[Mack's Hotel, Geelong]

Mack's Hotel, on Corio Terrace ca. 1875

The first liquor to be served in a public house in Geelong, the second largest city in the state of Victoria, was on April Fool's Day, 1839. The name of Geelong's first publican was Andrew Macnaughton.

When William Lonsdale arrived in Melbourne as police magistrate toward the end of 1836 he found that three people had established unlicensed public houses [1]. He issued temporary licenses for £25 each. These were validated by a retrospective Act in 1838. For the year June 1837 to June 1838 in Melbourne, licenses were issue for six public houses, where the licensee could supply accommodation and retail spirits. In June 1838 it was decided to establish towns on the road between Port Phillip and Yass, where the road crossed the Goulburn, Violet Creek, The Ovens and The Murray; it was also decided that at those locations, places of entertainment should be established. In September 1838 an application was made for a license to keep a public house at Werribee, halfway between Melbourne and Geelong. In November 1838, twenty-one settlers in the Geelong area signed a petition to establish a licensed house, since they had frequent occasion to visit the Corio area to procure supplies. They suggested a licence be granted to the first respectable applicant. No doubt the person they had in mind was Andrew Macnaughton.

On 21 November 1838, accompanied by a recommendation from James Simpson, who was a Justice of the Peace in the District of Geelong, Andrew Macnaughton made application to Captain Foster Fyans, police magistrate. "Having built a house at Corio for the purpose of an Inn and general accommodation, I take the liberty to inform you that it is now ready to be opened, and beg to request that a licence may be granted to me for that purpose." On November 26th Fyans sent the application to the colonial secretary and said, "... the applicant has expended a sum of money in erecting a suitable place to entertain travelers, and in my opinion he is a respectable and well conducted man. As this is the first house of the kind to be built in Geelong ..." The Governor, Major George Gipps, responded on Christmas Day 1838, "Let a licence be granted under the provision of the new Act." On 13 April 1839 Lonsdale sent £6 5s 0d to the colonial treasurer for Andrew Macnaughton's general license to cover the period 1 April to 20 June 1839. On 1 May 1839 a wine and beer licence in the Geelong area was approved for Frederick Champion, which enabled him to also handle bulk spirits.

A large number of conditions were attached to the granting of licenses. It is doubtful whether even the best intentioned innkeeper could observe all of them. Offences connected with liquor were fewer in Geelong than in Melbourne. Andrew Macnaughton is mentioned several times in the Geelong Court Register 1838-9. There was an incident on the very first night, resulting in the dismissal of a police clerk involved. Andrew Macnaughton stated in the register on 3 April 1839:

"That on the night of the 1st instant, Mr. [Charles H.] Seymour Wentworth [police clerk of the bench, Geelong] took [Police] Captain Fyan's letters from a constable who arrived from Melbourne, and rode to Captain Fyans. He returned to my house after 9 o'clock and said the licence was come and said you are perfectly safe in allowing drink to be used. So for the first time in my house, there was some brandy, champagne and wine used in a public way. After 11 o'clock the constable came and cleared the house. Mr. Wentworth was there enjoying himself. After the house was cleared, Mr. Wentworth remained and left my place about 1 o'clock in the morning. I would not have opened my house only for Mr. Wentworth and he was solely the cause of my doing so."

Apparently Fyans told Wentworth he would issue the license in the morning, but Wentworth gave Macnaughton the impression it had already been issued. Fyans reported previous poor conduct by Wentworth, who was forced to resign. Wentworth took it badly, rode on horseback to the police station on May 1st, asked to see chief constable McKeever and threatened police magistrate Fyans. It appears Macnaughton may not have been all that innocent. He was summoned to court on September 23rd, but did not appear. Constable Job Williams testified:

"That on Friday 20th instant I was on duty at North Geelong. I cleared the Public House excepting the lodgers at nine o'clock. I visited again at about half past eleven o'clock. I heard singing and tumult. I went to the door, I was not admitted. Mr. Macnaughton was singing in the parlour with some company. I sent for him and told him that it was improper to be making such disturbance. He said that he could see no harm in it, that he had as good a right to do so as others (saying Mr. Smith and Mr. Harper of Melbourne). I saw Mr. Timms who resides close to the Public House. He was one of the party and not a lodger."

George Smith was the third person to be granted a license in Melbourne. William Lonsdale recognized three such people who were already serving liquor in his letter of 1 November 1836 to the colonial secretary. William Harper was granted a license there on 28 June 1838. Constable George Lee testified:

"I accompanied Constable Williams on Friday night. Mr. Macnaughton's public house was cleared at nine o'clock excepting the lodgers. About half past eleven o'clock we were again going rounds, we heard a great noise towards Macnaughton's. We went up and knocked at the door, his servants opened it. I saw Mr. Macnaughton in the parlour with a large party drinking, a Mr. Wentworth and a Mr. Brown and several others ..."

Lee and Williams of course would coordinate their testimonies. It seems Wentworth, the disgraced former police clerk of the bench, could not resist a party. Macnaughton was fined £2 and costs of 4s 6d. He did appear in court on December 4th or 5th, again charged with having his house open after hours on the night of December 3rd, in defiance of the Act 51 of Council, to which charge he pled not guilty. Lee testified:

"That on the 3rd instant about ten o'clock, I visited the Public House at night. Mr. Macnaughton was singing in the parlour. I sent for him. The District Constable told him that he must be aware that he was not allowed to go on in that manner. He said he considered that he has as good a right as Smith in Melbourne, to keep his house open until 12 o'clock at night, 'the tap was clear.'"

Macnaughton stated "That I had a party and gave them some drinks, and a charge for some spirits after nine o'clock was made by me." This time he was fined the same amount, £2, but costs increased to £2 2s 6d. It seems there was some resentment that people could drink in Melbourne until midnight but only until nine o'clock in Geelong. I am reminded that, when I grew up the Burwood 1940-1963 the entire Camberwell area was dry, with no public houses. Elsewhere the pubs all closed at six p.m., resulting in the famous "six o'clock swill," when workers raced to drink as much as possible in the limited time after they finished work at 5 p.m. Hours were extended in New South Wales in 1955 and in Victoria in 1966. Geelong was gazetted as a town on 10 October 1838 with a population of 545. There was a church, a hotel, a store, a wool store, and 82 houses.

My friend in Glasgow, Davie McNaughtan, sent me a list of births of Andrew McNaughton in Scotland. The only Andrew listed with the same spelling who is eligible is Andrew James Macnaughton born 12 June 1809 to John Macnaughton and Margaret nee Richardson in Clackmannan, just north of the Firth of Forth, between Stirling and Dunfermline. If he applied for a liquor license in 1838 he would have been 29, a fine age at which to apply. Consequently I discovered some confirming information. On Friday 16 March 1838 at 2pm, J. A. Macnaughton wrote to Foster Fyans, Corio, with some intelligence about six convict absconders. You will see from our story that this is our man. Fyans recommended him for a license eight months later.

In 2002 I obtained information from a website ( at that time) about Abram Atkins (1816-1867). It states that the rough slab Woolpack Inn was started in 1839, before the first land sale in Geelong, by Andrew McNaughton and William Porter. They sold it for £80 in 1840 to Joseph Gardner Mack and it became known as Mack's. It was taken over in the 1840s by John Atkins and Robert Nalder Clarke and again by John's brother Abram, who closed it in 1845. In 1846 tenders were called for a two-storied bluestone building with a gabled slate roof, accomodation for 78, stabling for 44 horses and a ballroom 46 x 29 feet. The architect was John Gill. After various incarnations the hotel was demolished in 1952.

[Steam Packet Wharf, Mack's Hotel, &c., Geelong]

Steam Packet Wharf, Mack's Hotel, &c., Geelong

A more recent website [2] states that Mack's Hotel, first known as the Wool Pack Inn, was located in Corio Terrace (now Brougham Street) in Geelong, facing the bay midway between Moorabool and Yarra Streets. George Russell, writing between 1881 and 1884, said this was the first house in Geelong where settlers could put up for the night [3]. It was built of rough split slabs and consisted of a sitting room or parlour, a bar and three or four very small bedrooms, with a detached kitchen at the back. There were no stables for some time after this; visitors tethered or hobbled their horses outside. Reference 2 posts the licensees as Codd and Porter then Codd and Macnaughton 1839, Macnaughton 1840, J. G. Mack 1841/2, Atkins and Clarke 1843 and Abram Atkins 1844-53.

The article adds some information about Macnaughton but calls him 'Patrick.' It says he was in charge of the first lighthouse in Port Phillip. In 1978 my friend Peter Sanders in Melbourne said he read in a book by Noble, "Ships and Shipping in Port Phillip Bay," that a McNaughton owned the first hotel in Geelong and later was the keeper of the Williamstown lighthouse. Reference 2 says that Macnaughton was clerk to Foster Fyans 1845-47, visited Scotland in 1851, returned to Geelong, lived in Fiji, returned to Geelong and worked for a butcher in Moorabool Street and then died in 1866 while undergoing an operation for an infected foot. He would have been 57. The Australia, Victoria, "Index to Probate Registers, 1841-1989" shows that Andrew J. T. Macnaughton, Clerk, of Geelong, died on 3 July 1866. Most of the estates of the deceased on this list were 'committed' to people, but a few, including Andrew, were committed to the 'Curator.'

From the little information we have, it seems Andrew was a maverick. There is no mention of a wife, children or descendants. He made a big trip from Clackmannan, Scotland, to Port Phillip shortly after it was settled by Europeans, built Geelong's first pub and became its first publican, enjoyed singing and lively company, was a keeper of an early lighthouse in Port Phillip, visited Fiji, made a return visit to Scotland, worked for a butcher and later as a clerk. Andrew Macnaughton was one of a multitude of ordinary but colorful characters, many of them Scots, who pioneered the new settlement on Port Phillip Bay.


1. "Historic Records of Victoria, Foundation Series, Volume 4: Communications, Trade and Transport 1836-1839," (Part III, The Liquor Trade, pp.389-486). Editors: Michael Cannon and Ian MacFarlane, Victorian Government Printing Office, Melbourne, 1985.

2. Zada, Susie, "Mack's Hotel (originally the Wool Pack Inn)", Geelong & District and Bellarine Peninsular History website, 2014

3. Wynd, Ian, "Mack's Hotel," in "Investigator" Vol.7, No.3, Geelong Historical Society, 1973.


1. "Mack's Hotel on Corio Terrace ca. 1875." Around 1846 this two-storied bluestone building with a gabled slate roof replaced the rough slab Woolpack Inn built in 1838. Photo of Corio Terrace ca.1875 by John Norton, Geelong Heritage Centre Collection. ( GRS 2009.01379 )

2. "Steam Packet Wharf, Mack's Hotel, &c., Geelong." Image from State Library of Victoria Collection. ( )

[Ken McNaughton]

Contributed by Ken McNaughton ( PPPG Member No. 1061 )

© COPYRIGHT This work is copyrighted and may not be reproduced in whole or in part in any medium without written permission from
Ken McNaughton, 3778 College Avenue, Ellicott City, MD 21043; phone/fax: 410-418-9340; (13 March 2014).
It is based on an article first published in the newsletter and on the website of the Clan Macnachtan Association Worldwide 13 March 2014.

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