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Boydtown Seahorse Inn

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Boydtown is a historic whaling station in the Ben Boyd National Park. Along with East Boyd, they are two ghost towns on the southern shore of Twofold Bay opposite Eden.

Benjamin Boyd was a wealthy London stockbroker who came to Australia to seek his fortune. His scheme was to enter into shipping and pastoral enterprises and he persuaded many British to invest financially.

He arrived in 1842 and established a coastal steamship service and to finance operations, he floated a banking company with a nominal capital of £1 million.

He quickly put the Seahorse paddle-steamer into operation. It covered the southern route from Sydney to Twofold Bay and Hobart. Within two years of his arrival he had become one of the largest landholders in the colony with over 1 million hectares in the Riverina and Monaro regions where he ran 158,000 sheep and 21,000 cattle.

Shore whaling and the related oil extraction process had been established on the bay for fifteen years and Boyd added both to his other enterprises, undertaking the settlement of East Boyd for this purpose.

He was a firm believer in low wages and had difficulty finding recruits for his various enterprises. His solution was to begin importing natives from the Pacific Islands as a source of cheap labour, but most had to be returned by the end of the year due to objections from liberals, humanitarians and Australian labourers, who saw a threat to their own interests.

Boyd's financial backing was evident in the grand style in which Boydtown was built. The best evidence is the grandeur of the historic Seahorse Inn, built in 1843 using convict labour.

He also built brick houses, a store, woolshed and jetty where his vessels were berthed. He also constructed a lookout, known as Boyd's Tower. From there, whalers could spot their potential catch. Construction of a church was begun but never completed. The tour and church ruins remain today.

The Depression of the 1840s hit Benjamin Boyd hard and meant the end to many of his operations. From a prosperous commercial centre with over 200 inhabitants, Boydtown became a deserted ruin. Buildings were abandoned and deteriorating and part of the population moved to Eden.

Boyd left Australia for the Californian Gold Fields, but disappeared while hunting in the Soloman Islands and The Seahorse Inn remained deserted, reduced to a mere shell due to vandalism and natural deterioration.

In 1936 it was purchased by the Whiter brothers, who renovated, restored and added a second storey.

These days it is a luxurious boutique hotel offering old-world charm and modern luxury. The original hand-carved doors, stained-glass, winding staircases, large open grates and attic bedrooms remain and give guests a wonderful taste of how things once were.

Ten guest rooms and suits have views across Twofold Bay or beautiful landscaped gardens and sprawling lawns.

Dining options are varied. The Brasserie opens for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It has a relaxed atmosphere and specialises in local seafood. Devonshire tea is available throughout the day.

Bettena's Restaurant offers elegant a la carte dining for lunch and dinner. Cosy fireplaces are very welcoming in the cold months. A large open patio is wonderful in summer, and is warmed with tallboy heaters during winter.

The Allan Whiter Family Saloon Bar and June Farrell Cocktail Bar have a wide range of beers, wines and cocktails.


The Seahorse Inn rooms start at $174 a night. Family rooms with two king beds or four singles are $269 a night. Continental breakfast is included. Rooms with facilities for the disabled are available.


500kms south of Sydney.

For further information

The Seahorse Inn
Boydtown Park Road
Boydtown NSW 2551
Ph: (02) 6496 1361
Fax: (02) 6496 4211

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