A hotel full of charm and character, Rudd’s Pub at Nobby on the Darling Downs has a truly unique story. Even though situated a distant, in those days, 160 kilometres from Brisbane, it was among the first hotels to be built in the fledgling nation.
Rudd’s Pub came into being in 1893, only two years after the Australia Hotel had been opened in Sydney. The first building in Nobby, the hotel was constructed by Michael Comerford and was initially named the Davenporter in honour of pastoralist and politician George Davenport, who had been instrumental in founding the town. In the 1980s, the hotel name was altered to Rudd’s Pub in memory of the brilliantly creative local author Steele Rudd.
Arthur Hoey Davis, who adopted the pseudonym of Steele Rudd when his writings and sketches began being published in the late 19th Century, settled on a 160 acre property named The First, just outside the township of Nobby, in 1909. He had been born in another Darling Downs town, Drayton, in November 1868, the eighth child in a family of 13 children. After working in odd jobs, as a stockrider, a clerk and having a stint in the sheriff’s office in the state capital, Steele Rudd bought the property at Nobby. By then the earliest of his famed On Our Selection series was in print. In the eight years he lived in the district, Rudd became an active and prominent citizen in the town. His contributions to the community included being Chairman of the Nobby School, Secretary of the Nobby Farmers Union and Chairman of the neighbouring shire of Cambooya. He also frequented the hotel that now honours his name. Folklore suggests that Rudd, who wrote four books while at The First, penned some of his stories sitting by the fireplace in the Heritage Room at the Davenporter. Rudd’s writings, which were largely drawn from his own experiences, evolved into the immensely popular radio series, Dad and Dave, which ran on the ABC for many years from 1932.
As the legend around Steele Rudd, who died in Brisbane in 1935, developed, artefacts began being donated to the hotel in his remembrance. These include one of the first editions of 3000 copies of On Our Selection, which was published in 1899 as well as his original title to The First. Over the years, the collection has grown to the stage where the memorabilia now covers the walls and ceiling, where a replica of the pub, bikes and golf clubs are hanging. There is a photo gallery as well as hundreds of items including farm implements, tobacco cans, a ration book from 1893, old bottles, a radio from the 1950s, kitchen utensils and books. Gayle Jones and her husband Evan took over the business in May last year. “People still send paintings and other things for the collection and there is always something happening. Recently we had Steve Waugh and 93 people on the Captain’s Ride in for lunch and we are always busy.”
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