Control Data Australia Memories compiled by Brian Membrey

The Bush Inn

505 Malvern Road, Toorak

Location

North-eastern corner of Malvern and William Roads, Toorak

Memories

I seem to remember several lunches there in the large dining room that stretched along the Williams Road side.

Although I don't recall anything special in terms of the menu, it was reasonably popular because it had the major advantage of a car park behind the hotel, again accessible from Williams Road.

History

The Bush Inn appears to have been first licensed in March, 1854, the first publican Thomas Portlock Stone, the district then described as Prahran.  Unlike many new hotels which tended to changes hands fairly quickly, Stone remained at the hotel until at least 1861.

Much of the early history is somewhat clouded by the existence of another Bush Inn in Elizabeth Street which was one Melbourne's most popular hotels, but it is known that the Prahran location receive a boost in 1865 when the Prahran Council decided to install a water stand pipe outside the hotel (in the days long before an articulated water supply, a stand pipe allowed residents and travellers to pump water from the mains system).

Coincidentally for those who have been following our history of the totalizator in Victoria, the Bush Inn license in 1888 was transferred to Julius Franck, the son of one of the first and most prominent totalizator operators, Siegfried Franck.

The hotel a year or so later under his auspices became the headquarters for the Prahran Pony Racing Club which for several years ran meetings on a course known as Sherwood Park in what is now Warrigal Road in Burwood.

From what can be traced, the Bush Inn was never publicly advertised for sale and no description of the original building remains.

Many of the old hotels of the 1850s were rebuilt after new licensing laws in 1872 introduced dramatically higher building standards and our best guess is that the Bush Inn may well have been one of those affected.  It would also have probably been upgraded after the 1926 Licensing Reductions Board hearings in the Prahran Licensing District.

Today

The hotel appears to have been extended north along Williams Road over the old car park to allow for a gaming venue.  Like most of the hotels, it has had an external facelift and now features a speciality steak house (below). I couldn't see any car parking during a quick-as visit, suggesting it now relies on local trade.  

Officially it is in Toorak, but a banner stretching across Williams Road welcomes visitors to Hawksburn, the western sie of Williams Road.