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Royal Mail Hotel, Booroorban


Step back in time to experience some pioneering hospitality.

“The Royal Mail Hotel at Borroorban is a historic place, much more historic than most places. It has never changed, only decayed, and it shouldn’t be allowed to decay if we have any pride in our past.” - Peter Snodgrass, ‘Booroorban’s Hotel and Some Links With a Distant Past’, The Land, Friday, 28 May, 1954, page 4.

The Old Man Plain stretches from Hay to Wanganella, and Booroorban sits right in the middle of it. Booroorban is a funny sort of town – primarily because its main street has just a single building. This building, the Royal Mail Hotel, has a bright orange roof and is ringed by tall peppercorn trees. The thick trunks and bright green foliage of these trees stand in stark contrast to the squat silvery saltbush covering the dusty ground for miles around in every direction.

This hotel has been an oasis for weary travellers since 1868, and you would be amiss to drive past its doors today without stopping by to quench your thirst and say hello to the current publicans, Mandy and Roger Trist.

Mandy and Roger definitely won’t ride a bicycle to Black Swamp to take your orders before your arrival as the original owner, Samuel Porter, used to do for passengers on the Cobb & Co coaches, but you can always call ahead to make sure they are able to help you out with a hot meal or comfortable bed.

The Royal Mail Hotel bar

Sam Porter built the hotel here because he was able to sink a well that would prove a reliable water source for almost 150 years – a look down into its depths reveals that water sits in there still. The well is not the only thing Sam left behind in Booroorban – his descendants still live in the town, though these days they make their living on Ramsey, a nearby sheep property.

The Royal Mail Hotel was sensitively refurbished in the 1980s and 1990s, halting the decay mentioned in the above quote by Snodgrass. The stables that used to house the company’s horses are still standing in a lopsided kind of way at the rear of the hotel. Unfortunately the destructive passage of time doesn’t seem to have been halted as effectively in these raw timber beams open to the elements. Visitors would be wise to go and see the collection of cracking leather horse tack and dusty cobblesone brick floor for themselves before a whirlywind lifts the whole lot away.

In front of the hotel is a massive fenced playground for kids to blow off some steam, while a picnic area beside the well offers shade and tables, as well as a barbecue. There is a caravan park and campground out the back for RV travellers.

One final note of warning: watch out for the Headless Horseman. Said to be the ghost of a 19th century drover who died at the Black Swamp, you’ll see his likeness hanging above the pool table, and the Royal Mail’s bar is named in his honour. But you never know – he might turn up once more to haunt unwary travellers on a starry outback night.

The Royal Mail Hotel is located on the Cobb Hwy, Booroorban, NSW.

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