top of page

Friend in Hand Hotel

Corner Fyansford-Gheringhap road and what came to be known as Friend in Hand road

Anchor 1

Sunrise from Friend in Hand Road  by Geoffrey123

Click first image to see detail in full

Friend in Hand Timeline

1854  Thomas Brock purchased land on corner of Fyansford-Gheringhap road and what came to be known           as Friend in Hand road.

1855  Hotel, a two-storey, solid-brick, slate-roof construction with a sitting room, bar parlor, five bedrooms             and a bachelors' hall. Before completion of the hotel, Brock, his mother and step-father, Thomas                   Solomon Crabtree (a regular drinker) move in. Crabtree found guilty of killing Brock with a large cast-           iron pot in a tent near the hotel and sentenced to seven years hard labour.

1857  Friend in Hand Hotel open to the public.

1859  William Roberts takes over premises.  
1861  Hotel license transferred to Thomas Lloyd Poole.

1863  Hotel's stock was again being auctioned off. 

1866  Friend in Hand Hotel was no longer trading. 

          Property again sold with the new owner, John Rock, using the land to run stock

1870  Hotel leased to Daniel Butler Watson.
1871  Watson lived at the hotel operating it as a small store.

          Watson arrested and committed to stand trial on charges of forgery, etc.
          During this time, it has been suggested, the hotel became home to passing tramps and criminals.

1876  John Rock demolishes building and auctions the building materials.

2016  Site is currently pasture land.

It is difficult to understand the ongoing failure of this establishment; particularly in light of its prime location on the heavily-trafficked Geelong to Ballarat road. Perhaps the over-saturation of public houses (six hotels within a seven mile stretch of road), coupled with the fact that by the 1860s the bulk of alluvial gold deposits at Ballarat had been worked out and that in 1862 the Geelong-Ballarat railway line was opened, all combined to render these institutions less successful.

(Ref. Jo Mitchell's Barwon Blog). 

Anchor 2
The Ghost at Friend in Handpp.JPG

In 1996 John Pescott was living in St. Leonards, Victoria.

Pescott began his working life in the public service but left after two years to became a carpenter/builder and then a teacher of woodwork and English.

Pescott started Neptune Press in the 1970s to feature writers from the Geelong region.

  • He compiled the history text, South Barwon 1857-1985, for Victoria's 150th anniversary celebrations in 1985.

  • He collaborated with Victorian pilot John Miles in producing Testing Time (1979); Miles's biography.


John Pescott's Publications:

The Ghost at Friend-in-Hand, Belmont : Neptune Press , 1977 

In Search of Benito's Treasure, Belmont : Neptune Press , 1980 

Adventure in Flinders' Footsteps, Belmont : Neptune Press , 1975

The Sanctuary, 1996  Appears in: Gathering Force , November no. 8 1996

For a comprehensive, and certainly a far more entertaining read

of the ups-n-downs of this ill-fated establishment

see Jo Mitchell’s two Barwon Blog posts:


"The story goes that in the 1850s, the pub's owner hit his son-in-law over the head with a saucepan. He died, was buried on a farm and haunted the area. The pub ended in ruins.
Such was the ghost's reputation that my grandfather and his brother dressed in white sheets to spook a notorious cattle duffer who stole stock from farms at night.
The pair jumped out in front of the thief's horse, which bolted. He was never seen again....


"...the old Friend in Hand, which was situated on the Ballarat road about three miles from Fyansford. It was the home of tramps for many years. Early residents said that when it was being built two bricklayers (father and son) quarrelled and one killed the other with a hammer. Afterwards the place was supposed to be haunted, so that with fewer teams passing and the supposed ghost, trade fell away and tenants did not stay long in it.

Take me to it

ceramic beer mug Ca 1850.jpg
Anchor 3


But, was the Friend in Hand Hotel, in fact, haunted?


Do you believe in ghosts?


No, not the 'let's pretend' Halloween ghost... 


the real fair-dinkum ghost



You know ~ "spirits-of-the-departed" type thing...

Surely, any place with a history such as Fyansford's 

must have more than its share of ghosts...

Is the former Protestant Asylum haunted?

The Australian Ghost Investigators think it is.


Was the Friend in Hand Hotel haunted?

Many think it was.

If anyone would know, it's John Pescott.

But, I think only Jo Mitchell really knows for sure...

bottom of page