After an extensive and sensitive renovation, we have breathed new life into the beautiful Federation building that has been standing since 1910. Our renovation was designed to retain everything that made it special, such as its heritage, charm, ambience, and waterfront location.
Gladstone and Smithtown are twin towns separated by the Macleay River. Gladstone township is one largely intact river town with close links to the development of the Macleay River.
The land where Gladstone is situated was marked for a village reserve in 1859. The first lots in Gladstone (formerly Darkwater, so named due to the tea tree leeching from Belmore river.) were sold in 1860, however, it was not until 1864 that the village was surveyed by Surveyor Ernst Herborn.
In 1870 the township of Darkwater became known as Gladstone and Darkwater Creek became known as Belmore River. The name changes commemorated the visit to the Macleay of the Earl of Belmore, Governor of New South Wales. Gladstone was the maiden name of the Governor’s wife.
Gladstone was a commercial centre. From its wharves, that once existed, passengers and freight destined for Austral Eden, the Belmore River, Kinchela, Kinchela Creek and other lower river areas were landed or dispatched.
The story of The Old Bank & Darkwater House dates back to November 1908 when Mr. Henry Barnett sold a block of land at the junction of Kinchela and MacLeay Street to the Commercial Banking Co, (now the National Australia Bank) for £200.
On July 8, 1910 Mr. IB Hodgkinson became the successful tender to erect a weatherboard building with 6 brick chimneys, an iron roof and a strong room. The building was to serve as a bank chamber and a Bank Manager’s residence. The cost £1435 and another £44 covered the cost of the stables. Designed in the style of Federation with Art Nouveau features, the building was built using red mahogany and Cedar. Featuring 6 fireplaces, a parlor, formal dining room and five bedrooms one of which was the servant’s quarters.
The new premises at 20 Kinchela St, replaced the original branch at 27 Kinchela St Gladstone that opened in 1905.
The commercial banking co, at Darkwater house served many local industries in the area. The Nestlé factory, which is still located at Smithtown, the farming dairy and thriving river boat industry. The last bank manager was Mr. Ray Howard.
The Commercial Banking Company closed its full time operation in Gladstone in 1973 and then became a bank agency, operating a few days a week until 1978. Not long after the bank closed, it was sold into private ownership In 1988, the then owner, David & Beryl Bevan opened the bank chamber as a Darkwater House Tea Room in April. It then closed a year or so later.
In the Autumn of 1996, Alan and Tania’s dream to own The Old Bank at Gladstone came true. Many years of taking photos and dreaming about owning the old home, they finally plucked up the courage to ask the owners to sell to them. By the end of that same week, contracts were exchanged and the rest is history. The challenging task of jacking, stripping, repairing and painting the old Bank began.
The huge renovation & restoration task continued for many years. Whilst their young boys grew up and Alan commuted to Sydney for work. In 1999, Tania undertook and completed her Commercial Cookery Trade certificate to become a chef. The Old Bank Licensed Restaurant was birthed in 2014 and during the Pandemic of 2020, the Boutique accommodation was created.