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Davilak Hotel

1903, now called the South Beach Hotel, 396 South Terrace (formerly Mandurah Road), at the corner with Harbour Road


The Davilak Hotel before the tram tracks were installed ...


... and during installation ...


Heritage Council.:
The Davilak Hotel (also known as the Davilak Tavern) is a two storey commercial building that has a verandah which extends the length of each elevation and has a truncated entrance. The verandahs are supported on slender turned timber posts and also derive support from diagonal steel brackets strutted back to the walls under the first floor and under the verandah roof over. These struts are a legacy from the time when the verandah posts at street level were removed. The posts have a balustrade of closely spaced balusters at first floor level, a lattice freize at ground floor level and timber brackets at each level.
South Terrace was formerly called Mandurah Road. It followed the line of ancient Aboriginal tracks and was the main entrance to Fremantle from the south. Mandurah Road used to continue south along the coast, but owing to shifting sand dunes, it was necessary to make a deviation to Douro Road and travel further inland.
In 1859, Fremantle Suburban Lot S14 was owned by Matthew Fletcher, of Fremantle. In 1892, Edward William Davies (a rate collector), William Alexander Chamberlain (a boat builder) and William Ernest Wray (Town Councillor) were tenants in common of Suburban Lots S14 & S15. The syndicate owned much land in South Fremantle and subdivided it for residential and commercial purposes in the mid-1890s.
The Davilak Hotel appears in the Fremantle Rate Book for the first time in 1903/04, along with a stable and stores. The land was owned by Joseph and Robert Holmes (butchers) and the first publican was George B Beard.
The South Fremantle Tram Service, which commenced in 1905, terminated at Douro Road, not far from the Davilak Hotel.
By 1913, James Durkin was the owner and occupier of the Davilak Hotel. He also owned the surrounding land (Lots 42, 43, 44 and 45) between Commercial Road and Harbour Rd. James Durkin died on 7 January 1928 and the title to the properties passed to the executors of his will – the Perpetual Executor Trustees and Agency Co (WA Ltd). (When a new title was issued in 1939, Perpetual Executor Trustees was still the owner).
In 1932, Davilak Hotel was leased to Katherine and Lionel Samson and George and John Payne, wine and spirit merchants. In 1937, it was leased to George John.
A diagram dated 1954 shows the hotel at the corner of South Terrace and Harbour Road. A conjoined brick shop was located to the north of the hotel. At the back of the hotel were a bitumen beer garden faced by a small weatherboard building, a large galvanised iron shed and several other small buildings.
The Perpetual Executor Trustees remained the registered owner of the Davilak Hotel until 1969, when it was purchased by John and Ellen Parry and Donald and Wendy Teague (all of the Ozone Hotel, Adelaide Terrace) and Edward and Maureen Warr (managers of the Davilak Hotel). Extensive internal renovations were undertaken in the early 1970s.
In 1980, the hotel was sold to Kire Gastevski, Hotelkeeper, Katija Gastevski, married woman, Zivko Gastevski, bar manager, and Mica Gastevski, married woman, all of the Davilak Hotel. In 1985, the manager of the hotel, Marrah Carter, had the exterior of the hotel painted green and gold in support of the America's Cup bid. The hotel was also upgraded at this time.
In 1986, the Davilak Hotel was owned by Trimble Nominees Pty Ltd of Mandurah (still all of lots between Commercial and Harbour Roads).
Over the years, the Davilak has been an important part of South Fremantle's social and urban fabric. For a time, one of the bars was called the 'Passion Pit' or the 'Virgin's Parlour' – it was a ladies' lounge for darts nights and get-togethers. Regular drinkers also formed their own football team.
Circa 1996, the hotel was converted to mixed commercial and residential use, with a bar, bottle shop, restaurant and ten apartments, some of which incorporate the original upstairs accommodation. Other apartments are situated at the rear of the property. Oldfield Knott Architects designed the redevelopment.
This place was included in the "Heritage Study South Fremantle", prepared by John Taylor Architects, for the City of Fremantle, June 1993. It was also included in the list of heritage places in the City of Fremantle identified by the Fremantle Society (1979/80) - PURPLE - of architectural and historic significance in its own right.
A Heritage Assessment was prepared in March 2010 by the City of Fremantle for a DA submission to Council for external signage.
The Davilak Hotel, 306 [should be 396?] South Terrace (1903) is historically significant as a hotel dating from the gold boom period in South Fremantle and still operating for its original purpose. The place is a fine example of the Federation Filigree style of architecture with elaborate detailing. It has aesthetic significance for its landmark qualities and its contribution to the streetscape. It has social value to local workers and residents as a gathering place. Heritage Council.

Bob Reece and Rob Pascoe's book A Place of Consequence (FACP, 1983) gives the fanciful explanation of the name Davilak :
'... Davilak, which had taken its name from Devil's Lake in front of the house built by his father here in the early 1850s (p. 47).' 'Here' being Hamilton Hill, and 'his father' being Charles Alexander Manning.
But the City of Cockburn thinks it's more likely that the name came from that of the land agent J.W. Davey, the first land-holder in the area, as Charles Manning said in 1868 that the area where he built a house (near Manning Lake) was known as 'Davy's Swamp', which became Davy's Lake, and then Davilak. Manning Lake was on Davey's property c. 1895, as shown on the map on the City's page called Naming Davilak.

From Allen Graham in Facebook 14 June 2018:
This week’s feature hotel is what I like to remember as the Davilak Hotel in South Fremantle, but is today known as the South Beach Hotel, or as demonstrated by the Australian penchant for abbreviation, the SBH. Once Western Australia started to enjoy some prosperity with the arrival of the convicts in 1850 the number of hotels in the colony quickly started to increase to such an extent that in 1856 Governor Kennedy put a freeze on hotel numbers which wasn’t lifted until 1873. After that the number of hotels again expanded and was further accelerated with the gold rushes of the 1890s. Thus, at the zenith of the hotel trade the Fremantle Township had 19 hotels, with a further 10 spread across the adjoining suburbs. The Davilak was one of those and while applications had been made to have a hotel in this part of South Fremantle since 1897, it was not until October 1903 that the Davilak opened for business, making it one of the last of the gold rush hotels to open in the Fremantle area. And this timing was fortuitous for it coincided with the new tram service terminating only a 100 metres from its doors. This tram service being responsible for the popularity of South Beach with day trippers and holiday makers and for the beach becoming known as the ‘Brighton of the West.’ (Picture credits, B&W - FLHC. Colour - SLWA). Contemporary pictures 1986 and today. [images not shown on this page]

The Herald (Fremantle) 11 January 1868, page 1:
Caution to Trespassers.
I HEREBY give notice that from and after the date of this advertisement,  I will impound all stook [sic] found at large  on Cockburn Sound Location No. 10,  (known as Robb's grant,) No. 4, (known  as H. E. Hall's,) No, 3, (known as  Davy's Swamp,) No. 87, 83, 85, 101, 109,  and 102, on the sea side of the hills, 112,  113 and 114 on the East side of No. 3,  and the ground extending Southward for  about a'mile inaline'with No. 3, that is as  far as Mr. Ellis' ground more or less, and  that I will prosecute the owners of such  stock for trespass, unless such owners  have obtained my permission in writing.  C. A. MANNING.  Fremantle, October 11, 1867. 

References and Links

Notes in Fremantle, the newsletter of the Fremantle Society: July 1995March 1996.

Heritage Council page

City of Cockburn website: see its pages for The Davilak Estate, and Naming Davilak.

The Herald (Fremantle) 11 January 1868, page 1: Manning mentions 'Davy's Swamp', in a Caution to Trespassers (above).

Garry Gillard | New: 23 September, 2014 | Now: 12 February, 2022