Built on golden lure of a big thirst: the history of the Cargo Inn

A rule of thumb in Australian history is the discovery of gold generally leads to a thirst for alcohol.

And Cargo was no exception.

Soon after the Cargo goldfield was declared in 1869, miners thirsty for making their riches also had a thirst for spending them on drink.

At the height of Cargo's gold rush, which started 150 years ago, there were at least three hotels in the district.

But as the gold ran out and the miners left, the profits fell away and one by one the pubs closed or burnt down.

The Cargo Inn, which was called the Commercial when Tooth's brewery inspectors first began visiting in 1924, is the last survivor of the time.

Its remote location must have puzzled brewery executives in the 1920s as a brewery inspector drew a sketch map of its location in 1929, which is included in the official records.

It's the only known map of a pub in the Orange region to appear in the company records now held in the Australian National University/Noel Butlin Archive collection.

On an inspector's first visit in June 1924 a few details were recorded.

"Single-storey brick, about 14 rooms, trade comes mostly from passing traffic," he wrote.

Later, the nearest pub is listed as being 15 miles away in Canowindra.

The hotel changed its name to the Cargo Inn Hotel on September 6, 1973, two months after the brewery records show Kevin Thomas Marshall taking over as licensee.

They also show the first four licensees of the pub visited by the inspectors in the 1920s were also the owners.

That changed in 1927 when William Cliff became the licensee.

J.R. Ferris, of O'Sullivan Road, Rose Bay, became the owner and retained J.J. Flavin as licensee from 1929-1940.

After two years away Mr Flavin returned as licensee from 1942-1947.

Through the 1950s the attraction of running a country pub appealed, with four separate people taking on the Cargo pub as their first pub licence, but three of them lasted only a year or less.

In 2019, the pub is now up for sale, with the potential for the future new owners to further develop the site.