Barkly arrived at the port in H.M Sloop Victoria and was rowed ashore in Captain John Mills’ Harbourmaster’s boat. He was taken to the hotel in procession lead by an impromptu band of three musicians – McBride the undertaker, a large man, playing a fife; Aldridge, a clerk, lean, gaunt and knock-kneed, beating on an improvised drum, and Hillyar, a Cornish stonemason, stout, short and stuffy, playing a flute.
The weather was wet and boisterous but that did not hold up the presentation at the hotel of a loyal address, the holding of a levee, lavish banquet, and “a good time being indulged in” by all and sundry. The good time continued for two days after his Excellency left the town.
It was from the star that Cobb & Co’s coaches started when they first began serving Belfast in 1859.The balcony, in the old days the scene of startling gymnastic feats by squatters in town, was originally not supported by posts and the outside bluestone walls were not coated with cement until 1876. The Star used to stock a very efficient branch of champagne, which the local councillors were accustomed to pour liberally into visiting ministers of State and heads of departments when they wanted something done for Belfast.
The Star has seen its fair share of colourful characters over the years, both owners and patrons. Ronnie Wearmounth, the Collingwood champion rover, was licensee for a period in the eighties. It has been the hang out of fishermen, SEC & rail workers, soldiers even the odd pirate or two, a smuggler here and there, not to mention the “hidden Passage” between the Star and the Wharf. Ah – not much has changed over the years.
The Port Fairy Hotel Today
In 2006, Star of the West Hotel celebrated its 150th birthday. Your hosts, Damian & Sue Gleeson, have operated the Star since July 2003. Having been in Geelong before that they are really enjoying their time at home.
The Port Fairy Hotel comprises of a main bar – TAB area, The JW Taylor Room, Dining Room, Outside Courtyard (licensed for 300) and accommodation upstairs. It has the only TAB Gaming facility in the town of Port Fairy. The nearest TAB Gaming is in Koroit.