Emu Bay Inn
Within twenty years of the first settlement at Emu Bay by the Van Diemen’s Land Company two small public houses were built. The little building known as The Burnie Tavern, later known as the Burnie Inn, opened its doors in September 1847 against a dismal and threatening backdrop of forest and stumps on the windswept shores of Emu Bay. Further east, towards the Emu River was the Emu Inn. They were Burnie’s first public houses.
Far from being a den of iniquity for drunkards and layabouts, the hotels had a civilising effect on the community. They offered some comforts which were greatly appreciated by the scattered and socially deprived population of Emu Bay. As a meeting place for settlers and a resting place for hardy travellers in the wilds of the North West Coast, the pioneer pub offered vital contact with civilisation.
The little hotels could be recognised by a swinging sign in the daytime and by night a bright candle or paraffin oil powered lamp, which could be seen from a distance and guided weary travellers to a resting place for the night.
The Burnie Inn’s best known operators were Thomas Wiseman and his wife Harriet (known affectionately as ‘Granny’ Wiseman). As the settlement at Emu Bay grew the Wisemans and their sons opened more hotels and prospered with the fortunes of the town. By the turn of the century the Wisemans owned many of the licensed houses in Burnie.
The Burnie Inn is the city’s oldest surviving building. It was moved from its original site in 1973 and is now restored and preserved in the Burnie Park. The Emu Bay Inn featured in the streetscape is modelled on the Burnie Inn, and displays some of the personal possessions of Granny Wiseman.