Hotels in Stratford

SAFCA Stratford Freshwater Community Association

Barron River Hotel.
Image: Dave Phoenix

Halfway House, 1877

The town of Smithfield was surveyed in December 1876. Initially all supplies to the new settlement town arrived by boat along the Barron River. Robert Jackson Craig (1845-1877), agent for Townsville merchants Clifton & Aplin Co. erected a wharf at the end of one of the two main streets in Smithfield.

Clifton & Aplin Co also erected a store further downstream on the banks of the Barron which became known as the Halfway House. At the Halfway House, steamers were lightened in order to allow them to continue upstream to Smithfield. The Halfway House was situated on the south bank of the Barron River near the bend where Lily Bank Guest House is today.

Stratford Hotel, 1887

In 1887 William Boden opened the Stratford Hotel to serve the many construction workers who were building the first stage of the new railway to Kuranda. The hotel was owned by government surveyor Thomas Behan who also owned the Stratford Rice Mill. One of Behan’s employees, a surveyor called A D ‘Bunda’ Edwards, died in one of the hotel rooms in 1889. As part of his survey work Edwards named Kuranda. Bunda Street in Parramatta Park and Bundaberg were named after him.

Range Hotel, 1888

The Range Hotel opened in 1888 with Alex Finlayson as the licensee. In February 1889 he transferred the licence to William Innes.

As well as operating the hotel, Innes opened a store and corn cracking plant.

SAFCA Stratford Freshwater Community AssociationCairns Post, 4 June 1890, page 4.

Tully’s Hotel, 1926

In 1926 there were between 20 to 30 houses in Stratford. The Acacia Bank Co had built the first bridge across the Barron and J M Johnston had opened the new timber mill which employed over 120 people. Jim and Madge Tully bought the property next door to Mr & Mrs Scanlan and on 1 November 1926 opened Tully’s Stratford Hotel.

The hotel was popular with employees from the timber mill who would cash their fortnightly pay cheques there. There was also a small hall at the back of the pub (near today’s Holmes Street) where dances and euchre parties were held. Dances were held on Saturday nights and there was often a mid-week dance. Autobuses left the Tropical Theatre in Cairns at 8.00 pm for Stratford. Tickets for the dance could be bought on the bus and the bus was free for anyone purchasing a ticket. Music was provided by the Hills Dance band, led by Mr Hill of course, and there were dance and euchre competitions.

The hall also doubled as the Sunday School before the Church of England church opened after WWII. After Sunday School the children would go to the back door of the pub where Mrs Tully would give everyone a soft drink.

SAFCA Stratford Freshwater Community Association

Tully’s Hotel, c.1926.
Image: Barron River Hotel.

SAFCA Stratford Freshwater Community Association

Tully’s Stratford Hotel, 1945.
Image: Cairns Historical Society (P Album 77a).

Tully’s Hotel has been renamed several times; when it was bought by the Andrejics it became Andrejics Hotel and then the Stratford Hotel. In 1995 the pub was purchased by Heritage Hotels Pty Ltd who closed the building for extensive renovations. Landlord of the hotel and director of Heritage Hotels Pty, Chris Cameron, planned each venue in the hotel to feature a different period in the history of Stratford. The pub was reopened on 17 October 1997 as the Barron River Hotel.


The Stratford Heritage Trail is an initiative of the
Stratford & Freshwater Community Association