Barry Stone's fascinating insight into Australia's most noteworthy hotels takes us inside the buildings which have hosted and witnessed the development of our Great Southern Land.
On Christmas Eve in 1882 an impromptu game of cricket was organised between the touring English Cricket team and a local side in the grounds of Rupertswood, a 50-room Italianate mansion in Sunbury, 30 minutes drive north of Melbourne. At dinner that night Rupertswood's owner, Lady Janet Clark, marked the visitor's victory by presenting the English captain, Ivo Bligh, with a tiny urn that contained the charred remains of a set of bails. Thus the legend of the Ashes, Australia's sporting Holy Grail, was born.
In Great Australian Historic Hotels each hotel provides its own tantalising insight into the development of our nation as seen from its windows, porches and balconies. From the tragic immigration tales of Q Station to the mining of oil shale by the Glen Davis Hotel in NSW's Capertee Valley; from the political skulduggery at the Hyatt Hotel Canberra to the viticulture of Padthaway Homestead; from the expansion of the Swan River Colony near Faversham House to the Victorian Gold Rush alongside Freeman on Ford. These hotels have seen it all, and they have rather a lot to say in the most salubrious of settings.
We journey to every state in the nation, sometimes to the hotels we all know or think we know - like the Windsor in Melbourne - but most often to places we've never heard of. Places like North Bundaleer and Foxhunters Return, Poltalloch Station and Schouten House, hotels selected not for their glitz factor or their star ratings necessarily, but for their ability to tell a story. Their story and ours, too.
Barry Stone began his writing career as a freelance travel writer in 1997 and has since written for some of Australasia's leading travel magazines including Holidays For Couples, Australian Traveller, Destinasian, Destinations and various in-flight publications. His articles have often focused on historic hotels both in Australia and overseas.
In recent times, however, travel writing has taken second place to his new life as an author. In 2009 he wrote his first of two 90,000-word history titles for Murdoch Books, both due for international release in mid-2010, and has since been given a third title by a grateful commissioning editor.