While our history with The Old Bush Inn may be short, the history of the pub in Willunga is long and well known. We've taken a keen interest in the history of the hotel, and hope to learn more as we work to retain it's heritage and charm. In addition to many of the great stories shared by local patrons, the National Trust has provided this history of The Old Bush Inn.
This is the third hotel in Willunga to be called the Bush Inn. The first was on the south-eastern corner of St. James Street and Atkinson Drive.
The second Bush Inn was a distinctive two storey inn, built in 1870 from locally-made Atkinson’s bricks. It was at the rear of the present building, but overlooked St James Street. The first licensee was Mary Ann Atkinson. The dining room, known as the Long Room, measured 50 feet by 18 feet and was often used for dinners, public meetings, Court hearings and meetings of the District Council. At least one inquest was held here, in 1853, before the Court House was built. The local Hunt Club set out from here for ‘the days hunt through the ranges after Kangaroos, Wild Dogs and Cattle’. In 1882 a servant had a lucky escape when she slipped into the well while drawing water, remaining trapped for an hour or more until rescued. This Inn was demolished to make way for the current building. Some of its red brick foundations survived at the rear of the present hotel until recently, when subdivision occurred.
The third single storey Bush Inn was opened in Federation year (1901) with a frontage to High Street. Its first licensee was Catherine Broderick. The Inn was advertised as a pleasant holiday destination for coach travellers, offering good accommodation and moderate terms. Willunga sheep, cattle and horse markets were held in the Inn's large yards.