TIME­LINE

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - – 1900 – 1911 – 1919 – 1942 – 1964 – 1971 – 2001 – 2015 – 2018 –

1878 The North Aus­tralian Ho­tel, later known as the Cen­tral Ho­tel, was built as a sin­gle storey struc­ture by De­nis O’Brien, who ar­rived from Cook­town with his wife Teresa Fin­lay and daugh­ter when Port Dou­glas was a tent town. O’Brien also built the Ex­change Ho­tel in Moss­man in 1896. The num­ber of li­censed ho­tels in the district was 21 – 18 in town and three near the Bump Rd.

Out of a to­tal of maybe as high as 23 pubs in Port Dou­glas’ hey­day, only four were still trad­ing: the Ex­change, owned by F.D.A. (Fred­eric Detlep An­dreas) Carstens of Copen­hagen (op­po­site the Cen­tral Ho­tel), the North Aus­tralian, owned by Brid­get Tait, (to be­come the Cen­tral in 1919), the Cale­do­nian owned by Robert McLean on the cor­ner of Warner and Wharf streets, and the Court House Ho­tel owned by An­nie Rose for­merly Buchanan.

March 16: A cy­clone dev­as­tated Port Dou­glas and sur­round­ing coun­try­side, the sec­ond “blow” within five weeks. Within 24 hours, 16 inches of rain fell. Only seven out of 57 houses were left stand­ing with 100 per­sons left home­less. There was sim­i­lar dam­age at Moss­man. Mrs Brid­get Tait’s North Aus­tralian Ho­tel was re­built as a two-storey ho­tel. Some of it sur­vives to­day as the Cen­tral Ho­tel. Brid­get ran the ho­tel with four of her daugh­ters (Liz, Ag, Mag and Ethel) for many years, hav­ing come from Irvinebank and Mon­tal­bion.

The North Aus­tralian ho­tel was re­named the Cen­tral.

March 9: The Li­censed Vict­uallers Li­cence for the Cen­tral Ho­tel was sus­pended dur­ing the War and lifted on Fe­bru­ary 22, 1945. El­iz­a­beth Tait held the li­cence from 1927 un­til 1945 when it passed to Rachael Mary Frost.

Septem­ber 3 Ken Shirley was the li­censee of the Cen­tral Ho­tel from 1964 un­til April 8, 1966. Ken’s wife Bille had pur­chased the ho­tel be­fore Ken dis­cov­ered the Po­sei­don nickel mine in 1969 in WA which cre­ated a stock mar­ket boom.

Mocka’s Pies, made to his mother Belle’s se­cret recipe, was es­tab­lished by Mau­rice ‘Mocka’ Cheyne in the Cen­tral Ho­tel. In 1973 they moved over the road to the Rain­bow Café in Macrossan St. The pies were very pop­u­lar and were fran­chised in Mel­bourne and the Gold Coast. Cen­sus pop­u­la­tion was Dou­glas 4072. Port Dou­glas 377.

For­mer US Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton was in the bar of the Cen­tral Ho­tel at the time of the at­tacks on the World Trade Cen­tre in New York on Septem­ber 11.

Cen­tral Ho­tel had per­mis­sion from Dou­glas Shire Coun­cil to re­move its mo­tel units. It re­cently ren­o­vated its kitchen and will re­lo­cate its gam­ing room from ground floor into two ex­ist­ing mo­tel rooms. Own­ers are the Hil­rok Ho­tel Group.

The Cen­tral Ho­tel turns 140 this year, though Oc­to­ber 6 isn’t its his­tor­i­cal date.

Time­line com­plied by Pam Wil­lis Bur­den and Noel Weare from the Dou­glas Shire His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety.

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