information about the hotels that services the route.

We wish to acknowledge Keith Brougham as the author of the coach history and Rusheen Craig for her research and writing in relation to this and many other topics across far western New South Wales.

We thank the State Library of SA for permission to publish the Brougham material.

In the late 1800’s a coach and five horses were driven from Silverton and ran through the station on up to the road to Tibooburra to Queensland border long before the ( Broken Hill to Tarrawingee) railway was put down. 

Mail contracts for outback coaches were given to Morrison Bros, after Cobb and Co. gave it up and the different lines were a network of worry and supervision. Mr. Peter Morrison was Overseer of all lines they held to deliver mails, extending from Broken Hill to Bourke, Cobar Ivanhoe, Tibooburra, Milparinka and many other lines from Wilcannia, via Louth and all stations along the river en route; Cobar past Barnato and stations feeding off contracting lines and any of these runs or routes. 

Yanco Glen and Albion Town, Euriowie and on to White Cliffs, the terminus to Wilcannia and for other off-shoots. It took many horses to run these mails, with frequent changes taken, each having a groom in charge. The distance of a run between changes was 25 miles, more at times. The groom had the horses out in the paddocks ready with clean harness for the next change, usually five horses for a coach. Big loads were carried and by arrangement, any small parcels or perishable goods were taken free for the station, which gave them free paddocking for their horses. Long distances had to be travelled by the drivers – always good, helpful and courteous. 

The old Mt Gipps hotel was an important amenity being placed at the junction of roads to Broken Hill, Silverton, Wilcannia, Menindie and Tibooburra. When the Mt Gipps homestead was shifted to a new site north of Stephens Creek on the Tibooburra road the hotel remained as a staging point for coaches until it .was by-passed by new roads. 

After leaving Mt Gipps Hotel the Tibooburra coach proceeded via Yanco Glen, Tarrowangee, Euriowie and Cobham Lake to Milparinka and Tibooburra. It was possible to then board a coach for the Queensland border via Yalpunga. 

William Barr opened his wood and corrugated iron hotel on the 11th of October 1899 on the southern side of Stephens Creek 16 km from the Silver City on the Broken Hill to Tibooburra road. 

There is some evidence to show that the present site of the hotel was used as a stopover for bullock teams on their way north in the 1885. However the hotel building was not started until August 1899 and was completed by October of the same year. It seems likely that alcohol could be obtained there before the hotel was erected. 

The hotel was severely damaged by the flooding of the nearby creek in 1934 and the owner was ordered to carry out extensive repairs and to provide a bathroom. The licensee at that time Arthur Lloyde who left to take over the operation of Excelsior hotel in Broken Hill, which by the 1980’s was being run by his son Tim.

The owner John Gardener decided to erect a new building, which was started on the 26th of January 1935, taking six months to complete. The few remaining rooms were used as a temporary hotel until the building was completed. The new building was constructed of stone and some of the old building remained until 1959 when they were demolished to make way for extensions. The hotel licence was transferred out of the area in May 1987.

Fire extensively damaged the building in the late 1990s.  It is recognizable today by the large ceramic owl which sits on the verandah outside the hotel.

Further along, the Maybell mines opened in mid1884 and the Nickelville settlement was established on the Maybell block. This settlement was named after Julius Nickel who discovered a number of silver and lead deposits in the Barrier district including the Maybell and Kate claims. 

Samuel Davis opened his wood and corrugated iron hotel on the 27th of October at the Nickelville settlement. On the 16th of April 1889 Joseph Ross moved the hotel from the Maybell Mine to the Mt Gipps road at the junction of the roads to the Albion and Maybell mines. 

This site was a short distance north of the old Mt Gipps shearing shed. A stone chimney and stone toilet still stand where the hotel was first built. In April 1892 Mr Aulton commenced a series of applications to transfer the building to a site 109 yards from the Stephens Creek reservoir but was finally refused on the 4th of January 1893. He cancelled the licence on 6th of July 1893.

Patrick Quinn opened his wood and iron hotel on the 1st of October 1887 at Waukeroo about 3km south of where the Yanco Glen hotel once stood. The town of Albion was established nearby to service the mines in the area and to accommodate workers on the Tarrowangee railway. 

When the hotel burnt down on the 20th of April 1896, Walter Rings was killed. Hengs obtained a temporary license to trade from a shed opposite the hotel ruins. On the 6th of April, Hengs applied for a provisional licence to rebuild, but was rejected on the grounds that Yanco Glen hotel had transferred to a spot only 3km away in late 1899. The licensing court stated that Hengs would not be able compete for such a small clientele.

Little remains to help identify these sites

THE CALOOLA HOTEL was originally located on Caloola Creek near Euriowie.

The wood and iron hotel was shifted to Corona Station by Louis Rymer in 1890. It was then taken over by Alexander McIntosh Robertson who closed his hotel down at Corona station on the 14th of July 1899 and transferred the galvanised iron and wooden building with its matchboard lining to a location near Yancowinna Creek.

It opened for business on the 25th of April 1900.  Robertson accidentally drowned in a nearby dam in 1901 and his wife took over the hotel. She married Alexander Adair in October 1903 and he managed the hotel for a short time. 

The hotel functioned as a telephone office (KAKOYARRA) from 1917 onward.

William Chaplain and his wife were the licencees of the hotel during 1971-73 when they were murdered in the front bar of the hotel. 

On the 9th of April 1984 the hotel was burnt down and trading continued from a temporary premise.

A Sturt’s Steps shelter is located on the site of the original Yanco Glen Hotel.

The next few hotels were located west of the Tibooburra Road (now the Silver City Highway) and you may like to decide to visit these sites or continue along the highway toward Milparinka and Tibooburra.

 The settlement of Tarrawingee is about 64km north of Broken Hill and is located on the Corona Road.  To access this part of the hotel circuit requires a turn off just past the Yancowinna Creek and is signposted as part of Sturt’s Steps. At Tarrawingee, Sturt’s Steps marker is located at the edge of the road.

The town was established some time before 1890 to provide high-grade limestone for the Broken Hill smelters.  A village was proclaimed on the site in 1891 and by then the two centres were connected by a railway. Population rose to about 400, with 200 men working in the nearby quarries, All this changed when smelting in Broken Hill ceased by 1898. During the good times, locals were supported by two hotels. 

William Bamfield had run an unlicensed hotel named the Tarrowangee for some years before applying for a licence in 1890. Consequently this licence was refused. However he opened his licensed weatherboard hotel on the 7th of April 1892 on the northern corner of Corona and Calcite streets.  in 1892. The hotel survived for many years after the quarries closed down in 1898 finally the hotel ceased trading in 1932.

THE GREAT NORTHERN HOTEL was a wood and iron hotel opened by John Thomas Smith in 1888. It was located on the northerly corner of Lime and Corona streets. 

From this point there were no further established hotels to the west.  There were a few in the Barrier Ranges, such as THE LADY DON HOTEL which was situated between Torrowangie and Euriowie about 6.5km from the latter.

Poolamacca was another small mining settlement where Charles Carl opened his primitive wooden slab Poolammacca Hotel in 1867 near Campbells Creek,  about 55km from Broken Hill on a track leading to Euriowie. The hotel provided bullock-hide bunks and a bucket of cold water, which was placed outside the door for those who were inclined to partake of a wash. 

The resident chef used to serve up tasty meals, but only when he was sober which was apparently a rare thing. By 1888, this hovel was rebuilt to provide customers with a comfortable stone dwelling. It closed sometime in the early 1890’s. 

Along the Silver City Highway, the next main stop is an interpretive shelter called Byjerkerno which over looks the ruins to the north west of the mining town known as Euriowie

The discovery of tin ore about 80km NNE of Broken Hill gave rise to a settlement at Euriowie on the Broken Hill to Tibooburra road in 1887. Vast sums of money were invested in mining equipment and there also talk of building a railway from Broken Hill but this frenzied optimism subsided rapidly and the place was deserted by 1895. Euriowie supported four hotels at its peak. 

The Royal Hotel, Royal Mail Hotel, the Euriowie and the Victory Hotels were all wood and iron hotels.

Further along the highway, a few kilometres past the Fowlers Gap University of NSW, the road winds through the creeks before straightening up on the Fowlers Gap flat.  This is where Charles Rosenius opened his stone structure on or before the 14th of May 1888. 

In 1936 the licensing court refused an application by Harold William Robinson for a wine and spirit merchant’s licence because the magistrate was satisfied that the “reasonable requirements of the district did not necessitate the granting of the licence.” Bancannia Lake Hotel, it was said, “could sufficiently cater for the requirements of the residents and travelling public in that area”.  The hotel was delicensed in 1938

Only a few stone blocks strewn on the ground to the east of the road give any indication of the site of the hotel.

The Bancannia Lake Hotel was a stone with corrugated iron roof situated about 35km north of Fowlers Gap just to the east of the Silver on the Broken Hill to Tibooburra road. It was built alongside Bancannia Lake which is an ephemeral lake fed by local creek systems.  The location is not visible from the highway.

The building is said to have had three stone wings, which surrounded a paved courtyard. It was burnt to the ground in April 1918 and a temporary shack was erected, but the licence was eventually cancelled in 1937. 

Thirty kilometres along the highway was the Packsaddle Hotel, the forerunner to the Packsaddle Roadhouse. Built in 1887 by Alex Scott, it was ideally located on a stock route between Queensland and South Australia to service stockmen, shearers as well as the mail coach to the Albert Goldfields. In 1898 the hotel was destroyed by fire.

Next along the road toward Milparinka and Tibooburra at about 93 km north of Fowlers Gap is the Iduna Park Hotel site.  The hotel was wood and iron, with a parlour, passage and bar across the front and a dining room  which would seat 15 or 16 down the side. The meals were good, about 1/6, with old bushies being catered for in the kitchen. The hotel was a coach stop and mail change. The family was a very close-knit one, and was highly regarded and respected. Mrs Barraclough, one of the licensees, is said to have kept the hotel spotless. Family stories include a mob of forty or fifty goats, each of which was known individually. 

The hotel was delicensed in 1933 when the building had reached a critical state of disrepair.  It was dismantled and transport to the west to Pimpara Lake where was rebuilt on the Packsaddle Creek as the homestead for the Walden family. It was destroyed in the 1949 floods. 

The Cobham Hotel was 127 km north of the Fowlers Gap at the edge of the Cobham Lake.  It can be identified from the highway as it is close to the gravesite of Eliza Kennedy who once worked at the hotel.

Opened in 1879 this was the first hotel in the ‘Corner Country’. It was built and initially operated by George Blore and was popular with teamsters and travelers alike, and not infrequently was the object of unwanted attention.

An inquest regarding the death of Roy Eric Denison, aged 19, was held at the Cobham Lake Hotel on November 26 1913. The taking of evidence occupied the whole day. Denison was alleged to have died as the result of a fight with Daniel Minahan, licencee of the Cobham Lake Hotel, on November 17. Minahan was present in custody. Dr. Mary De Garis (resident medical officer of the Tibooburra Hospital) said a post-mortem examination of the body on November 21 showed that the cause of death was intra-cranial hemorrhage following a fracture of the temporal bone of the left side. Daniel Minahan was committed for trial at Broken Hill on April 20, 1914. Bail was allowed in two sureties of £50 each, and self in £100.

About 27 kilometres south of Milparinka was the site of the Coally Hotel. It was also opened in 1887 by George Blore and operated by John Maxwell.  On the 14th of December 1891 the hotel was totally destroyed in a fire.  At the time it was suggested that the cause of the blaze was arson but no obvious cause of the fire was found.

In the early days travelers could cross the Evelyn Creek near Coally on their way to Milparinka.  This meant that they would arrive on the western side of the town, along Loftus Street. At one time, Milparinka had a total of four hotels.  Information about three of them is included on interpretive panels at the Heritage Precinct, or by downloading the walking tour of Milparinka. 

The Milparinka Hotel (the Albert) was one of the first hotels built in the area ( again by George Blore) and has survived all of the other hotels described during this drive.  For this, if no other reason, it’s worth a visit.

Further along the road toward Tibooburra was Warratta.  Today the highway crosses the Warratta Creek a few kilometres from Milparinka. The Pioneeer Hotel opened at Warratta Tank in 1882 but after just a few years the license was canceled and the  hotel closed, in 1903.

Tibooburra is the next town along. At 340 kilometres from Broken Hill, it was established along with Milparinka to service a gold rush, which started in the Mt Browne region in 1881. This town supported a population of about 1000 and had four hotels but as the rush subsidized both Milparinka and Tibooburra declined leaving Milparinka practically deserted. 

Tibooburra persisted as a supply base for the surrounding area and is now the headquarters for a number of government activities in the region. 

Information about the Tibooburra Hotels can be found in the new Tibooburra interpretive centre.  You can’t miss it…there is a camel standing outside. Two of the early hotels remain, the Family Hotel and the Tibooburra or Two Storey Hotel.  The Two Storey was badly damaged by fire in 2021 but has been rebuilt.

This concludes our information of services from Broken Hill to Tibooburra but wish to note that several other facilities operated across the Goldfields and at the border communities of Yalpunga and Warri Warri.