The History of Kangaroo Inn
Kangaroo Inn was built in the 1840's using stone quarried with pick and shovel from the stony ridges on the site of the buildings. Once hewn into bricks with stone chippers, the stone was mortared together with a mixture of lime and sand.
The ceiling consisted of lathe and plaster; the roof slats and iron.
The bar door (made of thick wood) was suspended on hinges at the top, so it could be quickly lowered to protect the men inside in the event of trouble outside. These old buildings (built entirely by local labour and none of our present-day machinery) were very strong and have withstood the test of time.
The history of the Inn is as varied as it is long. Originally it was a junction station built prior to the Victorian Gold Rush, and used as a resting place for mail coach drivers and the general public travelling between Adelaide, Penola and Mt Gambier. Settlers from Guichen Bay and coaches (run by Cobb & Co.) would stop at Kangaroo Inn to refresh and rest both horses and people. Then it was a 30 mile journey (about 1 day) before the next inn was reached. If going to Penola, this was Payne’s Inn; Mount Gambier — the Mt Burr Hotel; or Adelaide — the Telegraph Inn. Few Chinese en route for the Victorian Goldfields ever stopped at these stations as they were illegal immigrants, and frightened of being apprehended by government officials. Rather, they would build wells well off the worn route. Some of these are still landmarks in the district today
Although unlicensed, Kangaroo Inn had a popular liquor trade — bringing the district its share of troubles. Once, whilst the Reedy Creek Drain was being excavated by hand, a murder was committed. After a drunken brawl at the Inn between a Furner resident and a navvy working on the drain, the navy was found dead between Kangaroo and "Paynes" Inn. The case remained unsolved, and even today it is a matter of speculation as to who was the killer — the Furner resident or the local aborigines.
In 1878, the proprietors of the Inn were Mr and Mrs Grant, who later settled in Furner. During this time railways were taking over the business of mail coaches, so the Inn gradually lost trade. It was finally closed in 1886, when the Kintore Hotel was opened at Furner by Mr A.H. Bellinger. Later, the Inn was converted to an overseers cottage for Gillap Station, then owned by Mr N.M. Donald (Senior). The remains of the shearing shed and old sheep dip can be found nearby.
In the years after this, Kangaroo Inn was mostly deserted — occasionally being used as a camp by woodcutters. Now it hasn't been used for a long time and is partially in ruins.
Kangaroo Inn is nearly as old as the state of South Australia itself, and has played a large role in the life and decisions of our great grandparents who toiled with the land to make the district flourish and reach the standard we have today. “The Inn” has been partially restored thanks to a South Australia Jubilee 150 Youth Grant.