Craig's Hotel Lydiard St Sth

Reveal the past and the present!

Instructions Drag the line left or right to reveal what this location looked like many decades ago.
  • 1853

    Thomas bath opens Ballarat Hotel
  • 1854

    renamed Bath's Hotel
  • 1855

    Royal Commission into Eureka Stockade held
  • 1857

    Walter Craig buys hotel, re-names it Craig's
  • 1865

    crew of Confederate cruiser USS Shenandoah greeted at official ball
  • 1867

    Adam Lindsay Gordon runs Craig's stables
  • 1875

    Melbourne Racing Club formed by prominent Ballarat squatters
  • 1883

    William Bentley purchases hotel
  • 1890

    work begins on replacing two storey corner of Bath Lane and Lydiard St with tower
  • 1895

    Mark Twain stays overnight on speaking tour of Australia
  • 1908

    Dame Nellie Melba sings from balcony to crowd below

Craig's is one of the most historic hotels in Ballarat, and is significant as the site of the Royal Commission into the Eureka Stockade, a temporary Ballarat Town Hall, the scene of a huge ball with fugitive American Civil War fighters, the workplace of famed poet Adam Lindsay Gordon, resting place for the visiting Mark Twain, and birthplace of the Melbourne Racing Club, originators of the Caulfield Cup.
Originally built and opened as one of the earliest licensed premises as the Ballarat Hotel in 1853, Walter Craig purchased the building from Thomas Bath and re-opened it as Craig's in 1857.
In 1865 the sudden arrival of the CSS Shenandoah, a Confederate cruiser running as a pirate raider in the US Civil War, docked in Melbourne, and a delegation of officers headed to Ballarat

The wealth, beauty and fashion of Ballarat were out in full force... every attention that kindness and courtesy could suggest was shown us, and more than one heart beat quicker at such convincing evidence of the existence of sympathy in this country of the Antipodes, for the service in which we were engaged. Many a grey uniform coat lost its gilt buttons that night, but we saw them again ere we bade a final adieu to Australia, suspended from watch guards depending from the necks of bright-eyed women..." Cornelius Hunt, The Shenandoah

But it was the brief stay of Adam Lindsay in Craig's stables along Bath Lane that links this street to one of the greats of Australian literature. Adam Lindsay Gordon, known later as the 'national poet', moved himself, his wife and his newborn daughter to live in a cottage here after living in Robe, South Australia.
In 12 turbulent months from November 1867 he rented the livery stables business with a partner, he suffered a head injury from a horse, his newborn daughter died, his business failed... and finally he won three races at the Melbourne Hunt Club steeplechase meeting in October the next year.
His original cottage has been preserved in the Ballarat Botanical Gardens, and Craig's is preserved in Adam Lindsay Gordon's poem Banker's Dream:

At the road once again, pulling hard on the rein,Craig's pony popp'd in and popp'd out ;I followed like smoke, and the pace was no joke,For his friends were beginning to shout.

At Craig's Gordon was also a close companion with the brother of Herbert Power, who was one of the six thoroughbred owners who gathered at Craig's Hotel one night in 1875 and formed the Victorian Amateur Turf Club.
The first Victorian Amateur Turf Club race was run at Dowling Forst, outside of Ballarat - before moving to Caulfield, and becoming the Caulfield Cup.
There's local talk of a ghost and things that go bump in the night in the cellars of Craig's... and there's the legend of the hotel's namesake - and his love for racehorses - which lingers...In 1870 Walter Craig was said to have dreamed of his horse Nimblefoot winning the Melbourne Cup, but in the dream when he approached the rider was wearing a black armband.Sure enough, Walter Craig's horse Nimblefoot won the Melbourne Cup in 1870 - some three months after Walter Craig died. The jockey wore black armbands to mark Craig's passing.

Have a wander down Bath Lane to see the doors to the original stables, and then we head back down Lydiard Street and back onto Sturt Street for our next stop at the Town Hall.

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