In the late 1890s the most commodious coach stopping inn between Mudgee and Gunnedah was the Flag Inn erected in a solitary area situated off the Tambar Springs road about 30kms north of Coolah. The Inn derived its name from the mass growth of flag lilies that bloom near its entrance.
The inn was constructed in c1880 and was almost demolished by fire in c1920. Over the next five years all the remains were removed. The only indications that the Inn existed is a sign board with a brief history of the Inn and a scattered regrowth of what was once a frontal hedge of introduced osage trees from the United States of America.
The Inn consisted of a large bar, office for the owner, parent’s bedroom and parlour, sitting room and a spacious dining room. There was an extensive kitchen and an oversized bakehouse with an immense stove and oven. Hot water was connected to the stone kitchen and bath rooms.
In addition there was a dormitory, fifteen bedrooms, one especially fitted for the governess, plus a big dance hall with a supper room.
There was long verandah which ran around the front and side of the Inn with a school room at one end, containing book cases, shelves etc.
Out buildings consisted of a butcher shop with all necessary equipment, a general store, saddle and harness room, a blacksmith’s shop with forge, a stable, with eight feeding boxes, plus a loft for the storage of hay and corn.
A shearing shed joined the blacksmith’s shop. Horse yards with watering troughs were provided nearby.
The Inn and all outbuildings were constructed by the first owner James Cornell Dempsey, who died in Boggabri, in 1926, aged 75 years.
The Inn was a coach rest area after stops at the Black Stump Inn and Bomera Station.
Mr Thomas Patrick Gleeson, a long time resident of Tambar Springs and member of the Legislative Council of NSW from 1946-1975, prior to his death, informed the writer of this article that three generations of the Gleeson family had connections with the local coach run from Gulgong - Tambar Springs – to Mullaley, and that the Flag Inn was noted for its hospitality and accommodation.
The osage trees mentioned above have been listed as a heritage item in the former Coonabarabran L E P and also on the draft L E P Heritage Schedule.
The remaining osage hedges have been identified as having an unique heritage value and warrant special protection because of their historical importance, botanical rarity, form and past historical functional value.
The Flag Osage trees have created an interest with passing tourists who stop and pick up the fallen osage fruit, somewhat like an orange.
Reg Kidd, who speaks on the local 2CR gardening program has on several occasions referred to the uniqueness of the osage trees north of Coolah.
Osage trees were first introduced into Australia a little prior to 1850, for the use on farms for the provision of hedges to avoid the construction of the more expensive post and rail fencing.
The properties that recommended the osage trees in lieu of fencing was their rapid growth, formidable prickles to deter stock, vertical and penetrating roots, which enable it to stand the severest droughts.
Its leaves and fruit are unpalatable to cattle.
When the search for the murdering Governor brothers moved into the Tambar Springs-Boggabri area in August, 1900, the Flags Inn became the temporary search centre for police, troopers and assisting civilians.
The Sergeant-in-Charge, William Borthwhistle, warned the owner Mr Dempsey that a mere 75 men would be coming to the Flags Inn for lunch.
However, before 2pm 200 men turned up and were adequately catered for.
- Roy Cameron, OAM