Historic pub tells tales of convict past

HERITAGE: The beer garden at the Clarendon Arms Hotel features convict-built walls from the 19th century. Pictures: Melissa Mobbs

HERITAGE: The beer garden at the Clarendon Arms Hotel features convict-built walls from the 19th century. Pictures: Melissa Mobbs

It may be known to some as the pub where Mark “Chopper” Read was drinking before he shot former bikie boss Sidney Collins, but to licensee Angela McCubbin the Clarendon Arms Hotel is “just home”.

Chopper spent six years in Risdon prison for shooting Collins after being at the Clarendon Arms in Evandale in 1992.

The story of the shooting is one of many tales about the iconic hotel which has nearly two centuries of history.

Established in 1847 and classified by the National Trust, the hotel features 160-year-old convict-built walls in its beer garden. 

Beneath its Georgian facade you will find the remnants of the old watch house and convict cells where it is believed criminals were housed before being transported to Hobart.

Among the prisoners who served time at Evandale was John Kelly, father of Australia's most notorious bushranger Ned Kelly.

A rickety ladder leads the way into what's left of the old convict cells which the Clarendon Arms was built on in 1847.

A rickety ladder leads the way into what's left of the old convict cells which the Clarendon Arms was built on in 1847.

While many visit the 19th century site to discover the mysteries that lay beneath, hand-painted murals within the building have become one of its most popular tourist attractions.

Artist Arne Brewster created the images in 1978 which represent significant events throughout Evandale’s history.

In the rest of the hotel tourists can discover memorabilia from its early days which line the walls of the bar and dining room.

Artist Arne Brewster hand painted murals on the walls of the pub in 1978 to illustrate significant moments in the history of Evandale.

Artist Arne Brewster hand painted murals on the walls of the pub in 1978 to illustrate significant moments in the history of Evandale.

The business was taken over by Ms McCubbin in 2006 when she moved from Western Australia hoping for a lifestyle change.

Ten years on, Ms McCubbin said she was still hearing stories from its past.

“It’s got a colourful history, a colourful past,” she said.

“If the walls could talk there’d be quite a few stories.

“I’ve met bar managers who are in their 80s and who used to work here a long time ago. Evandale is full of families who have been here all their lives so there’s just so much history.”

Other than a few upgrades and minor additions over the years, she said “not much has changed”.

“You look at the foundations which were built more than 160 years ago and they're still in prime condition,” she said.

“It’s just amazing how they did it back then.”

Living upstairs at the venue, Ms Mccubbin did not rule out the possibility of it being haunted by its past.

“The staff, myself and my kids have all seen weird things over the years,” she said.

Licensee Angela McCubbin has been running the historic Clarendon Arms Hotel at Evandale since 2006 when she relocated from Western Australia.

Licensee Angela McCubbin has been running the historic Clarendon Arms Hotel at Evandale since 2006 when she relocated from Western Australia.

The hotel is now up for sale, and Ms McCubbin said she hoped it would continue to be the landmark building it is today.

“I hope it lasts forever,” she said.

“The historical value of it is so significant to Evandale.

“A lot of people don’t even know about its history.”

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