Lonely Planet 1912 style
In our current age of technology we are accustomed to going online to research and book our holidays. It wasn't so long ago we did our travel planning the old fashioned way by trawling through books, magazines and brochures. For the intrepid traveller back in 1912, one such useful publication was the Hotel and Boarding House Directory of Principal Cities, Towns and Tourist Resorts in Queensland. Compiled and issued by the Queensland Government Intelligence and Tourist Bureau, the directory is crammed with information about hotels and boarding houses throughout Queensland. The directory is arranged by town, then name of the establishment; it gives details about the proprietor as well as the cost of accommodation per day and per week.
If you wanted to travel to the small central Queensland town of Sapphire (population 180 in 1911), the 1912 Hotel and Boarding House Directory tells you there is only one place to stay in town - The Sapphire Hotel. Getting to Sapphiretown in the first place was no easy feat as the booklet describes - "One hundred and ninety-two miles (309 kms) by rail to Anakie from Rockhampton, thence 8 miles (13 kms) by coach". The directory goes on to say Sapphire has "the only sapphire mines in Australia" and the climate is "salubrious".
In 1912 Longreach (population 2,322) had a variety of hotels for tourists to choose from. The biggest and most expensive in 1912 was the Imperial Hotel, which could accommodate 150 souls, at a daily rate of between 8 shillings and 10 shillings 6 pence per day (between $43 and $57 today). A full page advertisement for the Imperial Hotel is also featured in the directory.
The advertisement boasts that the building itself "covers more ground than any similar structure in Australia", with a "continuous balcony 12ft wide and a quarter of mile in length". Other features include hot and cold water, a large coffee room which seats 250 people and electric lights and fans.
For those on a modest budget, The Saint's Rest Boarding House on Ibis Street, Longreach was a cheaper alternative at 4 shillings per day. A half page advertisement in the directory lists the Saint's Rest as "splendid accommodation, good table". Sadly a disaster befell proprietress Mrs Campbell and her boarding house on 12 December 1912. A fire, which began in a spare room, quickly spread throughout the building and despite the valiant efforts of a bucket brigade the boarding house was half gutted.
Most of the higher end hotels were located in Brisbane. The Gresham Hotel on the corner of Creek and Adelaide Streets had rooms for as much as 15 shillings per day ($81 today). The most expensive hotel in the 1912 directory was the Charleville Hotel in Charleville, with rates as high as 20 shillings per day ($109 today).
State Library of Queensland have digitised the 1912; 1921 and 1929-30 editions of the Hotel and boarding house directory of the principal cities, towns and tourist resorts in Queensland and can be easily perused online.
Myles Sinnamon - Project Coordinator, State Library of Queensland