The Port of Adelaide, which was proclaimed in 1837, shares this distinction particularly when the first settlers arrived and sought refreshment and relaxation after many months cooped up in small areas below the decks of slow sailing vessels.
As with any port, alcoholic beverages were in demand by the free immigrants from the United Kingdom in those early days. Port Adelaide was the welcoming arrival point for all who were about to begin a new life in a strange country.
Because of the difficulties faced in the selection of a site for a capital city in the newly proclaimed state of South Australia in 1836 the final decision resulted in a situation where the city and port were 12 kms apart.
Added to this was the difficulty of access to the original proclaimed site by shipping and the dismal conditions of the tidal swamp surrounding it.
Consequently another port was proclaimed four years later at the site of the present Port Adelaide.
It was inevitable that those early arrivals, both immigrants and seamen would seek hospitality in a hotel or inn after so many months in cramped, uncomfortable quarters on a ship.
Early records are vague but there were two sites known to have catered for the needs of the arrivals.
Both the Ship Inn and the Caledonian Inn were in operation at the time, and probably prior, to the date of 1838 when licences were granted. both were probably rough huts because of the lack of building materials and their exact positions are unrecorded, but their licences were closed in 1842 just a little after the new port was proclaimed in 1840.
A new port demanded work and a flow of shipping and that is just what happened as did an increase in the demand for hospitality and comfort which resulted in an ever-increasing number of hotels.
The first hotel at the new site was Port Hotel on North Parade which was licensed to begin operating on March 23, 1839, but was known to have served from October, 1838.
This hotel operated until 1951 when it was closed and demolished to make way for increasing wharf use.