Not long after pastoralists and their workers started to populate the Innamincka area in late 1882, a police outpost was set up on the banks of the Cooper Creek, followed closely by a general store. Soon after, in 1885, Howard Kearns of Farina lodged plans to build the Innamincka Hotel on the banks of the Cooper Creek. The hotel thrived as a refuge for drovers, pastoral workers and shearers who, believe it or not, used to ride their bicycles up and down the Strzelecki track looking for work.
The pub survived until 1952 when the entire town virtually closed when modern transportation methods meant the town was no longer a viable concern. Its assurance as a ghost town was confirmed in 1956 when a massive flood swept through the area virtually demolishing any remaining buildings.
The pub’s revival came in the 1970s with a surge in 4WD vehicles and people wanting to explore the outback. Santos also discovered oil and gas in the area which further boosted the town’s resurgence.
The new Cooper Creek Hotel-Motel opened in 1973 which and subsequently re-named to the Innamincka Hotel in 1983 after its licence was briefly suspended and a new licensee appointed.
Current owners Kym Fort and David Brook bought the hotel in 1999 and set about renovating and upgrading the infrastructure. New motel units were built in 2005 along with a substantial upgrade to the existing huts and budget bunkhouse accommodation.
The Front Bar remains largely untouched since taking over the hotel and is adorned with outback and historical memorabilia. The Outamincka bar/dining room was completed in 2008 and is now the centrepiece of the pub offering an outback dining experience like no other.
Further additions include a water filtration plant which sees every tap in the pub run with clean, clear potable water from the Cooper Creek. A considerable investment in solar power will see the hotel complex running on solar by mid 2017.
Although its history in entwined with Australia’s early pioneers, explorers and expeditions, today the Innamincka Hotel is regarded an iconic meeting place for travellers from around the globe, a hub for local tours and tourism, and an authentic outback pub experience.
The Innamincka Hotel is owned and operated by Kym and Jo Fort and David and Nell Brook who bought and began renovating the iconic pub in 1999.
No strangers to outback pubs, Kym and David’s partnership began with the Birdsville Hotel after it was put up for sale following a fire that devastated the pub in 1979.
Since then Kym, Jo, David and Nell have taken both the Innamincka and Birdsville Hotels and turned them into the iconic, award-winning outback Aussie pubs they are today.