McCorry's Old Hotel Road Nungarin

Old Hotel Road Nungarin

A Little Bit of History

McCorry's Hotel is an aesthetically pleasing stone building which represents significant historic and cultural development of the Nungarin District. It is an important example of local construction using materials & methods available at the time.

The Building originally contained Front and Saloon Bars, Dining Room, Drawing Room, Lounge, 6 bedrooms, Kitchen, Pantry, Cellar, Staff Quarters and various outbuildings.

At the end of the nineteenth century, the McCorry family were established in Northam where Alma Constantine ( Con") McCorry, his sister Margaret Ann ("Molly"), and brother-in-law Joseph O'Hara were joint owners of the Shamrock Hotel. Con was also a director of the Avon Brewery and Ice Company.

Con's father came to the colony in 1866 as an enrolled pensioner guard, and was allocated a ten acre pensioner block on the north side of Mt O'Manney at Northern.
In 1900, McCorry took over William Leeder's grazing lease of 300,000 acres in the Nungarin and Dandanning area and in 1910, he purchased 3,000 acres of farming land bordering Noongarin (Nungarin) Rock. Con and Elizabeth were amongst the earliest settlers in the Nungarin district and established a homestead with sheds and stables alongside the Rock. During this early agricultural period Con was responsible for establishing 10 wells, 8 dams, and about 100 miles of fencing.

At the time, the Northam-Goomalling-Merredin railway line was being constructed, and McCorry was optimistic that the line would pass through his property. He began construction on a blacksmith's shop, a store and a stone hotel of twenty rooms. He also subdivided the land adjoining the hotel into half-acre blocks.

Unfortunately the line was diverted and by-passed the McCorry property to the south. The hotel was completed, and officially opened on New Year's Day, 1913. It functioned in its remote location until 1929 when the Kalgoorlie Brewery and Ice Company built the present two storey hotel in Railway Avenue.

Following the discovery of gold at Moujakine by Charles Glass in 1887, there was a flurry of prospecting and mining activity. It has been noted that A.C.McCorry attended certain mines and shafts in the district in 1911, but the measure of his success is unknown. Perhaps the drought that increased hardship in the district in those early years had prompted him to look for an alternative income, as farmers that had purchased goods on credit at the McCorry store were unable to pay their debts.

Even such difficult beginnings were unable to quench the buoyant spirit of those early pioneers, and it was with great optimism that a meeting was convened at McCorry's Hotel on Saturday 15th February 1913, and the Nungarin Race Club was formed. The club was registered under the rules of the Western Australian Turf Club, and Con McCorry was given a vote of thanks for making land available for the purpose. Later, McCorry also gave land for the establishment of the Nungarin Rifle Club.

Even though businesses had begun to spring up alongside the railway line, McCorry's Nungarin Hotel continued to attract activity to the North of the present town. In 1917, the Nungarin and Surrounding Districts Agricultural Society was formed with Con McCorry as inaugural president, and the first agricultural show was held on vacant land between the town and McCorry's on 29th September.

It is obvious that McCorry continued to be greatly involved in the community. Advertising at about this time describes him as an auctioneer, stock station and general commission agent. In 1921 he was the Country Party candidate for the Avon Electorate in the Legislative Assembly, and between 1927 and 1932 McCorry served as a member of the Nungarin Road Board.

In 1923, Elizabeth, McCorry's wife of twenty nine years died. She was 47 years of age, and had borne 13 children. She is buried at the south-west corner of Nungarin Rock. Con survived her by 27 years. He died in 1950 aged 79 years, and is buried in the Catholic portion of the Nungarin Cemetery along with 5 of his thirteen children.
The wording on McCorry's headstone in the Nungarin Cemetery is incorrect, giving his name as Alma Constance. He was named Alma Constantine by his father after the Battle of Alma in the Crimean War.

The McCorry family members were all musically talented, and the old hotel had a reputation for lively entertainment. In Kel Watkins book, Send 'erDown Hughie, McCorry's is mentioned as a fairly rough and tumble establishment with frequent brawls, rapes, assaults, and even a murder! Even tough the building ceased to be used as a licensed hotel, it continued to serve as a residence until the early 60s. During the war, the building was subdivided into flats, and used to house army personnel and their families. In more recent times it was even used to store hay!

In the mid-seventies, a local committee was formed to restore the building. The owners at the time (the Roberts family) agreed to transfer the building to the Shire, in return for a suitable shed to house the hay that was stored there. The first phase of the restoration was undertaken by a local committee in conjunction with Westrek program for unemployed youth, and the Hotel was re-opened on 14th April, 1978.

In 1979/80, the Nungarin Shire obtained a grant under the National Estate Program, and further restoration work was accomplished (National Trust Architect - Warwick Broomfield).

The Shire established a caravan park alongside the Hotel, and in 1997, a lease was granted to the Bellamy family (Rural Concepts) who have undertaken extensive restoration and development, and made the building available for meals and overnight accommodation.