The History of the Royal Hotel

The Royal Hotel has long been a fixture in our community. Standing opposite the Upper Gully Railway Station, over the years the hotel has had a long and colourful history.

So many of us pass it every day as we make our way up the mountain, travelling that familiar stretch of Burwood Hwy towards the national park and the 1,000 Steps. In that sense, perhaps not much has changed over the years – as in the early 1900s, the hotel served as the local pitstop for many travellers making the same journey from the city to spend their holidays in the hills.

The Dandenong Ranges were then considered something of a ‘health retreat’ for city dwellers. Did you know, in 1910 Upper Ferntree Gully was considered ‘the healthiest spot in the Southern Hemisphere’? ‘If you want to save on doctors’ bills,’ declared a local ad, ‘stop at the Royal Hotel.’

The Royal was first established in August 1889. Travellers to the Dandenongs, who were disembarking at the railway station, would be greeted by a porter, who’d escort them over the road to the hotel. As mentioned in a newspaper report at the time, ‘visitors were afforded the first opportunity of travelling via the new line, and viewing the picturesque scenery along the route.’

The official grand opening was marked with a banquet, which was well-attended. The area behind the hotel, which we now know as a carpark, was then home to stables, where horses could have a well-earnt feed. At the time, Burwood Hwy (then known as Burwood Rd) was a single lane – and the hotel’s telephone number was simply ‘Telephone 9’!

The hotel had 65 rooms in which people could stay, and a large dining area seating 250 people. How things have changed since then!

In August 2019, the Royal celebrated its 130th year – and to this day it continues to be a place for locals to catch up and enjoy a meal. It’s also a regular meeting place for patrons heading over to the 1812 Theatre to see a play.

What are your memories of the Royal Hotel? We’d love to hear them. Send in to us at

Meg Hellyer

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