The Young Australian Hotel before 1900  – by Betty Laver

Before 1900 three hotels had opened their doors as the greatly increased arrivals of passengers through the port of Gladstone placed a strain on existing hotel accommodation beyond their capacity. These hotels were the Young Australian(1897), Grand (1898) and the Royal (1898), all strategically placed to catch patrons travelling from the Gladstone rail head to Auckland Point wharf, the terminus of the ferry service to destined for northern ports. Rose McCray registered as licensee of the Young Australian Hotel, a single storey, shingle-roofed building in Auckland Street. William McCray, Rose’s husband could see the advantages of this position near the railway station. He built an impressive two storey building on the corner block beside the original hotel in 1900. William McCray was born in Gladstone in February 1856 while his father was working on Gladstone’s first dam. McCray became a saddler with premises in Goondoon Street and was very involved with the local community. He served as alderman for over eighteen years and this included being Mayor in 1899. After his death in 1905, Rose maintained the hotel with the able assistance of their four teenage daughters. In 1913 she moved on to run the boarding house and kitchen facilities for the expanding meatworks at Parsons Point. In 1913 John Stapleton established his 23-year-old son, Edmund, into the Young Australian Hotel. Edmund worked the hotel for about six years combining it with his interest in Woodstock, a property just outside Gladstone. Gideon Dennis came from being a publican at Boonah and he bought the Young Australian from John Stapleton in 1919. Gideon and Charlotte Dennis had a large family of six girls and five boys and soon settled into community life. Gideon Dennis served over twenty years on the Gladstone council including two terms as mayor. In 1946 Les Ambrose took over for a ten-year term. Later licensees included were Jim Maher, John Sattler (from Rugby League fame) and Jim Mahony. This hotel, although once again a single storey building, is still servicing Gladstone today.