The Victoria Hotel (‘the Vic’) has been a Darwin institution since its opening in July 1890 and would be, according to the NT Times and Gazette, the ‘best and most commodious hotel north of Townsville’.
Commissioned by Ellen Ryan, then of Grove Hill, it was a two-storey porcellanite construction. Initially named the North Australia Hotel, it was renamed Victoria on 11 September 1896. The hotel is an icon of the Darwin cityscape and was the grandest hotel in Palmerston for many years. Ellen Ryan hosted a number of VIP guests, including Mr Justice Dashwood and family and the South Australia Premier, Sir Thomas Playford, in 1892.
All hotels in the northern part of the Northern Territory were nationalised by the Australian Government in September 1915 after which the Administrator, the contentious Dr JA Gilruth, ordered the closure of public bar in the Vic Hotel, causing acrimony among already agitated working men. Thus the Vic has an association with the Darwin Rebellion of December 1918 and the issue of political representation for Northern Territory citizens. The Vic has survived three major cyclones and World War II, during which it was compulsorily acquired by the Navy then relinquished in 1945.