2013 Copyright Ruzsicska
In 1875, William Kenavan (also Kenavon) applied for the lease of
"Maroo", an unwatered holding located between Eromanga and
Windorah, about 12kms down Kyabra Creek towards the property
"Springfield". The application was approved in February of 1978
and William and Jemima moved from Wilcannia soonafter.
William died in February 1880 and not long after his death,
Jemima made the decision to set up a hotel on the station; on 9th
and 16th June, and 7th July 1880, she ran an advertisement in the
Western Champion with notification of her intention to apply for a
licence for the Maroo Hotel. According to the Publican's licensing
Act, PERSONS applying for PUBLICANS' LICENCES or transfers of the
name, in the districts of Tambo, Blackall, Isisford, Aramac,
Muttaburra, Winton, or from any place in Western District, are
reminded that their APPLICATIONS ARE ILLEGAL unless previously
advertised three times in the TWO NEAREST local papers - the
Aramac Mail and Western Champion. The charge for three insertions
is £1 5s., which must be PAID IN ADVANCE. Orders unaccompanied
by remittance will not receive attention. (The Western Champion, 9
Please don't ask me where "Maroo" is, for I have not the faintest
idea. Somewhere between the Never Never and Haddon Corner. Ths
match was played on Monday the 7th instant, and it was simply
wonderful where all the spectators came from - some riding and
some on horse back until I am sure there mast have been a hundred.
I tried to count several times but there were so many pretty girls that I
always lost the count when I came to one of them, kind of lost my
head. .. We then adjourned for lunch where everyone scored a
century, for hostess McGeorge had an excellent repast spread out. ...
In the evening we had dancing and singling galore, everyone
enjoying themselves immensely.
The match also rated a mention in the Western Champion (21
October 1901) and the Charleville Times (26 October 1901) and
goes on to describe day two of the 'sporting carnival':
Athletic sports were held the following day (8th inst.), when £15
(raised in a few hours), was distributed in prizes. Both days were very
enjoyable, although the heat was intense, expecially on the claypan.
there was no lack of amusement in the evenings - music, singing,
and dancing occupying the time until a late hour. Mrs W. Kenavan,
the Misses Dewhurst, Tully and other ladies, also Messrs. Yates, H.
Birt, Pegler, Kidman and others contributed several songs, msucial
and otherwise. Miss Tully and Messrs. D.J. Coghlan, S. Kidman, and
McRae supplied dance music. The Windorah Brass Band was also in
attendance, and enlivened proceedings considerably. I am of opinion
the Maroo hostess has not seen such a gathering for many years.
The singing of "Auld Lang Syne" at a late hour on Tuesday evening
brought a very pleasant outing to a close, and the Jundah visitors
bade Maroo adieu early the following morning. It is hoped the return
match will take place at Windorah within the next few months.
Jundah, 14th October, 1901.
Jemima died on 16 March 1903 in Bourke, New South Wales. The
hotel continued under the management of Annnie McGeorge,
assisted by her children. On 30 April 1904, the Windorah
correspondent for The Charleville Times describes "Festivities at
It seems like a return to the good old times, when drought was not,
to hear of picnics and other gaieties in the bush. The splendid
conditions of the district, and the encouraging prospects induced
Mesdames Hammond (Tenham Station), Campbell (Maroo Station),
and McGeorge (Maroo Hotel) to issue invitations for a picnic and
dance at Maroo during the Easter holidays. Invitations were issued
most liberally, and the attendance showed that few were
unaccepted, as there were considerably more than fifty ladies and
gentlemen present. Mrs M. Hammond extended hospitality to those
who came a long distance at Tenham, on the night preceding the
picnic. Amongst those at the picnic were Mesdames Hammond,
Campbell, Scanlan, G. Jackson and Kenavon, Misses L. Hammond, M.
Hammond, H. Hammond, (Hammond Downs), H. Birt (Kerongooloo),
K. Scanlan, S. Scanlan, M. Scanlan, B. McGeorge, E. McGeorge, E.
McGeorge, Elsie McGeorge, A. Geiger, Messrs. A Campbell, H.
Hammond, G.H. Oliffe, H. Birt, T. Birt, W. Kenavon, D. Coghlan, T.
Hackett, T. Scanlan, P. Scanlan, E. Scanlan, G. Jackson, J. Cavanagh,
D. Johnson, Sergeant Scanlan, J. Moloney, and several others.
The picnic was held about five miles from Maroo on Kyabra Creek.
After luncheon a cricket match was arranged, Mr Oliffe captaining
one side, and Sergeant Scanlan the other. Mr Oliff's side won, the
captain himself making the top score (18). In the meantime
Mesdames Hammond and Campbell arranged games for the ladies,
which, judging by the laughter the cricketers heard, were very much
About 5 o'clock a start was made for the Maroo Hotel, where Mrs
McGeorge had her coffee room ready for a very enjoyable dance,
which was kept up until 3 a.m. In the intervals of the dances, songs
were given by Mrs Hammond, Mrs Kenavon, Miss Hammond, Miss
Mollie Hammond, Messrs. McMaster, Kenavon, Hackett and Scanlan.
Mr D. Johnson acted as M.C. and Mr J. Moloney was indefatigable in
providing the music.
On the next, or rather that day, there was a general vote against
leaving, so Mr Oliffe got up sports (sic) in the morning for all comers,
and in the afternoon there was another cricket match. In the evening
Mrs Campbell gave an "at home" at her house on the station, and
the capacity of the rooms were taxed considerably. The Tuesday a
start was made for Tenham where Mrs Hammond again extended
hospitality to all and dancing, singing, and boating by the
moonlight was the order of the night. On the following day a final
departure was made, everyone being delighted with the holiday.
Mrs George Oliffe (Hammond Downe Station) intends giving a picnic
about the end of July, and already it is being looked forward to. Eu
passant it may be remarked that such gatherings serve many useful
purposes, no the less, being the meeting again of old friends whom
the drought had parted for years.
In 1906, it was reported that the hotel was washed away along
with buildings at nearby Tenham station. (Australian Town and
Country Journal, 28 Mar 1906) However a month later, an article
appeared stating that the rumour was unfounded, though the
water reached the hotel; and walls of the nearby Springfield
station homestead collapsed. (The Queenslander, 21 April 1906) A
fortnight later the Western Champion reported that the water went
through Maroo Hotel and station. It is said to have made a wreck of
the hotel, destroying the piano, &c. and also drowing goats and
fowls. Mrs McGeorge will be a great loser. (6 May 1906)
In 1909, the Windorah Licensing Court granted a Mr A McGeorge's
applicaton for a Licence for the Maroo Hotel (either Annie's son,
Archie but more than likely Annie herself) (The Western Champion,
24 Apr 1909).
The hotel continued to operate until it burned down on Christmas
Eve in 1915.
Also see Pioneers Geake.
Maroo Births, Deaths & Marriages
In 1985 Jim Cardew documented his impressions of the Maroo
"The site is on Springifeld station about 14 kms from Springfield
homestead. The hotel site is on the bank of Kyabra Creek which
must have silted up, as the water hole is very small. Thereare
plenty of ashes and bottles on the site, but dug over by bottle
collectors no doubt. Bottles laying out garden beds are still in
place. About two hundred metres away are house stumps, more
than likely from the homestead. Part of the homestead was pise,
as I understand, but that has all now disappeared. Some molten
glass and buckled iron beds are at the site of the hotel. Some old
sheep and cattle yards remain. there is also the remains of a
grave. Someone went to a lot of trouble to shape the posts, and the
grave once had a six strand wire fence around it. My guess is that
it is the grave of Dugald McGeorge. Sad to say there is no
headstone on that grave nor on the grave of Thomas McGeorge. I
also understand that there is another grave in the same area, that
of a governess from one of the stations nearby but nobody I met
can recall her name."
Her application was unsuccessful and she ran a similar
advertisement on 15th and 22nd September, and 6th October,
1880 notifying of her intention to apply again on 12th October,
this time stating I am a widow with two children, and have held a
license before, dated 31st August (The Western Champion). (The
two children mentioned were her fifteen year old daughter from
her first marriage to Thomas McGeorge and her ten year old son
from her marriage to Kenavan; she had five adult children).
Jemima's eldest son, Tom McGeorge moved to Maroo in September
1880 (from Wilcannia with his wife Annie and baby daughter) to
help his mother with the newly licensed 'hotel'.
In 1884, the Windorah correspondant for the Western Champion
(7 November) wrote:
A few slight thunder showers have visited the district. the places most
favored have been Tehnham, Maroo, and Retreat stations.
Talking of Maroo reminds me that there were high jinks there on
13th inst. This day has the honor of being the day selected by Miss
McGeorge and Mr McGeorge for their advent into this "wale of tears"
[sic] and so they decided to celebrate the anniversary of that event
by giving a picnic to a few friends at Maroo. The weather of the day
in question was of the pleasantest and the guests had a real good
time of it. Croquet and other out door games during the day, music,
dancing, and fun during the night. On the following day the guests
dispersed feeling very thankful to Mr and Miss McGeorge for having
provided them with the means of spending a very pleasant day, and
these are none too frequent with us dwellers in the back blocks.
1885 and Jemima Kenavan was granted a renewal of the licence
for Maroo Hotel (The Western Champion, 14 May, Brisbane
Courier, 13 May 1885).
In 1888, Jemima's younger son, Robert also moved to Maroo (from
Wilcannia) and assumed management of the station.
In 1891, Tom McGeorge was refused a license for the hotel in 1891
- although the reason for the refusal was not published, it was
more than likely his failure to advertise his intentions (The
Brisbane Courier, 4 June 1891). However, he continued to manage
the hotel until his death in 1893 and he was buried on the
property. His wife Annie stayed on with their young children and
became the licencee (The Western Champion, 9 May 1893/29 May
Annie McGeorge (nee Myers)
Arthur Campbell (Tom and Annie's son-in-law) purchased Maroo
station from Jemima in 1899.
An article in the Charleville Times (19 October 1901) by Ivan
Skivah recounts the story of a cricket match between Stations and
Windorah at Maroo.
A cricket match had been arranged between an eleven from Bulgroo,
Thulungra and Ray stations against a team representing the
Windorah cricket club, the match to be played at the "Maroo" hotel.