(By Frank Treloar.)
The first three hotels opened in Burra were the Burra Hotel, Pig and Whistle and Smelters Arms, and were built by the Mining Association.
The Burra Hotel stood on a large block of land specially set aside in the early survey of Kooringa for hotel purposes. It was a well built stone building with many conveniences around, including assembly rooms, which made it the leading hotel of the north for many years. Nearby was the first brewery in Burra. When the Directors of the Mine changed their policy from only leasing build- ing blocks for 21 years to selling the freehold it enabled the ground on which Lawrence's and Lynch's hotels stand to be purchased and with their coming into existence much of the trade of the Burra Hotel slipped away to the two new houses, which were more in the centre of the town. Later on when the great need of a Public Hospital for Burra and the North presented itself the old hotel was sold for hospital purposes. As time has passed many additions and improvements have been made leav- ing very little of the old hotel to be seen, except the massive stone steps and a small portion of the original building near by. The Pig and Whistle Hotel was situated near the creek on Mitchell's Flat in the centre of the area occu- pied by miners' cottages, and was essentially the miners hotel. While the mine worked it had a lively time, but after the miners left for Wal- laroo and other places it nad a fitful existence, until one Sunday evening about 35 years ago, it was burned down. With the licence the present day Kooringa Hotel new Paxton Square, came into existence. The land on which the old Pig and Whistle stood is now owned by Mr. R. Vou- mard who I have heard it said still retairns the old signboard. The Smelters' Arms stood at the northern end of the town adjoining Aberdeen and while the smelters were in blast and large quantities of fire- wood were continually going to the mine or smelts it had a busy time. When operations ceased it was sold by the directors to the Opie family, who changed its name to Opie's Hotel and retained it right up to the Gov- ernments closing of hotels in Burra, and then it passed into the owner- ship of Mr. Robert Fuss, who uses it for residential and business purposes.
There was another hotel further up the creek in Aberdeen, which had an experience worth mentioning. The mine, for the convenience of the drays passing between the mine and the smelts, made a substantial cross ing, the remains of which can be seen to this day near what is known as the Mine Bridge. This crossing together with the slimes continually arriving down from the mine during heavy rains, on one occasion blocked and held back the flood waters com- ing down the creek until they flood- ed the cellar and lower portions of the hotel (White Hart I think) caus- ing considerable damage for which the owner claimed damages from the "Directors of Mine". At first they declined to admit their liability, but when legal -aetton was - started they engaged a licensed surveyor to make a careful survey of levels when it was found the top of the crossing and the entrance to the hotel cellar were on a level. The Directors then set- tled the claim out of Court. After- wards better provision was made for the flood water to get away. Look- ing at the creek to-day it seems al- most unbelievable that such a thing could have happened. Many good stories have been told from time to time of the happenings around those three early hotels, most of which have been forgotten long ago but memory lingers on three that happened within the halo of the old Pig and Whistle worth repeating. First — Among the men working on the mine was one considered a good worker, his greatest fault being that he was easily led at times. That often meant that too much of his earnings drifted to the 'Pig.' Com- ing home from there one night, under the influence, in an irritable mood, ready to find fault with anything and everything, his wife knew by ex- perience it was no use trying to rea- son. On some impulse he turned on the furniture and started breaking it up. Next morning there was the usual headache, dry throat and in ad- dition, broken furniture, staring him in the face, so he went to work a sad and sorry man. Through the day his wife, as was her usual custom, sent him up his lunch or dinner (a Cornish pasty) which on being opened was found to contain pieces of the broken furniture nicely arranged, in stead of the usual good things. Others sitting nearby saw what happened which added to his momentary re- sentment against his wife. But there was one among them who shared his lunch Dnth him and took advantage to point out, in a few chosen words, that
perhaps the wife was prompted by his own actions to send him the "Fur- niture Pasty." On returning home he was in a better mood, and manly enough to acknowledge his faults. That evening new resolves were made including one that for the future his earnings should come home and that pasty was the turning point to better surroundings in that little home on Mitchell's flat. Second story is of a different char-
acter. — Two boys full of fun used to meet of an evening after work for their little amusements. Meeting one night they decided to go up to the Burra Hotel (present Hospital). It happened to be a quiet night there so they decided to go to the 'Pig and Whistle.' On the way after passing the Methodist Church near the creek just behind what is known to-day as Harris's block they came across a man down on his hands and knees holding on to the ground mumbling to him- self. The truth was he had left the 'Pig and Whistle' shortly before well primed up and was heading for home as he thought, but the night air was too overpowering and shortly after he rolled over to sleep off' the effects. Boys are not long at coming to a decision and this is what they did. They went back to the but- chers, saw everything was quiet, took his cart noiselessly, away down con- veniently near 'His Nibbs', let down the tailboard and rolled him in, leav- ing him to enjoy his new cot. They then vanished and decided to keep away from the 'Pig.' A little fur- ther on they came across some goats lying in the shade, busily chewing their cud, a pastime they are fond of when not in mischief. They caught one and afterwards put it in Mrs. — garden. Again they vanish- ed quickly and went home satisfied with their night's experiences. Bright and early next morning the master- mind of that two boys was up to see results and reached Mrs. — in time to hear her well keyed up on the loud speaker, go off about goats generally and people that kept them. He then went on to the butcher's (Uhlmann's) who had just missed his cart. Quite naturally the boy suggested having seen one as he came along near the creek. The butcher then took his horses down and brought it back. On letting the tailboard down to his sur- prise out rolled 'His Nibbs' looking a sorry figure and wanting to fight and it was some time before the but- cher could satisfy him, and he was hot a party to the joke. In after years that boy had the in and out life of the times including carting on the Barrier track. Later at Broken Hill he struck a bit of luck and died there. During his later life he was very friendly with Mr. Will Ewins — but Will was not the other boy. Third—- The Burra had taken on the garb of a Corporated town and the annual elections were approaching. For the Mayoral Chair there were two candidates, Dr. Nesbitt and Mr. Lip- sett, a very tall man, who had a dra- per's business near Lane's shop, and the contest promised to be very keen. In every community there are men keen enough to look on ahead and map out what is likely to influence an election. In this case one of the leading men of Burra made it his business to secure a list of ratepay- ers entitled to vote and on going through it carefully he saw what is generally termed the floating vote was going to have a big say in the final result. Moreover he saw that the' bulk of the floaters were within the halo or influence of the "Pig and Whistle." Meetings Sam Davis the landlord casually a few days after- wards the all absorbing topic of the town (the elections) cropped up, and a wager was made which in effect was that if Dr. Nesbitt were successful Sam would win a case of champagne. When eventually polling day arrived it was soon seen it was to be a keen contest. Through the day the brewery sent over a cask of ale which, being free and in a con- venient, position, was well patronised. When closing time arrived it was only natural everybody was tuned up for the result which was that Dr. Nesbitt was elected. After the declaration there was soon good fun. Drew's and Lipsett's started a slaughter sale of top hats or belltoppers which in a few lines came down so low in price that they were being worn on the street that night by all the fun- makers and that practically killed wearing top hats in Burra. Many went home thinking it had been a per- fect day and something like an elec- tion. Years have passed since then, Town Councils have come: and gone, all trying to do their best for |jhe town. Mistakes of course have be«fi made, that happens everywhere, but' ft''«^riy^J^:''t»'toy.^t^ibi.Bu*ra-' stands out to-day -as ?a JEairly wellr improved town, considering its scat tered area, and it should have been pleasing to th£ late Ma^or -Mr^A. ;B. Biggs) and his Councillors to^baye: been able to present his statement at the last ratepayers meeting, so near ly balanced in these time of financial depression. - \ y 'For many years the policy ; 'of ?$b& Burra Corporation has been to studi ously avoW any overhead or conting ent liability that would mean years of flogging to pay oflxand isrhile .'_? that policy -is fbliibwe'a: the ratepayers should have little cause to complain.