A landmark in the township for more than one hundred & fifty years, the building now known as the Great Southern Inn started its life as a store, before being converted to a hotel.
Originally constructed as a store using locally made bricks from the Adelaide brick works for local businessman & whaling operator George Barclay in or around 1857, the two storey structure opened its doors as Barclay & Teas’ Twofold Bay Stores.
Although it is unknown exactly when Barclay commenced his general store business, it was certainly by 1849, when the Eden Bench of Magistrates granted him a spirit merchant’s license for his seven roomed slab built shingle roofed cottage in Chandos Street. This remained active until his death in 1864, but from 1860, the premises were described as “a brick building in Imlay & Chandos Streets”, obviously the building now known as the Great Southern.
After Barclay’s death, the business was carried on first by his estate & then later by his widow Isabella, & in 1871, a correspondent wrote “Passing along Imlay Street…the traveller first reaches an immense building in brick, known as the Twofold Bay Stores. These stores are the property of, & carried on by, Mrs. Isabella Barclay…” Although it is uncertain exactly when Isabella closed the business, in 1879 her husband’s estate was sequestered, & during 1880 insolvency hearings were held.
It was around this time that the building became a hotel. In May 1880, the Bombala Herald announced that “Mr. John Hopkins has leased the large premises formerly the property of Mrs. Barclay, & intends to open the same shortly as a first class hotel.”
With few public meeting places available in the township, hotels & inns were often the venue of choice for everything from political gatherings to sports entertainments, & the Great Southern was no different.