Ball at the Hibernia Hotel, 1857 UPDATED

Sketches of Australian life and scenery, by S T Gill.  Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria Collection. H15524.

(From a Correspondent.)

THE opening ball of the Hibernia Hotel came off last evening (Monday) in regular Hibernian style. At an early hour the friends of the worthy host gathered from the surrounding neighbourhood to the scene of action, where a very select number of the fair sex were in waiting  illuminate the pleasures of the ball. The orchestral arrangements  were conducted by Mr. Griffith, cornet by Mr. Barlow, and the harp  by Mr Lyons. Never did the fantastic toe so lightly fly through the  graceful motions of the dance-nor ever was more justice done to the true character of " granuale." From 9 to 5 o'clock in the morning the sport continued in the midst of tranquility and union. The arrangements of the supper table were certainly second to none ever made in the district. The appearance of the diggers seemed entirely enthusiastic, but whether it arose from the merits of the free supper, or the recollections of times past, present, or a future hope remains a mystery to be solved.

About twenty minutes to one o'clock on Tuesday morning an alarm of fire at the Britannia Hotel was given throughout the street, when a number of diggers left the ball to render assistance in saving the property of Mr De Berg, the proprietor. To the police authorities, the conduct of constables Delany and Fitzpatrick is recommended which renders them worthy of promotion for the courageous manner in which they acted in stopping the progress of the fire. It appears that one  of the servants left a candle in a careless manner in her bed room, and the inner lining having ignited in her absence, caused the adjoining  apartments to blaze considerably for about five minutes. The night being wet saved the roof from adding to the fire.

WOOLSHED. (1857, October 21). Ovens and Murray Advertiser (Beechworth, Vic. : 1857 - 1918), p. 2. Retrieved October 9, 2013, from 

  • "Mr Barlow" is identified in Austral Harmony as John Barlow, a musician active in Melbourne in 1855 and Beechworth in 1857.
  • "Mr Lyons" is identified in Austral Harmony as John Christian Lyons, harp player, chemist and journalist, active in Beechworth in 1857
  • Jacb V de Burg was a tentmaker at Woolshed in the Ovens Directory 1857
A "granule" is an Irish barn dance, and presumably a regular offering at the Hiberian (Irish) Hotel.

UPDATE Richard Patterson in Nobblers and Lushingtons (p 306) places the hotel at Woolshed Creek at Sebastopol Flat, and that it was largely destroyed by fire in 1861.  The licensee in 1857 was John Brock, replaced by Henry Johnston in 1858.