History of the Apollonian Hotel

Gold was discovered in Gympie by James Nash in 1867. Within ten months a well known English comedian and vocalist named Robert (Billy) Barlow had built, ‘Barlow’s Apollonian Philharmonic Music Hall Hotel’ established on 18th September, 1868 and situated at 43 Apollonian Vale, Gympie.

The word ‘apollonian’ comes from the ancient Greek sun god, Apollo, god of theatre and music. It was subsequently renamed, ‘Barlow’s Apollonian Hotel and Music Hall,’ ‘Taylor’s Apollonian Music Hall Hotel’ and finally just ‘Apollonian Hotel.’

In 1869 the music hall was enlarged. It was stated that the music hall could now hold 300. A copy of the advertisement appearing in the Gympie times on December 15, 1869 states:

‘W Taylor begs to announce that he will give Another Grand Ball At his Hall, on Friday, December 31. W Taylor trusts that the arrangements he has made for this occasion will cause general satisfaction, and hopes the success hitherto attained will prove a guarantee for the present ball. To ensure respectabiliity, Gentlemen must purchase their tickets from, and Ladies will be invited by, the Proprietor only.’

(The rather eccentric capitalisations are Mr Taylor’s.)

Taylor staged frequent wrestling performances, ‘Cornish’ and ‘Deveno’ styles being advertised. Billiards competitions and championships were held weekly, and a ‘Free & Easy’ was held every Saturday night. This must have been a sort of amateur ‘variety’ get-together in which anyone could sing a song, tell a yarn or do some comical or physical feat, whilst everyone drank the good publican’s ale and porter.

In 1878 livestock salesyards known as the ‘Central Market Yards’ were constructed at the rear of the hotel. Hence every Saturday became a very lively occasion with livestock sales being conducted.

Early in 1879, due either to fire or the dilapidation of the earlier building, the present Apollonian Hotel was built. The building was built of hoop pine, with all the doors and windows being cedar. The standard ceiling height throughout is 13 feet.

In 1890 the hotel was leased to Richard Henry Cox, father of the very gifted soprano singer, Mabel Cox. The lease was held by the Cox family for 31 years before Percy, Richard’s son, was able to buy the freehold. Richard later became Mayor of Gympie in or about 1910.

It is most pertinent that this unusual old pub remained so faithfully entire and intact, and in basically sound condition. As a Hotel Music Hall of the goldfields era it survives as a precious fragile link with our history.