A Pub at Yuin Reef

Thanks to OnePlaceStudies for this April #OnePlacePubs prompt.

Readers please be aware that the newspaper articles contain offensive terms to Indigenous Australians.

The Yuin Club Hotel was the only one of its kind for miles. With the nearest towns and their respective pubs being about 60 miles away, the Yuin Club Hotel served as a welcome respite for those entering the Murchison district.

It is unsure exactly when it was established, but the property itself belonged to Mr. Owen McKenna, a powerful figure in the Yuin-Pindar-Yalgoo area. It is estimated that it could have been established any time from 1890-1900. In mid-1902, the proprietor of the pub at the time, Thomas Bold Houghton, suffered bad misfortune when the entirety of the building burnt down. The property had not been insured.

“Yalgoo”, Mount Magnet Miner and Lennonville Leader, 14 June 1902, page 2.

Thomas Bold Houghton continued as a hotelkeeper in 1903, and so it is assumed that the property was rebuilt. However, by 1905 Owen McKenna was advertising in the local newspaper for applicants to lease the Yuin Club Hotel for either three or five years.

“Tenders for Hotel Lease”, Geraldton Express and Murchison and Yalgo Goldfields Chronicler, 14 July 1905, page 4.

In December of 1907, the local Geraldton newspapers reported that a renewal of a wayside house license had been granted to John Brand at Yuin. Therefore, we can make the assumption that Brand had applied for and been granted the lease of McKenna’s Yuin Club Hotel in 1905. However, not all was well at this time at Yuin. Brand was to be put through particular hardship and criticism for the lack of alcoholic beverages in stock at Yuin.

At this time, Richard John Carlyon, owner of the mine, had just been declared bankrupt. Wages had not been paid to the miners and so the work was at a standstill. With the town almost deserted, John Brand had no customers and thus no income. This situation at the mine continued on for another two years, with little reprieve until E.L Lloyd purchased the mine site in 1909.

“Motley”‘, Mirror, 30 April 1909, page 23. Pt 1.
Pt 2.

Pt 3.

The author of this article described the terrible situation at Yuin and how this experience gave him nightmares and made him “wake in a cold sweat”, as he had exited the pub empty-handed to find the residents, including the goats, laughing at him. The year prior, John Brand had been warned on the renewal of his license that he must keep a better stock of liquors.

By 1910, John Brand, hotelkeeper, had gone bankrupt. So far it is unsure what happened to the hotel immediately after Brand left to work at Yuin Reef as a labourer, but in 1912 we see John Hutchins picking up the lease of the hotel. Hutchins continued as proprietor through 1913 and possibly until 1914.

Reginald Fremlin McLean, originally a storekeeper at Yuin Reef, took up the license for the Yuin Club Hotel. However, in May 1915 he was charged with “keeping a disorderly house” at the Yalgoo Police Court. A group of intoxicated men became unruly one night, pretending that the pub was a German trench and storming it to take charge of the premises. McLean did not report this unsatisfactory behaviour to a constable, and therefore he was fined 14 pounds. Perhaps McLean did not care to report this behaviour as his brother was at that time in Egypt, fighting in WWI.

George Morley then took over the lease from Reginald F McLean in that same month, but this lease was short-lived. In December of 1915, Police Constable George Jorgen Jensen purchased the free-hold of the Hotel from E. McKenna (the son of original owner Owen McKenna, who had passed away in London the year prior).

By 1916, Thomas Patrick Gill held the lease for the Yuin Club Hotel and worked it through to 1918 when it was taken over by Richard Annakin. Annakin, originally from England, had ties with the Brand family through his daughter Adelaide, who had married John Brand’s son. He continued on until about 1921, when Charles Ward took over the lease.

By 1925, George Jorgen Jensen, owner of the Yuin Club Hotel, was the sole hotel-keeper there. After his passing in 1927, his wife, Annie Jensen, continued as the owner and hotel-keeper of the Club Hotel. Annie is listed as hotel-keeper there until 1931, but it is unsure whether her name just appeared on the Electoral Roll for that time or she was actually working there. This 1927 poem gives the impression that by this time, the entirety of Yuin Reef was abandoned. However, the mine would continue to be worked until 1937, so perhaps the Hotel remained while the rest of the buildings at Yuin descended into ruin.

“Original Verse”, Western Mail, 8 September 1927, page 9.


Ancestry.com. Australia, Electoral Rolls, 1903-1980 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.

“Yalgoo Yappings”, Geraldton Express, 27 December 1907, page 4.

“Yalgoo Yarns”, Geraldton Express, 16 December 1908, page 3.

“Yalgoo”, Geraldton Express, 21 May 1915, page 4.

“Yalgoo”, Geraldton Express, 31 December 1915, page 3.

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