What is significant?
The remains of the Rockbank Inn comprise three ruinous bluestone structures, believed to have been the hotel, a store building and a stable. These remains are located next to the remains of Beatty?s Bridge on Kororoit Creek, and on Beatty?s Road, formerly one of the main roads to Ballarat from Melbourne. In the 1850s diggers on their way to the gold fields frequented the Rockbank Inn.
The earliest section was possibly constructed c1853 for Melbourne wine and spirit merchants James Stewart and John ?Como? Brown, when they acquired the land from pastoralist William Cross Yuille. Stewart and Brown owned several hotels in Victoria and Brown was a noted builder in Melbourne in the 1840s. However the earliest section of the inn may have been part of Yuille?s improvements when he sold his pre-emptive right to Stewart and Brown in 1853.
The only definite date of construction is 1855, when architect Charles Laing designed bluestone additions to the hotel for John Gray. Gray owned the inn from c1855 until sold by his trustees in 1870.
There are contemporary accounts of visits to Rockbank Inn in c1854 by William Kelly, Irish author and barrister and in the same year a stopover by a troop of soldiers marching along the Ballarat Road to face the Eureka rebels. These were members of the 12th and 40th foot and gun parties for HMS Electra and HMS Fantome.
The inn later became a residence, and was occupied continuously for about 90 years by the Beattie family before being finally abandoned in c1960.
How is it significant?
The Rockbank Inn site is of archaeological and historical significance to the State of Victoria.
Why is it significant?
The Rockbank Inn site is archaeologically significant for its demonstrated ability to provide information about the occupation and usage of the inn during the nineteenth century. The site has a high potential to produce artefacts relating to its mid to late nineteenth century occupation. The archaeological process has a potential to produce more information about the method of construction and materials used during the various building phases of the inn.
The Rockbank Inn site is historically significant for its associations with diggers on their way to the gold fields around Ballarat, and with the soldiers involved in the suppression of the Eureka rebels in December 1854.