If you were on Baylis Street, Wagga in 1910, looking towards where the Myer building now stands, this is the sight that you would see.
The Bushman’s Home opened on Morrow Street on Saturday 14 May 1892. The original proprietor was George Aston, who also operated the Newtown Boarding House (until 1893).
The Bushman’s Home was established to offer itinerate workers such as shearers, roustabouts, drovers and cutlers an affordable place to live.
Known throughout the region as Aston’s Bushman’s Home, patrons paid ninepence for 24 hours’ accommodation.
The home was open for male travellers. They had to do their own cooking and provide their own bedding and blankets.
Cooking utensils and all table requisites were supplied by the proprietor, who also provided wood, water and gas free of charge.
The premises were described as large and commodious, with several rooms furnished with stretchers, tables and chairs. One room was set aside as a sitting room, with games including chess, draughts, Nelly Bly and more provided, in addition to newspapers and books.
The kitchen was fitted with two large fireplaces and ranges. A registry office for servants was also carried on in connection with the home. George also opened a general store in the front portion of the building, supplying various goods at store prices to his lodgers and the general public.
Newspapers including the Wagga Wagga Advertiser (WWA) and The Worker regularly ran adverts for George’s boarding house.
He was immortalised in two verses printed in the papers:
“The Home is the place, my boy;
Come away from the beer and try.
Promises are all my eye –
You’ll make them until you die.”
“Bushmen, now be wise, and give me a call,
Under my roof there is comfort for all;
Save your hard earnings, and for ninepence per day
Have all you require, in an exquisite way.
Mind, in cooking utensils you get all you require,
And, always remember, a rattling good fire.
Night time, when it comes, you have stretcher and bed,
So, take my advice, you will not be misled.
Home you will find it, and plenty to cheer,
Over jovial companions, away from the beer.
Mind, ask for GEORGE ASTON, the Bushman’s old friend,
Ever striving to be the sober man’s friend.”
George operated the boarding house until he sold it at tender in 1896. He died the following year.
In 1897 “the oldest establishment for male servants”, the Bushman’s Home, changed hands from George Aston to C. Newman & Co. Charles Newman ran the home at the daily price of sixpence until June 1899, when he disposed of the business.
In 1907, George Halstean leased the Bushman’s Home, before it was purchased by William Thomas Dunn, a soldier of the Salvation Army. William was also a secondhand dealer, and his store is visible in the small building at the right in the photo.