The 154-year-old Gundy Pub in Gundiah, Qld, has had a tough history.
Story John Dunn Photos Naomi Cartner
In the late 1800s, the Scarrotts were early settlers among the heavily wooded hills between Gympie and Maryborough in the Burnett-Wide Bay area of south-east Queensland. Dairying and timber were the region’s main industries until prospector James Nash found gold at Gympie in 1867. Instantly, the rough, rutted track to Maryborough, the nearest port where the steamers docked and the centre where the nuggets were bought and sold, became a virtual highway, crowded with prospectors and business opportunists coming and going. It appears Charles Scarrott saw a business opportunity because, astutely, the next year he opened a wayside inn or halfway house at Gundiah to service this stream of arrivals and the many bustling Cobb & Co. coaches carrying people and provisions.
Although gold was the biggest event in the area at the time, there was another exciting talking point – the historic arrival of Prince Alfred, second son of Queen Victoria and the first member of the royal family to visit Australia. It was a momentous occasion and one that was greeted with such enthusiasm by Australians that he stayed 7 months. Clearly all this did not escape the attention of Scarrott, who promptly gave his humble roadside stop the grand title The Prince Alfred Hotel.
Today, 154 years later, The Prince Alfred remains, although it has burnt down twice – in 1894 and 1945. This year it survived again when partly inundated by Mary River floodwaters. It therefore retains its link with the prince, who was another survivor – he was shot in the back by Irishman Henry O’Farrell during a picnic in Sydney.
While the hotel still proudly proclaims its regal name in large lettering over the front door, it’s better known affectionately and widely as the Gundy Pub. “There are no pretensions here,” says owner Dan Hourigan, a former painter who bought it 12 years ago.
This story excerpt is from Issue #146
Outback Magazine: December/January 2023