Dying for a change? This ghost town hotel is up for sale

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If you’ve ever contemplated an ambitious tree-change to Tasmania’s wild west coast, this might be your chance.

In the little-known ghost town of Linda, 10 minutes from the small mining town of Queenstown, you’ll find the blackened concrete ruins that were once the Royal Hotel, and it is on the market.

A source of fascination for Tasmanians for decades and steeped in a mysterious history, the property is for sale for just $149,000.

Real estate agent Wendy Van Balen said there had been “quite a bit” of interest so far, despite the remote location and lack of internal fittings in the property.

“Some Tasmanians but also some people from interstate, basically just people looking for peace and quiet,” she said.

Quietness is essentially guaranteed, with Linda having a population of fewer than 10 people.

Exterior of an old pub and buildings.Exterior of an old pub and buildings.
The ruins of the Royal Hotel, known as the Old Linda Pub, and more modern structures, are seen in a real estate listing.(Supplied: realestate.com.au)

Zoned residential, the 2,000 square metre-plus site once had a cafe, but that was closed five years ago and it has been dormant since.

Ms Van Balen said a buyer could do anything from running tours to renovating the site to be used as a home.

“It’s quite an imposing building, got quite a lot of history to it and it’s quite peaceful,” she said.

A ‘most conspicuous’ building

Despite it’s long history, there is not a lot of information formally recorded about the history of the Royal Hotel.

According to his obituary in the Zeehan and Dundas Herald in 1910, George Eaves built the hotel in 1901.

The Linda Valley was described in a local paper in 1900 as “a rapidly-grown township, which now contains 600 people”.

In the same piece, the Royal was considered as one of the town’s “most conspicuous” buildings, with “comfort and cleanliness pervading everywhere”.

It was famously destroyed by fire in 1910 under the ownership of Thomas Kelly, who then rebuilt it.

Undated historical photo of Linda Valley, township in south-west TasmaniaUndated historical photo of Linda Valley, township in south-west Tasmania
An undated photo of the township of Linda, in the Linda Valley in Tasmania’s west.(State Library of Tasmania)

Michael Holmes, historian and author of books about Tasmania’s ghost towns, said it was one of four hotels in the then-thriving township.

“They expanded rapidly, with grocery stores, butchers, bakeries, a railway station and school, football teams, a brass band …” he said.

Mr Holmes said despite the fact Linda was technically part of the nearby town of Gormanston, it had it’s own sense of identity.

He said the town owed much, if not all, of its existence to the discovery of gold at the North Lyell Mine.

The area was the subject of national news coverage in 1912, when 42 workers died in a fire in the mine.

Funeral for the 42 miners, Mt. Lyell 1912Funeral for the 42 miners, Mt. Lyell 1912
A funeral procession for 42 miners killed at Mt Lyell follows the rail line in 1912.(Eric Thomas Galley Museum)

Lively town turned ‘drab settlement’

The hotel’s heyday appears to have been relatively brief.

Newspaper records show the hotel was the backdrop to fights and violence throughout the 1920s and 30s, including the fatal stabbing of a young man in 1925.

There were also many breaches of licensing laws, with the publicans caught out serving liquor on a Sunday, which was illegal at the time.

Teamsters working on railway line between Mt Lyell and Strahan 1895.Teamsters working on railway line between Mt Lyell and Strahan 1895.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the west coast of Tasmania was a hub of mining activity.(Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office)

The township shrunk almost as quickly as it appeared as the mines ran out of gold and people left in droves.

“In this article, the Mercury in 1932 described the Linda Valley as ‘a drab settlement now almost deserted’, so it started to peter out before a lot of the other surrounding towns,” Mr Holmes said.

Prominent Australian historian and writer Geoffrey Blainey noted he had a meal at the hotel while writing his book The Peaks of Lyell in 1951, but he was the only one in the building at the time.

Hotel licensees had to reapply for their licenses annually, and the last recorded license application for the Royal Hotel was in 1952.

It was then abandoned, but exactly what happened afterward and how it fell into it’s current state of disrepair remains unknown.

For Ms Van Balen, the dilapidated site is an opportunity waiting to be realised.

“It’s just up the road from Lake Burbury, and on a clear day up here it’s just magical, who wouldn’t want that tranquillity?”