Melbourne’s first pubs opened soon after the founding of the colony in 1835. Legislation required that any licensed premises should provide accommodation, and liquor could only be served for consumption on the premises. Twenty annual licences had been issued by 1839.
Melbourne was first settled by Europeans in 1835. John Batman had negotiated a “purchase” with the local aboriginal people in April of that year. In late August and early September, parties of settlers led by John Batman and by John Lancy (acting on behalf of John Pascoe Fawkner) arrived within days of each other. The land was shared between them.
The street grid of the new settlement was laid out in 1837, the same year the city got its name. Fawkner went on to own one of Melbourne’s first pubs, on the corner of Collins and Market Streets. It was a single-storey timber and brick building of six rooms, with a tariff of two guineas a week. The hotel advertised “mental recreation of a high order,” providing guests with 12 newspapers, seven magazines and a collection of fiction and poetry.
Many of the early hotels were of primitive construction, one even being constructed of sods. A 1929 article in The Argus by “Rambler” described some of Melbourne’s first pubs: