Waddell Two Mile Hotel story in Sundowner 1978

One of the key family photos is of the Two Mile Hotel, owned by George Waddell (b1862) around the turn of the century. On a recent visit home, my Dad gave me a copy of the “Sundowner” from November 1978, which featured a story about the Two Mile Hotel and a terrific interview with Jim Waddell (George’s son, b1904, and my great uncle)!

The Sundowner itself is a classic – it cost 20 cents in 1978 and its full of vintage advertising and fashion from the late 70s. I couldn’t resist scanning the front cover…

Front cover of the Sundowner magazine, November 1978

Inside there is a two page article on the Two Mile pub with some great stories of serving beers on Sundays while son Jim played “cockatoo” in case the police came, pidgeon shooting and the ideal position of the pub. Ruth Parker’s book tells a similar story [2]. The article also includes the original deed for the pub, which was bought later on by George Waddell.

Importantly, Jim also identifies the people in the “Two mile Hotel” photo – George Waddell (far left), young Jim Waddell and three of his sisters. “Three of his sisters” doesnt narrow it down much! Two of sisters in the picture are clearly older than Jim and could be Mag, Edith, Ida, or Dorrie – Edith apparently used to help out in the bar [2] so it could be Edith? The much younger sister seems quite a bit younger than Jim Waddell, and could be Jess or Jean (as Amy was only 2 years younger than Jim but the sister being carried is much younger than Jim). Second from left is Rodney Paddy (no relation).

Feb 2020 update: Kerry Cassidy emailed to say that its his grandmother Edith Waddell out the front, holding her littlest sister Jean in her arms. He has a copy of the same photo and his Mum Win Cassidy has written Edith with Jean on it. Only one more sister to identify!

Thirsty Days at the Old Two Mile Pub, Sundowner 1978 page 11 by Greg Brennan. The “new” Two Mile Hotel was built about 1909. The group above includes George Waddell (far left), young Jim Waddell, Edith Waddell holding Jean Waddell, and a 3rd Waddell sister.
Thirsty Days at the Old Two Mile Pub, Sundowner 1978 page 13 by Greg Brennan

To make it easier to read the article (and for search engines to find the text), I have transcribed the Sundowner article text below:

George Waddell’s Two Mile Hotel had a great Sunday trade in the days when it was illegal for pubs to open at all on Sunday. Jim Waddell remembers being “cockatoo” for those Sunday sessions of long ago, when visitors drove their buggies just far enough out of town to work up a respectable thirst. Jim was born at his father’s pub and lived there until he was 11.

As a sharp-eyed youngster, Jim could see a policeman approaching on horseback 10 minutes or so before he reached the hotel. By the time the limb of the law arrived, all the drinkers would have decamped, the pub would be closed up and Waddell Senior be sitting on his verandah having a quiet smoke -the very model of a law-abiding and Sabbath-keeping publican.

Of course the law knew what really went on but Jim Waddell reckons the police weren’t really concerned -it was largely a matter of putting in an appearance occasionally to fulfill official requirements.

“There was a terrific bar trade but more beer was sold on a Sunday than during the rest of the week ” says Jim, now a retired dairy farmer, living at Thomas Street, Gympie.

Despite these Sunday shenanigans, he remembers his fathers clientele as quiet and well behaved, not given to fighting or hooliganism.

In fact, some of Gvmpie’s most respected citizens -doctors, lawyers and so forth -were among the mob that gathered at the Two Mile for pigeon shoots. They used live pigeons as targets, not clay ones, and as Jim remembers, everybody but the pigeons had a good time.

Hundreds of these pigeons were kept in a special enclosure at the pub stables until shoot days. The system was to release each pigeon from a cage about 30 yards from the marksmen. “They never got very far,” says Jim.

These shooting contests actually took place at Rodney’s Paddock, just across the road from the hotel. “Before my time they had ploughing matches there, but I only heard about those.”

Occasionally, the marksmen would fire from the pub verandah across the road at targets set up in the paddock. This pastime wasn’t as dangerous as it sounds, according to Jim. “There were no motor vehicles then, and you would see the horse and bug­gy coming in plenty of time to stop.”

Devotees of other, more peaceful pursuits also gathered at the Two Mile. The hotel yard extended over several acres, and included, a cricket pitch which was “home ground” for two teams -first Northern Suburbs, and later Carringtons.

George Waddell was “dead against” card-playing on the premises, as he thought this led to trouble, but patrons were free to engage in a game of steel quoits.

Jim Waddell is not sure when the original Two Mile Hotel was built, but he believes that his father bought it about 1898. Some time in the 1900s his father pulled it down and rebuilt on the same site.

“It was getting pretty dilapidated. Be­sides that, it was the last one on the way out to Kilkivan, Widgee, Woolooga, and the first one on the way in -as I say, it had a terrific bar trade -and I think he had to build extra bedrooms just to keep his licence.”

Jim recalls old James Nash, who used to live nearby, alongside the school, as a kindly old chap. His son Alan taught me. Colin Nash, Alans son, was my age and I used to go to his place to play, and he would come to my place.

The Waddell family had strong ties with gold-mining. Jims Grandfather, a native of County Armagh in Ireland, was a killed at the Two Miles Sedoa* mine when a bucket of mulloch fell onto his head. George Waddell was involved in mining at Gympie and Charters Towers before buying his hotel. Jim Waddell believes that his uncle Malcolm was the manager of the last Gympie gold mine to close down.

“I’ve seen quite a bit of gold at that pub at different times,” says Jim. “The Hiberian and the Homeward Bound were the last two important mines at Two Mile. When these mines closed down they all had their engine sheds, and each one put in a pensioner as a caretaker. One old pensioner, Joe Menadue, caretaker was prospecting one day and he got the reef cap – and he got quite a sizable lump of gold out of that. I can remember the excitement there was about that.”

About 1915, the Waddell family moved over to Kin Kin, where George Waddell took over the store. The hotel was leased to a man named Logan. After a couple of years it was sold, and finally burned down sometime in the 1920s, as Jim remembers it.

The hotel was situated on the front portion of the land now occuppied by Arthur Doust’s premises. About four years ago, excavation work turned up about a dozen old willow pattern plates. “They were all broken, there was nothing you could save” says Mr Doust. Every now and then we dig a hole somewhere and come up with old sauce and wine bottles.”

Other finds at the site include a path made of hand-pressed clay bricks, and some blacksmith’s tools – a shoeing hammer and a cross-payne hammer. Apart from occasional discoveries like these, these days the only tangible reminders of bygone days in this area are a couple of road signs.

Just past the Gympie City-Widgee Shire boundary marker, one signpost points left to Rodney Road. A little further north, another signpost points right to “Wadell Road” (sic) running between Doust’s premises and the Hilltop Hotel.

Thirsty Days at the Old Two Mile Pub, Sundowner 1978 page 11 & 13 by Greg Brennan

This is a ripper of an article, full of information first hand from Jim Waddell about his fathers pub and the daily life in Two Mile around 1900-1915. It also confirms the sad story of how Thomas Waddell died in 1878 (more in a future blog post). A definite identification of at least 2 Waddell family members in the famous photo is a bonus, as well as confirming that the 3 women standing in the front are also three of the Waddell sisters. If only Jim had named them all!

* the name of the mine is mis remembered by Jim Waddell here. It wasn’t the Sedoa mine, it was the Bristol mine, confirmed by the inquest papers (see later post).


[1] “Thirsty Days at the Old Two Mile Pub” by Greg Brennan, in The Sundowner, November 1978, pages 11 & 13. Also available at National Library Australia: https://trove.nla.gov.au/work/19159096?q&versionId=22508762

[2]  “A Shepherd’s pride : a story of Edwards, Parker, Abbott and Dick families and their descendants “​ by Ruth Parker, self published, 2004. Copies at libraries – see https://trove.nla.gov.au/version/41962596 or from Ruth Parker directly (email me for information on how to contact her). Contains several pages on Edith Waddell’s family with photos.


  1. […] In 1878, When George was ~16 years old, tragedy befell the Waddell family. George was working with his father Thomas Waddell at a gold mine. His father was down the mineshaft and George was at the top of the shaft working as the “braceman”. A braceman monitors the shaft cage and what is coming up and down – people and ore. George was hooking a bucket onto the hook to lower it into the shaft, but the hook was defective in someway, and the bucket fell down the shaft and killed his father Thomas, apparently instantly [5]. The accident occurred at Two Mile, near Kin Kin. The newspaper reports the mine name as the Briston mine [5], but an interview with George’s son Jim gave the mine same as “Sedoa” mine (see previous blog post). […]


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