Nugget Hotel (Buninyong)

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For other hotels with the same or similar names see Nugget Hotel.
Nugget Hotel
Nugget Hotel, October 2015
Town Buninyong
Street 201 Learmonth Street
Known dates 1854-1917
Evidence Building still standing 2018
Google maps -37.6462233,143.8807613

The Nugget Hotel was a hotel in Buninyong, Victoria, 1854-1917.

Site[edit | edit source]

The hotel was in Learmonth Street, Buninyong, now number 201, on the south west corner with Cornish Street.[1]

Background[edit | edit source]

The hotel opened in 1854 and closed in 1917.[2] The site was later used as a poultry farm in the 1940s.

History[edit | edit source]

The hotel was built in 1854, as a two storey brick building by William Benjamin Smith.[2]

In April 1856 the landlord, Mr. Smith, was a witness at the inquest into the death of an unidentified woman in Buninyong.[3]

In April 1856 there was the coach broke down near the hotel:

On Wednesday evening, as the Criterion Conveyance, which leaves Geelong at 12 o'clock noon, and generally reaches Ballarat at six p.m., was coming down the hill, close to the Nugget Hotel, the break broke. The result of this accident was, that the passengers had to alight, and wait whilst the injury was repaired. By ten o'clock, the coach was set in order, and it accordingly started for Ballarat at that somewhat advanced hour.[3]

In August 1856 the Star newspaper advertised that William Benjamin Smith was their agent in Buninyong.[4]

The hotel was mentioned in the newspaper in March 1857 following the closure of an infamous casino on the Union Jack Lead:

Whilst speaking upon this subject, we would remark that Mr Smith, of the Nugget Hotel has been unfairly dealt with in this matter. The two girls, Anne Price and Sophia Oakley, who took refuge in his house, it has been stated were enticed by him there to dance in his dancing room. This is not the case, as the girls were taken to his hotel late at night by some diggers, under whose protection they placed themselves.[5]

In December 1859 the hotel advertised for a first class cook.[6]

The publican William Benjamin Smith was a key witness into the death of surgeon, James Savage, who was found dead in the hotel's attic in June 1861:

An inquest was held at the Nugget Hotel, Buninyong, before G. Clendinning, Esq., Coroner of the district, on the body of James Savage, surgeon, who died suddenly on Saturday morning at the above mentioned hotel. The following jury were sworn in: Messrs Goode (foreman), White, Stewart, Johnstone, Birrell, Bennie, Stewart, Sayers, Burgess, Moss, Riley, and Baxter. The jury having viewed the body, which lay in the concert-room of the hotel, the following witnesses were examined. William B. Smith, landlord of the Nugget Hotel, sworn, stated that before giving his evidence he wished to refute the calumnious libel which had been made upon him in that morning's Times. The coroner, however, informed Mr Smith he could do so in his evidence. He then proceeded as follows I knew the deceased five years. His age was about 35, and he was an Irishman and a Roman Catholic. Upon Thursday evening about ten o'clock the deceased came into my house, his face all covered with blood, and with one boot on. I asked him where he had been, but from the state of intoxication that deceased was in he could not tell me. Myself and lodgers examined his head, fearing that he had been struck there, but could find no injury. I found subsequently that the blood came from a cut across the nose. I requested two of my lodgers to take him across to the boarding-house, where he had been stopping for the last five months, which they did, but informed me that admittance was refused to deceased. I then stated that he was sure to be ultimately taken in at the boarding-house. I was, however, so uneasy, that in about half an hour I sent two men over to fetch him to my own house, if he had not been taken in, as the night was frosty and cold, and I felt that it would be only charity to give him shelter for the night. Deceased had not been taken into the boarding house, and the men brought him over to my house. I then ordered him to be taken up stairs to the attic, which is a place not generally used as a sleeping apartment, but more frequently for poor men who cannot pay for the accommodation. My house was full. I provided him with a rug from my own bed, and pillows. About six o'clock in the morning, deceased knocked at the bar door and requested for God's sake a drop of colonial beer, as he was perished. I gave a pint to him, and subsequently another. Finding that he was begging a sixpence of some fishermen in the bar, I told him not to do so, and that if he would promise to go up stairs I would give him another pint of beer, which, upon getting, he did. About 2 p.m. I had a conversation with him for about half an hour. The conversation was principally about his affairs. He was quite rational. At about a quarter past four on Friday evening, the deceased came into the bar and requested me to send to the boarding-house for his medicine box, which I did by a man of the name of Kilpatrick. The box now produced is the one. He asked for two tumblers, and out of the packet now produced he took a small quantity on the point of a knife, and put it in the tumbler with some water, which he drank. The amount of stuff taken would cover a sixpence. Thinking this not enough, he further took a small quantity more, which he added to the previous quantity he had taken out of the parcel produced. To the jury - After having drank the powder, he requested from me a nobbler of brandy, and promised that he would go to bed and annoy me no more that day. I ordered him to get the brandy. By the jury - This was about half-past four o'clock. He did not remark anything about it being enough for him, or anything of that sort. He then thanked me for the brandy, and went up stairs to bed. I did not again see him alive. Next morning about twelve o'clock feeling surprised that he had not come down, I sent a man up to see what was the matter, who in a minute or so informed me he was dead. The man's name who found him was Kilpatrick. I could not believe it, and went up stairs myself and found that he was dead, and lying on his right side with his knee slightly contracted. His head was on the pillow, and he was warm. I then sent for Dr Rankin and the Sergeant of Police. By the jury-He was sober on the Thursday night. He was not outside my door, on the Friday, and all the drink he had was the three pints of beer and the nobbler of brandy. My sole motive in taking him into my house was pure charity, and a good feeling of friendship, as the deceased had no money to pay for anything. The deceased was accustomed to lie with his clothes on when he was drinking, and as his habits when drunk were most filthy, it was not usual to put him in a bed, although if I had one empty he should have had it. By the Coroner-I did not have one single sixpence from him for the last two years, although he has been in the habit of (after being turned out of every other house in Buninyong) coming to mine. By the Police -I know only from hearsay how the blood came upon his face. Deceased was in the habit of taking sudden fits of intemperance which, while they lasted, were generally the most desperate character. The paper out of which the deceased took the powder was marked "morphia".[7]

The former hotel building was sold in September 2014 for $520,000.[1]

Community Involvement[edit | edit source]

In April 1857 a community ball was to be held at the hotel:

Mr Tournay obtained permission for Mr Smith, of the Nugget Hotel, to keep his house open all next Monday night, for the purpose of a ball taking place, it being the intention of the committee of the Union Jack Lead to give a complimentary benefit in in the shape of a ball, to Mr Smith.[8]

Freemasons[edit | edit source]

The Freemasons held their first meeting at the Nugget Hotel in April 1858:

The first meeting was held on the 22nd April, 1858 at the Nugget Hotel with Charles J. Kenworthy as the Master, and the other two principal officers were James B. Cusack and Henry A. Corinaldi. Kenworthy and Corinaldi had been members of the Victoria Lodge in Ballarat, prior to being appointed the Master and deputy of the new Buninyong Lodge. Meetings at the Nugget did not last very long, for on the 19th November, 1858 the lodge changed its place of meeting to the Buninyong Hotel.[9]

The People[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Real, PRD Nationwide, [1]
  2. 2.0 2.1 Nugget Hotel, Historic Buildings of Buninyong, Wall plaque, Buninyong and District Historical Society, accessed 31 October 2015
  3. 3.0 3.1 1856 'BUNINYONG.', Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer (Vic. : 1851 - 1856), 1 April, p. 2. (DAILY), viewed 01 May 2018,
  4. 4.0 4.1 1856 'Advertising', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 14 August, p. 1. , viewed 07 May 2019,
  5. 5.0 5.1 1857 'BUNINYONG.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 24 March, p. 3. , viewed 15 Dec 2017,
  6. 1859 'Advertising', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 7 December, p. 4. , viewed 16 May 2019,
  7. 7.0 7.1 1861 'INQUEST AT BUNINYONG.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 11 June, p. 2. , viewed 16 Dec 2017,
  8. 1857 'BUNINYONG POLICE COURT.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 6 April, p. 2. , viewed 14 Jul 2018,
  9. Bell, Robert, Sturt-Buninyong United Lodge, [2]
  10. 1857 'POLICE COURT.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 12 June, p. 3. , viewed 16 Dec 2017,
  11. 1861 'LICENSED VICTUALLERS' ASSOCIATION.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 4 April, p. 1. (SUPPLEMENT TO THE STAR.), viewed 15 Jul 2023,

External Links[edit | edit source]