Adelaide has often been described as a city of churches. In reality, the city has always had just as many places to buy alcohol as places of worship. In the colonial period, hotels - often known as "pubs" after the British "public house" - dotted the city, often on prominent street corners.
In the Adelaide City square mile alone, there are more than 70 current or former hotel sites. Over the years, their names, owners and customers have changed many times, but our colonial historical hotel buildings remain an important part of the social fabric and architectural heritage of the city.
Particularly in the colonial period before 1901, Adelaide’s hotels were the focal point of business and social life. In the boom years from the 1860s to the 1880s, new hotel buildings sprang up all over the city. Among them were the gracious Botanic Hotel on the corner of North and East Terrace, and the imposing General Havelock on Hutt Street.
During that time, many of the existing pubs were torn down and replaced with larger, grander structures. Very few of the simple watering holes from the earliest days of the colony remain in their original form. The Beresford Arms is one exception.
One of the great legacies of the boom period is that many of the pubs built then can still be enjoyed today. Their distinctive design and decorative verandas and balconies have endured, and they still provide a welcoming stopover for thirsty city explorers.
Take this trail to discover the charms of Adelaide’s hotel buildings and pub culture for yourself. All but one of the hotels on this trail are still open for business, so there’s plenty to enjoy! The Beresford Arms ceased operating as a hotel in 1861 but is still interesting to visit to see the recent conservation work that has restored the building to its original 1840's appearance.