In 1882 the Watson’s moved the goods out of their store at Burketown to Gregory Downs to the present site of the Hotel and started a pub and store. This was the spot that they had at first settled and built on when they arrived on the Gregory River but they found that travellers became a nuisance so they moved the homestead across the river to the present site.
The Watson’s had put the German, Baedertcher, in charge of the Gregory Pub and store and he did a good trade – as did the Watson Bros. They sold the business to a Mr Clark who took in a partner Mr Campbell before eventually selling on to Bill and Emily Barrett in 1889. When Bill died in 1892(?), Mrs Emily Barrett took over the licence and ran the business until her death in 1934. (Bill Barrett is buried on the ridge behind the hotel)
Mrs “Aunty” Barrett also took in and reared the child Harry Foster and his sister, Jessie. Harry and Jessie Foster’s young mother died in childbirth at Westmoreland Station and their father left the two children with Emily Barrett at the Gregory Hotel. He did not return for them and no-one seems to know what happened to him and assumed he died. Harry later managed Riversleigh Station and eventually, with his wife Gladys (nee Rendall) took over the Gregory Hotel in 1942 from Sammy and Violet Thorley. Harry’s son, Bill Foster also became the manager of both “Riversleigh” and “Gregory Downs”.
A race track, hall, tennis court and cricket pitch were eventually established near the Gregory Hotel which, over the years, has been renovated and now also includes an air conditioned motel building.