The History of The Fortune Of War: Sydney's Oldest Pub
As Sydney’s oldest pub in the rocks, Fortune of War has a rich history. The origins of this historic pub in Sydney dates as far back as 1801
That year, one Samuel Terry arrived in Sydney. Convicted of theft and transported for 7 years, Terry decided to make the most of his misfortune. By the time his sentence ended he had established himself as a merchant in Parramatta. In 1810 he moved to Sydney and opened a public house, coming to be known as the "Botany Bay Rothschild" because of his wealth.
Shortly after, Terry built a new structure to be used as a hotel and public house – the location known as the Fortune of War. The first recorded liquor license for the premises was received in 1828 by John Boreham. Since then, all historic pubs from the same era have been de-licensed or demolished, establishing the Fortune of War as the oldest pub in the rocks and firmly establishing its reputation as a historic pub in Sydney. The Fortune of War has survived changes in ownership, the bubonic plague, natural disasters and wars to keep this proud distinction. In fact, the original fabric can still be found inside!
Traditionally associated with individuals of ‘colourful’ backgrounds, the historic rocks pub had a reputation as a popular ‘first and last stop ashore’ for troops of the Australian Armed Forces who would experience the ‘fortunes of war’ when they departed. Maritime tradition continued during the Second World War when the hotel was patronised by the Royal Australian Navy, Royal Navy and Merchant Navy when their ships were berthed at nearby Circular Quay. This historic link with our armed forces continues through the celebration of former comrades by the WW2 veterans of the 2nd Mountain Battery and the 7th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, Vietnam veterans who reunite at the historic Sydney pub on ANZAC Day.
As the oldest pub in Sydney and an important part of Sydney’s past, the historic Fortune of War continues to proudly serve its ‘colourful’ patrons to this day.