This month's column will look at two hotels, Sparkes' Drung Drung Hotel and Bushby's South Brighton Hotel.
Both were built on the road from Stawell to cater for the influx of people attracted to new land available in the Wimmera.
Drung Drung Hotel
In early 1869 John Sparkes and his young family (wife Kate and their two-year-old daughter) arrived in the Horsham area from the Stawell gold diggings. Land selection was starting to boom in the Wimmera and people were streaming into the district to take up land and so required lodgings on their journey to Horsham. Sparkes rented a house from hotelier and land-owner James McClounan at Green Lake, 13 km south-east of Horsham. Seizing an opportunity, Sparkes applied for a beer and wine licence for the premises on 8 April 1869.
Shortly afterwards Sparkes took up land at Drung Drung (Allotments 11B, 11C and 13C) 19 km from Horsham, on what is now the Western Highway. On 13 January, 1870 he applied for a beer licence for a public house he'd built in the north-west corner of Allotment 11B. Once he'd added stables, he gained a full publican's licence on 28 June 1871.
Sparkes was instrumental in convincing the Victorian Education Department to establish a school at Drung Drung for the surrounding farming community. State School 1519 was built in the north-eastern corner of Allotment 13C and opened in March 1875.
In early 1876 Sparkes decided to move his family to Bendigo. In March 1876 he sold his 317-acre farm and the Drung Drung Hotel to J Quarterman, A White and J White, who engaged Thomas Peake to run the hotel. The publican's licence was transferred on 28 April, 1876.
Under Peake the hotel continued to trade well, providing for travellers and freight carriers, until January 1879 when rail supplanted road traffic. On 4 July, 1879 an application to relinquish the publican's licence was made and the licence was "struck out".
The buildings remained until a bush fire destroyed them in February 1894. They had served as an outstation for the then landowner, Henry O'Brien Blake.
A few remnants of the hotel remain today; for example, the squared rocks used as a chimney base. In about 1982, the present landowner saw a very old blazed tree near the hotel site. The tree was long dead and had numbers chiselled into it. He thought it possibly once marked the boundary between the original squatters' runs, South Brighton and St Helens.
Unfortunately, in about 1985 the tree was unwittingly cut down by a neighbour for firewood.
South Brighton Hotel
On the same road, eight kilometres from Horsham and a little to the east of the Burnt Creek rest area, once stood Bushby's South Brighton Hotel.
Joseph Bushby had worked on various remote stations from an early age. In 1864 he married Martha Nixon, who had arrived from England in 1863 and worked as a cook.
In 1866 they moved to Horsham where Joseph worked as the mail contractor between Horsham and Lake Hindmarsh. They then took up 316 acres (Allotments 58 and 59) in the Parish of Bungalally.
About 1873, in the south-west corner of Allotment 59 and adjacent to the road from Stawell, they built a six-room hotel they named the South Brighton Hotel. Martha managed the hotel while Joseph worked the farm. Joseph died on 26 March, 1880 at 42 years of age. The hotel and farmland passed to Martha.
On 13 November, 1882 Martha sold the farm and hotel to John McQuillan and continued on as cook and manager. In 1894 they married. At the end of 1895, probably due to the reduction in trade, they allowed their licence to lapse. John McQuillan died on 27 February, 1902 at age 61 from a buggy accident. The hotel and Allotment 59 again passed to Martha.
In 1905 Martha married John Bushby, who, remarkably, was no relation to Joseph. John was an early pioneer and long-time resident of Drung Drung.
On 23 April, 1908 Martha transferred the property to her new husband. John Bushby died on 11 April, 1909 at 77 years of age. The property passed to his children from a previous marriage.
The eventual fate of the hotel is unknown but it is probable it was demolished to make way for a hay shed. An old peppercorn tree and a few brick fragments appear to be all that's left of the South Brighton Hotel.