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Mayse Young Hall of Fame

At the 2013 AHA (NT) Aristocrat Awards for Excellence, President of the AHA (NT), Doug Sallis announced the establishment of the ‘Mayse Young Hall of Fame’.

The Mayse Young Hall of Fame seeks to recognised individuals who have made significantly positive contributions to the Northern Territory’s hospitality industry. Currently Hospitality NT only recognises individuals for their involvement and contributions to Hospitality NT through awarding Hospitality NT Life Membership.

The Mayse Young Hall of Fame broadens the scope of recognition to consider any individual who has been heavily involved in the NT’s hospitality industry over an extended period of time.

All nominations received will be assessed by the Hospitality NT Board, who will consider a nominee’s achievements, passion, leadership, character and personality and key contributions they have made to the Territory’s hospitality industry.

Nominations may be sent to theHospitality NT’s Board for consideration at any time, addressed to:

Hospitality NT Board

 GPO Box 3270 Darwin

NT 0801


2013- Mayse Young

Mayse Young is arguably the greatest female ‘outback’ publican and a true pioneer of the Territory’s hospitality industry.  From humble beginnings Mayse Young (born Mayse Dowling) began working for her parents, father George Dowling and mother, Evelyn Dowling at the Pine Creek Hotel in 1930.

Right from the start Mayse Young was known for her generous and friendly spirit, good sense of humour and most importantly her connection and love of the characters that patronised the pub.  Mayse Young’s success behind the bar was matched by her astute business sense, which from 1950 onwards saw her own and operate pubs in Darwin and Katherine in addition to Pine Creek, all the while raising her 8 children.  Mayse Young’s determine to succeed in the hospitality industry and her resilience saw her overcome many tragic circumstances including losing her home during the Bombing of Darwin in 1942 and rebuilding her pub, The Seabreeze in Nightcliff, after it was destroyed in Cyclone Tracey in 1974.  

Mayse Young treated her pubs like her family home and laid the foundations for the Territory’s iconic hospitality industry, where a hospitality venue is the nucleus of a community, a place where both locals and travellers can visit and have a good time, all the while being well looked after.  Mayse Young was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for her service to the community in 1996. Mayse Young sadly passed away in 2006 leaving her children and now grandchildren still involved and imbedded in the Territory’s hospitality industry.  

Mayse Young’s career and personal attributes typifies the very best in our industry, with her astute business sense, loveable personality and strong connections with her community, all contributing to her successful career and life in the Territory’s hospitality industry. At the 2013 AHA (NT) Aristocrat Awards for Excellence, Mayse Young was also announced as the inaugural inductee of the Mayse Young Hall of Fame, which was accepted by her son Glenn Young, alongside other members of her extended family.


2014- Timothy and Catherine O'Shea

No-one had had stronger faith in the Northern Territory and its future than Tim and Catherine O'Shea. They proved that faith when they built and operated a string of business ventures, mostly hotels, between Pine Creek and Borroloola.

Tim and Catherine were both born in Ireland, Tim in 1878, Catherine in 1880. In 1900 Tim set out for Australia to seek better chances in life than Ireland offered him. Before he left he asked Catherine O'Keefe to marry him. He promised Catherine that he would come back for her as soon as he had made good in Australia. Tim worked at the hardest jobs which were available in north Queensland until 1907. Then he was able to go back to Ireland to marry the loyal and patient Catherine. After the wedding they sailed for Australia and spent some time on the mining fields of north Queensland.

In 1909 Tim and Catherine came to Pine Creek, where Tim went mining and worked on the railway extension to the Katherine River. Then, in 1918, Tim, Catherine and their growing family moved to the new railhead at Emungalen, on the north bank of the Katherine River.

At Emungalen Catherine opened a boarding house, while Tim and his brother in law Bill Lucy opened a blacksmith's shop. When the railway line crossed the Katherine River in 1926 the O'Sheas crossed too - over to the new Katherine township where they opened "O'Shea's Railway Hotel". The hotel was conducted by O'Shea family members for the next fifty years. Tim and his family became synonymous with Katherine and they still have many links with the place. In 1927 Tim built the Tattersall's Hotel in Borroloola and installed his brother John as manager.

After the move to Katherine, Tim worked on the Katherine to Birdum railway extension before he and Bill Lucy built the Birdum Hotel, which opened for business on 11 July 1930, just a fortnight after Catherine died of rheumatic fever. Later, after military authorities pulled the railhead back from Birdum to Larrimah, Tim relocated the Birdum Hotel to that new centre.

Tim helped Bill Lucy build the Grove Hill Hotel, which opened in 1935.

Tim died in 1958. The Territory by then was just beginning to lived to up to the faith Tim had in it. He would have said ‘And its about time, to be sure.’


2015- Kilgariff Family

In 2015 the Mayse Young Award was presented by NT Historian Peter Forrest and AHANT life member Brian Kelly to the Kilgariff Family represented by Michael and Kathryn Kilgariff. The Mayse Young award is designed to recognise the contributions of outstanding pioneers of the industry in earlier times. As Peter Forrest reminded us: “The industry has an amazing history and it is right that this history should be recorded and celebrated in this way. People in the industry today stand on the shoulders of the industry's pioneers.”

The Kilgariff Family - a worthy recipient of the Mayse Young Award.Through several generations the Kilgariffs have made immense contributions to the social and economic history of the Territory. In Central Australia, the Kilgariff family has conducted, owned or built hotels in Alice Springs, Barrow Creek, Tennant Creek and Aileron, as well as licensed stores at several Centralian goldfields.

The Stuart Arms in Alice Springs opened in 1889 and had numerous licensees until new management in 1927 saw the arrival of Joe and Eileen Kilgariff. Joe was a builder, from a family with a hotel-keeping background in South Australia. As the railway from Oodnadatta inched north toward Alice Springs, the entrepreneurial Joe saw a future in the Centre. His wife Eileen took the lease of the Stuart Arms hotel and Joe significantly upgraded and extended the hotel in 1929. Alice Springs prospered after the railway arrived and the Kilgariffs did well at the Stuart Arms.

A notable feature of the hotel, and its major draw card, was the barmaid Mona Minehan, Eileen Kilgariff's sister and one of Central Australia's greatest ever characters. Mona later built her own hotel in Alice, the Riverside.

In 1932, with his brothers Steve and Frank, Joe went to Barrow Creek to build a hotel there - it's still trading, little changed since it first opened; it gives a clear idea of what things were like 'before the bitumen.'

The Kilgariffs made their own concrete building blocks and relied very largely on their own family labour force to put the building up. Young Bern Kilgariff, later to become a Senator among many other things, was one of the brick makers. The new hotel was opened in November 1932.

As soon as the Barrow Creek venture was completed, the restless Joe began looking further afield. Tanami, The Granites and Jervois Range beckoned - there had been small rushes to these mining fields and Joe planned to build hotels at each place. Prudently, he tested the market first by opening licensed stores. He quickly saw that there would be little point in going ahead with hotels.

Joe didn't rest for long. In 1936 the Kilgariffs built the new Aileron hotel on contract for Fred Colson. Then Joe returned to Adelaide.

However, his brother Steve stayed in Alice Springs where he built much of the growing town. From 1958, Steve helped his son Bern and Bern's wife Aileen to build the first units in the complex that became the Oasis Motel. The motel opened with ten units in 1959; when Bern and Aileen Kilgariff sold out in 1985 the Oasis had 144 units. Through those years the Oasis was a home away from home for countless travellers and it was an important catalyst for remarkable tourism development in Central Australia. The bar in the Oasis restaurant became one of the Centre's favourite watering holes. It was a special spot for the Territory's pioneers and characters, people like the Kilgariffs.