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7: Camp Hotel


Mr Hedrick was an early settler in Learmonth, purchasing a block of land at the 1859 town lots sale. In 1860 he was a storekeeper selling groceries, paints, ironmongery and merchandise, and by the end of 1861 he had completed a new store to be used as a grain and produce store.

He next applied to build extensive additions to his dwelling house, and apparently noticing the town of Learmonth was rapidly developing he also applied for a hotel license.

This was the beginning of the Camp Hotel and in 1863 Matthew Ryan who had previously been licensee of the Golden Well Hotel at Dowling Forest, became the first licensee. In the same year Mr Hedrick died and Matthew Ryan purchased the hotel and continued the business. The Ryan family decided not to continue with the store and by May 1864, James Oddie & Co held a "Sale By Auction" of goods at the store of the Late Mr Hedrick.

It is interesting to note the variety of goods that Learmonth residents were able to purchase.


Groceries, Oilman’s Stores, etc (in small quantities for private families), comprising coffee, black and orange pekoe tea, biscuits, chocolate and cocoa, jams, salad oils, pickles, sauces, sugar, cheese, oatmeal, currants, candles, starch, lemon and orange peel, raisins, spices, lollies, etc etc.

Such as platform scales and weights, canisters, scoops, measures, ornamental bottles and show tins etc. SADDLERY AND IRONMONGERY also, an excellent assortment of HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE, comprising rocking and other chairs, folding sofa, tables, large pier glass, chiffonier, pictures, books, cutlery, delph, culinary utensils, etc.


A fire occurred at the Camp Hotel on 6th Sep 1900. Fortunately only the stable was destroyed.

Members of the Ryan family held the licensee until1907.  A James Ackers or Aikers was licensee from 1907 – 1910, followed by John Doolan until 1913.

In March that year the license was transferred to George Ashmore.  Later, in July a J P Wilson claimed ₤48/10/- from John Doolan as commission for introducing George Ashmore as a prospective purchaser for the hotel. A private sale had followed which had incensed Mr Wilson.  A court hearing was held, but owing to Ashmore being unable to attend owing to illness, the case was adjourned.


Some tough characters visited the Learmonth hotels.  Following is a report from the 8th July Argus, 1908.

George A Garvie and his brother Robert, two men residing in Learmonth, on Tuesday paid the penalty for a fracas in which they joined on the 25th of last month.  On the afternoon of that date Constable Hart was informed that the two brothers had created a disturbance at the Balmoral Hotel, about a mile from Learmonth and the people there were afraid for their lives.  On arriving at the place he found the two brothers had been fighting, George having repeatedly knocked his brother down.  Hart advised them to leave the place, and John Whateley supplemented his advice.

In return Whateley was assaulted by George Garvie who struck him on the mouth, felling him to the floor.  Hart next received the attention of the couple. One of them threw him into the corner of the room then lay across his neck nearly choking him, while the other proceeded to knock him about.  Hart extricated himself, but the attack was renewed when he experienced another bad time of it, and wisely withdrew for the time being.  The Garvies left some time later ands drove to the Camp Hotel Learmonth where Hart made another attempt to apprehend them, but they got away, leaving their vehicle behind them.  He reported the matter, and warrants were issued for the arrest of the two men.  Constables Hart, Hevey of Miners Rest and Harnetts of Waubra subsequently took them.

Powerfully built fellows with 50-inch chests, they were charged ₤5 each for the first offence and ₤1 each for the second.


In Oct of the same year, the license was transferred to Ada McKenzie of the Stag Hotel, 1914 to Evelyn Webb and 1915 – 1916 to William Stewart when it was de-licensed and demolished.

The late Arthur Goad remembered attending, with his father, the sale of the Camp Hotel furnishings.  They purchased a single bed for Arthur who in later years did not know of its whereabouts. He also suggested that doors from the hotel were probably put into some Learmonth homes.




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