Contact Person Nick Jarvis

The Hidden Secrets- The Bush Inn to Celebrate 200 years

One of my favorite pubs is about to celebrate 200 years serving beers! Its such a great place full of rich history and plenty of tALES.

Think you will find the reference to Royal Derwent/Willow Court & and the Ghost room rather interesting.



Australia’s oldest continuously licensed hotel is preparing to celebrate its bicentenary in the coming months.

Named after DW Bush, the clerk of Reverend “Bobby” Knopwood, who was the first chaplain in the colony, the Bush Inn at New Norfolk was built in 1815 and became licensed in 1825.

Current lessee Don Smith said although there is no definitive date as to when construction of the heritage-listed building was complete, various signs and documents show 1815 as the year.

“I know it’s September or October sometime. I thought it was about March but apparently it’s not,” Mr Smith said.

“[There’s] only the sign the out the front saying it was established in 1815.”

The hidden secrets of New Norfolk

The long and rich history of the hotel is proudly displayed on the walls of the building in the form of plaques and photographs.

As well as a haunted room, Mr Smith said there was a well-known, but hidden tunnel underneath the pub, which he would like to learn more about and explore.

“It [was] used to transport the patients from the [Derwent] River to the Royal Derwent [Hospital] so they wouldn’t be seen on the public streets,” Mr Smith said.

“It’s all blocked off at the moment but I’d like to get in and take a look.”

Mr Smith said he has seen video of the inside of the tunnel, which may have also been used as a sewer drain.

“I’ve seen actual footage of it and it’s about five-feet deep and about three-foot wide,” he said.

“Hopefully one day we’ll see what’s behind there.”

Rich history still stands

The hotel proudly displays memorabilia of a christening font from when the pub acted as a chapel prior to another church being built in the 1830s.

There are still records from famous singers who visited in 1924, and signs commemorating the first telephone call in the Commonwealth made from the hotel in 1888 and the first call to London in 1939.

Underneath the pub, there is a large wooden door which once led to a wine cellar and butchery down stone steps.

“That’d be as old as the pub,” Mr Smith said of the door.

“We’ve got some steps that are leading inside to outside and you can see how worn they are.

“It leads straight outside to the main road. It would’ve been pretty scary here of a night I reckon.”

room 6

Room Six haunted by ghost of young girl

All of the rooms above the pub contain old, high beds as well as baths, but Room Six, known as “the ghost room”, has a small single bed and a chair in a corner and is said to be haunted by a ghost resembling a small girl.

“There’s a little girl that must’ve fell down the stairs going back nearly 200 years ago and there’s been sightings of her… I’ve heard noises,” Mr Smith said.

“The first night I stayed here, I stayed here by myself.

“There was no one here at all, just me… I can tell you it was pretty scary.”

Mr Smith said plans to celebrate the anniversary are still being organised, but colonial-era clothing will be worn at the celebrations and dances with the local Derwent Valley Concert Band are planned.

The often hotly-debated title of the longest serving hotel in Australia is said to be between the Hope and Anchor in Hobart and the Bush Inn, but Mr Smith said his establishment to take the title and put an end to the argument.