by Mary Wilson
The building and the town of Menindee have a long and colourful history. Discovered by Thomas Mitchell in 1835, and later visited by Charles Sturt in 1844, Menindee was a recognised depot for overlanders and settlers. Known then as Laidleys Ponds, and later as Menindie, its most famous visitors were the Victorian exploration expedition, led by Robert OHara Burke and William John Wills. On their tragic journey to the top of Australia, they stopped at this Hotel - then known as Tom Pains Pub - in October 1860.
At that time Menindie consisted of a couple of shacks, this "shanty pub", a store owned by Capt. Cadell, the Riverboat man, and a well established port facility for supplies carried along the Darling. Menindie was in the words of an early visitor, "the authentic last outpost of civilisation", a jumping-off place for the interior. At the hotel, Burke & Wills assembled and organised their supplies for their trip into the unknown. A base camp was established at Pamamaroo Creek, 10 kms above Menindee, from which the secondary party was to follow. Sundry problems, however meant that they actually lived out most of their 11 week stay at Tom Pains Pub! And as is history now, Burke & Wills were never to see the pub or Menindee again.
The hotel itself, came into the hands of the Maiden family before 1880, and the licence was held by that family until 1979 . So many years of public service, handed down each generation! For these obvious historic and sentimental reasons, it remains affectionately, Maidens Menindee Hotel. In 1860 Burke & Wills stayed in the section of the Hotel which used to contain the card machines, in the old hotel. The bar section of the Hotel, the Dining Room and Lounges were all original, with later editions as they were required. The walls were witnesses to real Australian History.
The roof of the original building was replaced in March/April 1994. The thatched roof was still attached by cow hide strips and was under the iron on the roof, a true glimpse of history! The dining room was refurbished and reopened on the 30th April 1994. It retained its Old World atmosphere, with wooden tables and chairs, white table cloths, and silver on the tables. The bar, lounges and verandahs were restored and painted along with the front of the hotel. Historical photographs and memorabilia were displayed within the hotel.
On 23rd April 1999, in the early hours of the morning, a fire severely damaged the main building of the hotel, destroying the contents and the many years of history which the historical building contained. The remains of the building were demolished and the site cleared . The Bar continued to operate in the guest lounge at the front of the hotel, and a cold beer was assured..
The new hotel was built on the sight incorporating the original front of the hotel and bed rooms. The building is much bigger and modern but some of the original features have been incorporated into it. The dining room has similar wooden furniture and similar silver as before.
The bar was opened on 1st July 2000 by Mrs Flo Maiden, the oldest living Maiden in Menindee and she pulled the first beer on the day. The hotel was officially opened on 8th July by Mr Bill Moroney and the same excellent service continues for local and tourists alike.
Mixed stone and wood & iron buildings. Opened at Menindie by 1853. Rebuilt in
1854 by Thomas Pain known as Tom Pains Pub. Burnt down in 1999. Rebuilt in 2000.
1853 - Pains Hotel
1867 - 70 Christopher Quinn
1870-75 Richard Green
1875 - 1877 George Miller
1879 - William Maiden
1880 - 1881 Werribee Pyke
1881 - 1882 William Maiden
1882 - 1883 Henry Church
1883 - 1887 William Maiden
1887 - 1891 John H. Gordon
1891 - 1892 George Maiden
1892 - 1895 Robert F. Welcome
1895 - 1907 William Maiden
1907 - 1908 George S. Maiden
1908 - 1912 William E. Maiden
1912 - 1915 Lycurgus Underdown
1915 - 1917 George S. Maiden
1917 - 1974 William E. Maiden
1974 - 1979 James Leslie Maiden
Hotel sold to Frederick (Mick) & Greta Ratcliff (nee Maiden.)
1979 - 1985 Nicholas Dennis Hoban
1985 - 1989 Rex Squire
1989 - 1991 Paul DeSylva
1991 - 1994 Tim Castle
1994 - 1996 Robert Wilson
1996 -1998 Derek Symonds
1998 Shelley OBrien
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Last updated on 14 December 2003