b. 2 May 1897, d. 8 December 1980
Tom Phillips
Image: Lesley Blythman
FatherJohn Phillips1 b. 25 Jul 1863, d. 6 Aug 1925
MotherEllen O'Loughlin1 b. 26 Mar 1869, d. 24 Jun 1951

Birth, Death, Marriage

Thomas James Phillips was born on 2 May 1897 in Bacchus Marsh, Victoria.1,2 
He married Irene Gladys 'Sis' McDonald, daughter of Donald Glenorchy McDonald and Alice Euphemia Steer, on 9 September 1922 in St Monica's, Essendon, Victoria.3 
He died on 8 December 1980 in Shepparton, Victoria, at age 83.4 


Irene Gladys 'Sis' McDonald b. 4 Apr 1903, d. 17 Jul 1987
ChartsCampbell, John, descendant chart
McDonald, Archibald, descendant chart
O'Loughlin, Michael, descendant chart
Phillips, James, descendant chart
Phillips, Thomas, pedigree chart
Steer, Edward, descendant chart


Tom was born and grew up in Bacchus Marsh.

On turning 18, he joined the AIF's 13th Australian Light Horse regiment and served in the First World War in Egypt, France and Belgium.

He worked as an apprentice baker before the war. After the war, he worked in Nyah as a labourer then clubroom manager. After marrying local girl Sis McDonald, they moved to Shepparton where he worked as a bread deliverer, labourer, bookmaker, billiard marker, barman, publican, business man and probably others as well. Rumour has it, he was also an SP bookmaker.

For 15 years, Tom ran billiard saloons and hairdressers.

He was involved with six hotels around Victoria before taking over the Hotel Australia in 1944. With his personal skills, business acumen and a lot of hard work, Tom, together with his family, took the hotel to being regularly in the top ten liquor sales figures for country Victoria. The family sold the Aussie hotel in 1979, after 35 years.

A generous man, Tom helped numerous people with their own business ventures or if they fell on hard times. He was also a foundation member of the local jockey club and trotting club.

Tom and Sis had six children, and at the time of his death at age 83, he was 'Papa' to 29, and had nine great-grandchildren.

Early Life
Thomas James was born in Bacchus Marsh, Victoria on 2 May 1897. He was the fourth child of Ellen and John. He was known as Tom and TJ.2,1
He was the first to be born in Bacchus Marsh after the family moved from Lillimur. He spent all of his childhood in The Marsh and attended the local St Bernard's school.5
By age 15 he was working as an apprentice baker at Weston's in St Kilda where he worked for three and a half years.6
St Patrick's Day sports 1913: Tom Phillips 1st in the 1 mile bike race.7
Military Service
About three months after his 18th birthday, Tom joined the AIF's 13th Australian Light Horse regiment.8
Tom Phillips, trooper no. 1410
Image: Lesley Blythman
He had tried to enlist earlier on 9 June, about five weeks after his birthday, but it wasn't completed. The attestation page was completed and signed, and his medical was signed, but it was not seen by the commanding officer and he was not allocated to a unit.9
Thomas James Phillips, medical, 9 Jun 1915
Image: NAA
Thomas James Phillips, medical, 28 Jul 1915
Image: NAA
He enlisted in Melbourne on 28 July 1915, the same day his parents gave their permission. Ellen wrote the letter, including the words 'I give permission ...', and signed it. John later added his signature and the 'I' was crossed out and changed to 'we'.8
Permission letter for Tom Phillips to enlist, Bacchus Marsh, Jul 1915
Image: NAA
Tom Phillips and Bill Vallence were brothers-in-law after the war when Bill married Tom's sister Mary.
Tom Phillips & Bill Vallence, c. 1915
Image: Beth Phillips
Tom Phillips, Bill Vallence, probably Packington Vallence, nurses unknown, Bacchus Marsh, c. 1915
Image: Bacchus Marsh & District Historical Society
Tom was in the cadets for four years. This may have been part of a school program, or near St Kilda where he was an apprentice baker.

In the four months following enlistment, he was at a camp at Broadmeadows, then Seymour where he trained in the bush as part of the 13th Australian Light Horse regiment's 7th reinforcements.

The regimental number led to the nickname 'Devil's Own'.8
Devil's Own badge (unofficial), 13th Australian Light Horse
Image: Digger History
On 23 November 1915, he embarked in Melbourne, travelling via Albany to Egypt on the transport ship HMAT Ceramic.8
In 1914 the Ceramic was requisitioned for the First Australian Imperial Force as the troopship HMAT (His Majesty's Australian Transport) Ceramic, with the pennant number A40
Image: Paul Phillips
For three months, he trained with other reinforcements around Tel-el-Kebir, between the Nile and the Suez Canal (see map). Here the 13th Light Horse Regiment was split into three squadrons. Tom was assigned to C Squadron which became part of Fifth Division.8
In late June 1916, Tom disembarked at Marseilles in the south of France (see map) as this division moved to the Western Front. They travelled by train over 800 km north to what was known as the 'nursery sector' near Armentières (see map) where the whole of the 13th Light Horse Regiment was reassembled.

In July, the regiment became involved in the disastrous attack at Fromelles (see map) that resulted in 5533 casualties, the greatest loss of Australian lives in a single 24-hour period. This was the first time Australians were involved in a battle on the Western front. It is believed that on the German side of the attack was then 27 year old corporal Adolf Hitler.

In October, after several months of recovery, Fifth Division joined three other Divisions on the Somme around Flers and Bullecourt (see map). The main Somme fighting came to an end in November in the rain, mud, and slush of the oncoming winter.8,10,11,12,13
The 13th Light Horse Regiment and part of the 4th were the only Australian Light Horse to serve on the Western Front. The rest remained in Egypt, the Western Desert, Sinai and Palestine where conditions were more suitable.

Due to the static nature of the Western Front due to the trenches, traditional cavalry work was not available until the final stages of the war when mobility was a factor. Consequently, while the men from the 13th Light Horse Regiment participated in many of the major battles on the Western Front, it was done mainly as support troops. In that role the 13th Light Horse Regiment undertook traffic control, escort work and generally guarding the lines of communication.

Tom Carey wrote that Tom was 'a despatch rider in the mud and slush of the terrible battles of the Somme'. Through the worst of the 1916-1917 winter, until late March 1917, Tom's support role was on detachment to 22nd Field Artillery Brigade.

On 25 March 1917, he was assigned for duty with the Australian Provost Marshal. A form of military police, the 'provos' were responsible for traffic control along supply routes to ensure their most effective use. Three weeks later, Tom was on detachment to 1st Australian Divisional Train. A Divisional Train was a co-opted railway line, a rail head somewhere near the front line, and supply lines from there to the front lines for food, ammunition, etc. The supply lines were usually pack horse (but sometimes bicycle), and were patrolled and secured by the Provos.8,14,15,16,17
In March 1917 Fifth Division pursued the Germans to the Hindenburg Line, capturing Bapaume (France), and in May it relieved the First Division in the Second Battle of Bullecourt (France) (see map).

Over the next few months, the division made its way north towards Ypres in Belgium. In September it managed to turn an allied defeat into a major victory at the Battle of Polygon Wood (Belgium) (see map).

The division wintered around Messines (Mesen in Belgian, between Armentières and Ypres), occupying the front between November and December 1917.10
In December 1917, Tom was sick and transferred via Australian Field Ambulance to the Canadian Casualty Clearing Station at Remy siding near Poperinge (Belgium), then to the Canadian General Hospital in Boulogne (France). Initially diagnosed as influenza, a week later in Boulogne it was confirmed as trench fever. Two weeks later, on New Years Day 1918, Tom embarked Princess Elizabeth for transfer to Bristol in England.

In mid-January, he was transferred to an Australian military hospital in Dartford, east of London. A week later he was transferred to No. 4 Australian Command Depot in Hurdcott near Salisbury where AIF soldiers went to convalesce. Recovery stalled and by late March he was still suffering the after effects of the trench fever with symptoms including rapid heart rate (over 120 bpm), dizziness, breathing difficulties and exhaustion after even moderate exercise. There are also reports of shell shock and burns. A medical assessment determined that recovery would take more than six months, so Tom was sent home to recover. He left via Liverpool in late April aboard the hospital transport ship Suevic, turned 21 en route and arrived in Melbourne in early June.

Tom had assessments at No. 16 Australian General Hospital in MacLeod in Melbourne between June and September 1918. These led to the recommendation that he be discharged as permanently unfit with a 30% disability due to trench fever and dilated (or disordered) action of the heart.

He was discharged 9 October 1918, just a month before the end of the war. According to his certificate of discharge, Tom served 928 days abroad in a total of 1168 days service. He received three medals, the 1914/1918 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal.8,18
Mademoiselle from Armentières
It's possible Tom had a night with a Mademoiselle from Armentières on 9 August 1917.

In at least six entries in his service record (mostly copies or transcripts), he is AWL (absent without leave) from 6:30 am 9th August to 6:30 on the 10th, and the place given is London. But there are no corresponding entries of his transfer to or from England, like four months later when he was sick. However, in one other record, a separate page, the place is 'field' and it is stamped 'Certified checked with records ... London'. It seems likely someone has transcribed this incorrectly and others have copied the mistake.

In August, his 13th Light Horse Regiment as part of Fifth Division, was near Armentières on its way to Ypres. Perhaps a young soldier fresh from a battle on the Somme and wondering if he'll make it to age 21, has seized the opportunity for a break and gone AWL, possibly even looking up someone he'd met when he was there 12 months earlier.

Armentières clearly meant something to Tom. In later years, family have said he would go around whistling 'Mademoiselle from Armentières'. And his wife Irene 'Sis' it quoted as saying 'One of his girl friends was Mademoiselle from Armentieres', and 'His face lights up when you mention those places'. And Tom's response: 'I should think it would, l was young then'.10,8,16
Bacchus Marsh Avenue of Honour
In August 1918, the Avenue of Honour was formed when 281 elm trees were planted by the Bacchus Marsh community as a tribute to local service people. The tree planted for Tom Phillips can been seen in the 1990s photo below.

The plaques were timber, about 3" high by 12" long with a metal plate at the top where the name was engraved. They were held to the tree by a metal band, which would would have had to be loosened as the tree grew.

Generations of relatives, including Tom's children, grandchildren and neices, visited the Avenue of Honour to see the plaque.

In 1998, some of the now 80 year old trees were cut down as they were deemed unsafe. One of the first to go was that of Trooper T J Phillips. An article from The Age newspaper describes the story. A photo from 2010 shows the replanted tree, and son Laurie visited in 2013.19,20,21
Tania & Keith Blythman, TJ Phillips's tree, Bacchus Marsh Avenue of Honour, 1990s
Image: Lesley Blythman
Image: The Age Online Pty Ltd
TJ Phillips's tree, Bacchus Marsh Avenue of Honour, Mar 2010
Image: Peter Phillips
Laurie Phillips, TJ Phillips's tree, Bacchus Marsh Avenue of Honour, Dec 2013
Image: Peter Phillips
After his discharge, Tom headed to Swan Hill to look for work. He worked at the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission at Nyah and played football for Nyah Diggers for two seasons before the Soldiers' Clubrooms were opened and Tom was chosen as manager. He also met local girl Irene McDonald there.
Marriage and Family
Irene Gladys McDonald and Thomas James Phillips were married at St Monica's Roman Catholic church in Essendon on 9 September 1922. Tom was 25 and Sis was 19 (the registration shows 20) and she was married 'with the written consent of Donald Glenorchy McDonald, father of the bride'. They had six children.

Sis stayed for a time at the home of Tom's sister, Teresa (Tess) O'Loughlin at 5 Glen St, Essendon as they prepared for the marriage, and this is her 'usual address' on the marriage registration. Tom was Catholic, but Sis was not, so Tess and her family helped with her conversion to Catholicism. Witnesses to the marriage were John and Mary Phillips, Tom's brother and sister.22,3
Tom & Sis Phillips, Sep 1922
Image: Nene Courtie
Doris 'Nene' McDonald, Tom & Irene 'Sis' Phillips (McDonald), Jack Phillips, Sep 1922
Image: Lesley Blythman
Tess could not make scones: Once when Tom Phillips was visiting Tess he said 'Let's have a game of cricket'. When told they didn't have a ball, he said 'That's ok, we can use one of Tess's scones'.23
Around the time of the marriage, Tom took Sis and Nene to visit his parents in Bacchus Marsh. According to Nene, Ellen was nice, but John was 'a bit grumpy'.24
Maude St Home 
First child Jack was born in Shepparton in March 1923. The 1924 electoral roll shows Tom Phillips at 46 Maude St, but does not show Sis; she may not have reached the voting age of 21. It is probable this is where they lived when Jack was born.25
Nixon St and Swallow St Homes 
In July 1924, 62 Nixon St was offered for sale and Tom bought it.

Second son Reg was born in Ascot Vale in Melbourne in August 1924. While it is not known why Reg was born in Melbourne, a possible reason he wasn't born in Shepparton is that the new house wasn't ready.

Third son, Laurence Lloyd arrived in 1925. At this time, according to the birth registration and electoral roll, the family was living at 7 Swallow St. As the rate books still show Tom as owner of the Nixon St house, perhaps it was being renovated for the new arrival, or expanded to accomodate the growing family at the time.26,27,28,29
Nixon St Home Revisited 
In March 1928, Tom put the Nixon St house up for sale. It was advertised as having six rooms (one more than when purchased in 1924), bathroom, washhouse and electric light. Terms were half cash, £100 in six months, balance in 30 months and 6½ per cent interest. It wasn't sold.

Between 1924 and 1931, the address (in the Shepparton rates or electoral roll) is 62 Nixon St. From 1933 to 1937, it is 16 Nixon St. They didn't move, this was due to streets being renumbered.

The youngest three children, Rene, Don and Brian, were born while the family was in the Nixon St home. All six children spent some of their time growing up in Nixon St, though for the youngest Brian, not very long.30,31,32,28,33
Children's Catholic Education
The five oldest children went to St Brendan's primary school in Shepparton. Around 1936, Jack and Reg went to Assumption College in Kilmore where they boarded. Laurie followed a couple of years later. Jack and Laurie also spent a year or two at Sacred Heart College in Shepparton.
Reg, Jack, Laurie, Don & Rene Phillips, c. 1934
Image: Rene Barnes
Back: Reg & Laurie; front: Rene, Brian & Don Phillips, c. 1937
Image: Rene Barnes
Billiard Saloons
Tom Phillips operated billiard rooms in High St. Opened in February 1923, Tom and his brother Joe, with several other assistants, operated the billiard saloon for about 15 years.34,35,36
At the time of his 1933 marriage, Joe gave his occupation as manager. He was probably running one of his brother Tom's billiard saloons in High St.37
Billiard saloon robbed: Tom Phillips's billiard room break-in 1939.38
There was talk of Tom once playing Walter Lindrum in an exhibition snooker match because no one else would play him. Walter Lindrum's first visit to Shepparton was in October 1937.36
Hank the Yank and Helping Others
From the mid-1930s, Tom had 'fruit machines' or 'one armed bandits' (early poker machines) installed at several places around town, including his billiard rooms and the Pine Lodge Hotel. They were owned by someone known as 'Hank the Yank'. They took threepence or sixpence and extremely popular. Hank had machines through South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales and did very well from them. When drinking at the hotel he would shout drinks to everyone at the bar for an hour or more at a time. Tom also did very well from them.34,39
During the war, Tom bought a 1938 Studebaker 'President' from Hank the Yank. This became the family car and was used on holidays.34
Sis Phillips in the 1938 Studebaker 'President', possibly Brian & Don at the rear window, possibly Jack & Reg on the running board
Image: Laurie & Lorraine Phillips
Tom Phillips and his 1938 Studebaker 'President' convertible, c. 1940
Margaret Sellwood (Lee) remembers Tom & Sis Phillips visiting Beatrice and the family in a big flash American car (the Studebaker) when they lived in Lake Boga. She was about five years old and commented that 'It was like they were from another world'.40
When after a couple of years the fruit machines became illegal, Hank the Yank lost all his income, but Tom used his to invest in other ventures. And Tom was encouraged to help others financially in the same way Hank the Yank had helped him.

Over the years he helped Dinny Dooley with a bakery in Numurkah; Harry Williams did the books while staying at the Hotel Australia; he helped raise money for boxing, supporting well known and successful boxer Max Carlos whose mother-in-law, May Jones, worked at the Hotel Australia. He also helped Jack Connors with a barber shop and 'Socks' Elliot with a restaurant venture.

Tom paid for hall hire for local fundraisers, or provided beer at working bees.41,39,34,42,16
One day there was a knock at the door of the Hotel Australia which Jack answered - someone wanted to see Tom. Jack asked later who it was and what he wanted. Tom said it was Hank the Yank and that he asked for £200. When Jack asked if he gave it to him, Tom said yes and that if he'd asked for £500 he would have given him that too. Tom said the money he received from running the machines had set him up.34,39

Pine Lodge Hotel
Tom's hotel era began when he bought the Pine Lodge Hotel in Shepparton East for £2500. The property was purchased in late 1937 from Hector McGregor and consisted of two parts, the hotel on 1.5 acres and an additional 8 acres of land. The licence was transferred to Tom from Hector G McGregor in January 1938. He held the licence for two years until it was transferred to JF Carra on 31 January 1940. Shepparton rates show Tom still as owner in 1941.16,43,44,45,46,47
Working bee in Shepparton East, Tom Phillips next to his niner of beer, JGB McDonald MP reclining front right, c. 1939
Image: Rene Barnes
Working bee in Shepparton East, Tom Phillips next to his niner of beer, JGB McDonald MP reclining front right, c. 1939
Image: Rene Barnes
Tom would never let a man go thirsty:

Admitted They Were Thirsty
Police Raid Hotels

He 'had never heard such a lot of honest explanations in his life' smilingly remarked Mr PV Feltham, solicitor for the defence at the Court of Petty Sessions, Shepparton yesterday, when 14 men were charged with having been on hotel premises on a Sunday, and Thomas James Phillips, the licensee, was charged with having disposed of the liquor on that day.

Mr Feltham asked Mr Mohr, PM, to take the season into consideration. It was a very unkind arrangement for New Year's Eve to fall on a Sunday! Mr Phillips was about to sever his connection with the Pine Lodge Hotel.

Most of the men frankly admitted having had drinks - it was 4.45 o'clock in the afternoon and they were thirsty. One man had stated that he ran out of petrol and entered the hotel to obtain some. Another said he had accompanied this man.

First Constable Buchan described how he with First Constable Wilson and Constable Harrington had raided the Pine Lodge Hotel on that day, and found Phillips serving from the cupboard.

As the defendant had been frank, Inspector De La Rue, who prosecuted, withdrew the charge against Phillips of having had persons on his premises in prohibited hours. On the disposal charge Phillips was fined £4. Each man found on the premises was fined 10/.48,47,46

Pine Lodge Hotel, Shepparton East, c. 1929
Image: Lost Shepparton, Facebook
The family had their first taste of what life could be like while living in a pub, when they moved into the Pine Lodge Hotel in Shepparton East in 1938.

The three older boys were boarding at Assumption College in Kilmore, returning three times a year during school holidays. At home they lived in an old cable car under the peppercorn tree. In summer the mosquitoes were so bad they burned cow pats to keep them away.49,50,51
Brian O'Neill (friend) & Brian Phillips, cable car bedroom, Pine Lodge Hotel, Shepparton East, c. 1939
Image: Rene Barnes
While at the hotel, Rene and Don went to the nearby Shepparton East school. Brian had not yet started school.

There were cigarette machines at the Shepp East hotel. You put sixpence in for a chance at getting a pack of ten cigarettes. At one stage the lads and I tipped one of the machines upside down to get at the cigarettes. [Jack Phillips]

While Tom was busy running the business, it was also a very busy time for Sis. As well as looking after the children and the usual domestic duties, she also worked the bar and kitchen. There was also a lot of night trading, which hotelkeepers had to do to survive in the days of six o'clock closing. Despite all this, Sis found time to be involved with the Shepparton East branch of the Country Women's Association.50,49,34
Sis Phillips and Effie Lee were cousins. Around 1939, Effie stayed with Sis and the family at the Pine Lodge Hotel where Tom found work for her. Effie greatly enjoyed being with Tom, Sis and the three youngest children, Rene, Don and Brian (the oldest three were at boarding school in Kilmore). The camera recorded an occasion when they all dressed up a day at the Shepparton Show.

There were two Albanians known as Sam and Louie who did work for Tom and lived at the back of the hotel. They made a necklace with intricate beadwork for Rene and another for Effie. Rene still had her necklace 80 years later.52,53,21
Don, Rene, Brian & Irene Sis (McDonald) Phillips, & Effie Lee, c. 1939
Image: Rene Barnes
Sis Phillips (McDonald) & Effie Lee, c. 1939
Image: Rene Barnes
Don, Rene & Brian Phillips, c. 1939
Image: Rene Barnes
Rene Barnes (Phillips) & Effie Lee wearing necklaces made by Albanians Sam & Louie while at the Pine Lodge Hotel, Shepparton East, c. 1939
Image: Peter Phillips
Tom loved to get out into the garden at the Pine Lodge hotel, though he rarely got the chance. When someone came up and asked him where Tom Phillips was, he would tell them he was the yardman and send them inside. When they went inside and asked for Tom, they'd be told he was outside!53
Tom Phillips, an orchard in Shepparton East, c. 1939. Back of photo: 'Lest We Forget'
Image: Rene Barnes
Other Early Hotel Interests
After they sold the Pine Lodge Hotel, Tom was involved in a number of ventures. Over the next few years, Tom was connected with the Court House Hotel in Wyndham St, the Cricketer's Arms in Mooroopna, the Junction Hotel in Toolamba, the Stanley Hotel near Beechworth and the Telegraph Hotel in Numurkah.34,16
Bread, Brothers, Barbers and Bookmaking
On arrival in Shepparton soon after his 1922 marriage, Tom worked as a bread deliverer. It is not known who he worked for or whether his work was linked to being a baker before the war.

Tom worked closely with his brother Joe over many years, and his brother Danny for a few years early on.35
Danny ran the hairdressing part of the billiard saloons. And in 1937, Tom described himself as a hairdresser and tobacconist, with Danny cutting the hair. The shop was next to the Shepparton Hotel in Wyndham St. Danny was later a barber in Tatura.54,16
Tom and Joe worked very closely together in their business ventures. In November 1939, after Tom had moved out of billard saloons and into hotels, Joe took over the billiard table licence for the High St saloon where he had been working as a billiard marker.

Two years after Tom sold his interest in the Pine Lodge Hotel in Shepparton East, Joe's wife Vera took over the licence. Vera had a cleaner police record than Joe. She took the licence over from Amelia Mildred Mitchell in February 1943, and two years later it was transferred to Arthur William Mammen.55,56,57
Tom Phillips, Ida McLean & Joe Phillips
Image: Eileen Redden
Tom was one of six boys. All except Jim were at some stage involved in illegal ('SP' or 'starting price') or legal bookmaking activities, with ideal venues being billiard saloons, barbers and pubs.34
Tom Phillips fined 1926.58
Gaming raid at Shepparton: Police raid Tom Phillips's billiard saloon 1936.59
Sis's Major Lung Operation 
Around 1940, Sis had a major operation in which one lung was removed. It came about suddenly following a haemorrhage. Sis was taken from Shepparton to a hospital in East Melbourne, possibly St Vincents or St Ives, where the operation took place.

The three eldest boys, Jack, Reg and Laurie were at Assumption College in Kilmore at the time. One day at morning rosary the Brothers announced to everyone that the boys' mother was about to have a serious operation and that they should all say a few prayers for them.

The family rallied around to help. Sis's mum came up from Melbourne to help look after Rene, Don & Brian. Tom's sister Eileen came up from near Bacchus Marsh. Sis spent time recovering at the home of her sister-in-law Tess in Essendon. And her sister Bub helped out with the kids and housework when Sis returned home.60,61,62
Orr Street Home
Tom bought the weatherboard residence at 77 Orr St from Mr Ben Seth in July 1941, though the family likely lived there earlier.63
Between moving out of the Pine Lodge Hotel in early 1940 and into the Orr St home, the family lived in a house in Nixon St, near Harold St.

Tom was then involved in a number of business ventures including the Court House Hotel, where Sis also worked for a while.

When they bought the Hotel Australia, they kept the Orr St house which the whole family called home for several more months. And years later, two sons lived there after they married.64,65,50
Tom & Sis Phillips, 77 Orr St, Shepparton, c. 1942
Image: Laurie & Lorraine Phillips
Back: Sis Phillips, Val Irwin; front: Brian, Don & Rene Phillips, 77 Orr St, Shepparton, c. 1942
Image: Laurie & Lorraine Phillips
Rene Phillips (with dog), unknown, Sis (Irene) Phillips, 77 Orr St, Shepparton, c. 1942
Image: Suzanne Cheshire
Hotel Australia Business
Six months before the end of World War II, the Phillips family's connection with Hotel Australia began with a three year lease from Greg, Molly, Madge and Pos Dunne, with an option to purchase. This option was exercised in 1948 for £50,000 pounds.16
Hotel Australia, Shepparton c. 1950
Hotel changes hands
At the annual sitting of the Licensing court in Shepparton today application by Thomas James Phillips for transfer of the licence of the Hotel Australia was approved by Mr Campton, who occupied the bench.

The Australia is owned by Mr GP Dunne and his three sisters, a family which has been engaged in the hotel trade for about 30 years.

To questions from the bench, Ins. Herbert said that the Australia had previously had a good house trade, but it had become lax. He had warned the licensee about three months ago that he had received complaints of refusals to provide accommodation and unless there was an improvement he would report the matter to the court.

Mr Campton (to Phillips): Do you intend to re-establish the house trade? - I do. I have a staff of five girls and expect a chef tomorrow.

If you keep to the same standard as the Court House Hotel you will be all right.

Ins. Herbert: Having regard to the experience of the applicant there will be plenty of scope for him. The house has been neglected and the business confined to the bar trade. I have no hesitation in recommending the transfer.

All applications for renewals of licences were granted.66

Tom Phillips applied to the Department of Trade & Customs to have his beer quota increased around 1945. When quotas were introduced, they were based on Dunnes' dwindling beer sales the previous year, and Tom was always running out.67
Hotel Australia Home 
Hotel Australia, Shepparton c. 1950
For a more comprehensive account of the Phillips family's time at the Hotel Australia, see House of Phillips.

Although the family's official commencement at the Hotel Australia was November 1944, Tom and Sis still lived at Orr St for several months before moving. Sis was keen to move in but Tom insisted that her sister Bub would need to help out first.

At the time, Jack, Reg and Laurie were about 21, 20 and 19. Jack and Reg were serving in the Second World War and Laurie was about to do the same. Rene was about 15, Don 13 and Brian 8, and so were still at school.

Jack, Reg and Laurie moved into the hotel as they returned from the war, so Jack around February 1946, Reg March 1946 and Laurie January 1948.65,53
May Jones was officially the laundress, but she was also an excellent cook. She used to give regular cook Mrs Chatterton the day off on a Wednesday. Everyone, Phillips family and long-term residents, looked forward to Wednesday night, when her fricassee of lamb, braised steak and onions and all sorts of other delicacies were so good they had trouble deciding which to have.

The 'Cupboard' was a small room under the stairwell where after hours drinking would occur, often well into the night. Unfortunately for Sis, the stairwell was near their bedroom causing many a disrupted sleep.53
Time Gentlemen, Please!: At about 6:10 pm the head barman in the main bar would shout 'Time gentlemen, please!', meaning it was time to drink up as the bar was about to close. After everyone shuffled out, there would be a tap-tap-tap on the front door with a coin, and the hardier ones would sneak in again and meet in the 'Cupboard' to continue drinking. The drinkers would be from all walks of life, including cops. Tom recalls times when it seemed like there were a hundred blokes in there - it was packed and noisy.68
Rene recalls: When the drinkers got a bit rowdy while drinking late at night in the 'Cupboard', Sis would drop a little soap into one of their pots. She said 'you get to be a pretty good shot after a while'.69,53
The family's living arrangements changed as the children married. Reg was first to wed, marrying Madge in March 1948, and they lived in the Orr St home. In 1952 they returned to the hotel with baby Michael and stayed until soon after Susan was born in 1953, when they moved into their newly constructed home in Maude St.

Rene was second to marry, and in 1952 moved to Warrnambool with new husband Keith Barnes.

Laurie closely followed Rene, when later in 1951 he married Lorraine and they moved into a home in Maude St.

Jack married Cass in 1952 and they moved into the Orr St home, prompting Reg and Madge to return to the hotel.53
Don and Marion married in 1958 and initiially moved out. They made the hotel their home around 1964 and remained there with sons Trevor and Paul until around 1973.

Brian and Maureen married in 1968 and daughter Peta was born when they lived in the hotel. The three moved out around 1972.
When Don and his family moved out around 1973, it marked the first time Tom, now in his early seventies and Sis, in her late sixties, had no immediate family living with them.
Alex Plant, Marion Phillips (Plant), Don, Sis & Tom Phillips, Mar 1958
Image: Trevor Phillips Photographics
Brian, Maureen (McMahon), Tom & Irene 'Sis' (McDonald) Phillips, Feb 1968
Image: Beth Phillips
When Doc Kennedy visited Tom when he was crook, he'd take a bottle of Scotch upstairs with him. When asked on his return a few hours later how Tom was, Doc would say 'he was in good spirits when I saw him'.53
In at least the last ten years at the hotel, Tom and Sis would head up north in winter to the Broadbeach Hotel in Queensland for a holiday and to escape the cold.

In 1979, the Phillips family sold any interest in the Hotel Australia, and Tom and Sis moved out. Tom was 82 and Sis was 76.53,16
Hotel Australia Work 
All six children worked at the Hotel Australia, though probably only the five boys were paid. Jack, Reg and Laurie began working soon after they returned from the war. Tom had developed heart problems when serving in the First World War and so had limited physical abiliy. And Sis was limited having had a lung removed a few years earlier.
All five sons worked at the bar at some stage.

Jack worked at the hotel from early 1946 until it was sold in September 1979. He ran the saloon bar off Maude St, later named 'Jack's Bar'. He also did the banking.

Reg worked there from early 1947 until early 1955.

Laurie worked there from early 1948 until about 1963. He also collected the beer from the railway station.

Don worked there from around 1951 until it was sold. He gradually became more involved with the running of the hotel. Wife Marion ran the functions and weddings.

Brian worked there from about 1954 until it was sold. He also collected the beer from the railway station after Laurie left. Wife Maureen ran the functions and weddings for six months while Marion and the family were on holiday.

Particularly in the early years, Jack, Reg and Laurie were good for business as they brought their football teammates back for a beer after the game.70,71
Reg Phillips working the cash register
Image: Madge Phillips
Sis Phillips on the end, Brian Phillips next to her, Hotel Australia bar, post-1966
Image: Trevor Phillips
Bill Condon, racing expert: The Phillips boys perpetrated many pranks on former Shepparton News reporter and later Sporting Globe racing expert Bill Condon. He raced to more hoax 'fatals' at his peril, and went out to see more gelded sires than any other newsman in known history. Yet for all his naivety, he was still a brilliant journalist, according to the boys.16
Tiny Moylan and the cellar: One night, locksmith genius, wag and trick cyclist Leo 'Tiny' Moylan, the only man who could ride a bike down Mt Major backwards mounted on the handlebars, rode into the cellar in the 'snake pit' before a crowd of patrons crying with laughter.16
In the late 1940s, the post-war beer shortage eased and the limitations of the small main bar became evident. The billiard and meeting room on Maude St was converted into a saloon bar to be run by Jack with most of the others also working there at some stage. It became so popular it was made two to three times longer in the early 1950s.

Jack's Bar, as it became known, developed a reputation for its hijinks. Events included racing Trevor and Paul's bikes around the bar which sometimes resulted in minor injuries and often required the bikes to be fixed the next morning so the kids could get to school.72,70,73,74

As the dust settled and they gradually dared raise their heads, it was apparent that someone had shot the telly in Jack's bar. The patrons had been on at Jack for years to replace the old black and white TV with a colour one, but he'd always refuse.

'Only need black and white!'

Being a mad keen Collingwood supporter, this was Jack's usual response. His mate Brian 'Ned' McDonald, who was also a barman there, had forced the issue in emphatic fashion with the use of his shotgun.

The patrons were very happy with their new colour telly.
There were lots of characters like Ned McDonald and Ron Higgins who enjoyed the different atmosphere Jack and the family had created in the saloon bar. Many became lifelong family friends.

The Phillips family returned to the saloon bar in March 2013 for a family reunion. This coincided with the renaming of Jack's Bar and with Jack's 90th birthday. Jack Phillips died a year later on his 91st birthday.
Jack's Bar 2014
Jack's Bar 2014
The hotel business also included accommodation and functions. Functions varied through formal, entertainment and sporting.
Can Can Cabaret, Hotel Australia, c. 1960
Image: Lost Shepparton, Facebook
The Can-Can during French night at the Hotel Australia with Tom and Sis Phillips
Don Phillips, Hotel Australia handball competition
Laurie Phillips, Blair McKay (Shepparton RSL president), Tom Phillips, Sir Rohan Delacombe (Governor of Victoria), RSL function, Hotel Australia, Oct 1963
Image: Lesley Blythman
TJ Phillips & Sons
When Tom leased the Hotel Australia from Dunnes in November 1944 for £25 a week, there were no partners in the business.

Tom Phillips and his family purchased the Hotel Australia in mid-1948. The lease had included an option to purchase and by 1948 Dunnes were finally persuaded to sell. In August 1948, Tom's licence was transferred to the new partnership of TJ Phillips & Sons. This partnership consisted of Tom and the three eldest sons, Jack, Reg and Laurie.

The first half of 1955 saw major changes in the company structure. In April 1955, they formed a proprietary limited company consisting of Tom, Sis, Jack, Laurie, Don and 19 year old Brian. Reg took his share from the earlier partnership to persue other business ventures. Sis was now a shareholder in the company for the first time, as were Don and Brian. Between them, Tom and Sis had a small majority share holding. Tom was nominee in the new company and Jack was company secretary. In 1963, an allotment of shares to Reg meant all five boys were shareholders simultaneously for the first time.

In 1977, the Hotel Australia purchased the Goulburn Valley Winery in Vaughan St.

By 1979, Tom and some of the family were ready to leave the business, though others were keen to continue.

Tom Phillips poured his last beer in September 1979, and the Hotel Australia licence was transferred from TJ Phillips & Sons to Biltel Hotels Pty Ltd.

TJ Phillips & Sons was liquidated in November 1981.76,70,77
Tom was inaugural president of the Shepparton Jockey Club and a foundation member of the Goulburn Valley Trotting Club.16
1 - The Gatekeepers. 2 - Harry Mitchell with Mr and Mrs Alan Stuart. 3 - Section of crowd. 4 - The start of a race. 5 - Harry Williams, local bookmaker. 6 - The starter, Mr E Ryan of Wangaratta. 7 - Mr JV Shea, Stipe. 8 - Dick Lee of Mooroopna. 9 - Miss Margaret Harrington with Miss Joy Doonan. 10 Mrs Wannemacher Snr and Jnr of Numurkah. 11 - President of Shep Jockey Club, Tom Phillips (second from right) with members of committee. 12 - Mrs TJ Phillips waits for hubby, the busy president. 13 - The day is over and everyone has had a barrel of fun. Dec 1948
Image: Shepparton Advertiser
He later had an interest in several race horses, his favourites probably being Miss Latta and the New Zealand mare, Khorion. Khorion was originally raced as a trotter, but later with Sis and son Laurie, they bred thoroughbreds with modest success.53,79
Tom Phillips (possibly with Miss Latta)
Image: Rene Barnes
Tom's good friend Doc Kennedy was president of the trotting club. One time Tom, Sis and Doc Kennedy visited Keith and Rene while down for the Warrnambool races. One night Keith, Tom and Doc Kennedy went out to get the main course while Rene and Sis prepared the vegies and the rest of the meal. After sitting at the table for ages waiting for the boys to return, Sis and Rene finally gave up and decided they may as well go to bed!53,72
Hotels and horse racing made for interesting bedfellows. At one time, in late 1947, trucks loaded with beer destined for a race meeting at Shepparton broke down at Seymour. Tom cancelled the race meeting and was quoted in the papers at the time as saying 'it would have been no good running a meeting without beer'.80
No beer, so the races were called off 1947: Tom Phillips calls off Shepparton races due to beer supply problem.80
And in 1968, a close shave with the gaming squad utimately resulted in a $50 donation to the Richmond footy club, the president of which, Ray Dunn, was the defence lawyer who appeared for Tom and secured an acquittal.81
Tom Phillips explains: 'Mum's the word. But you might remember 'Little Sport' (his brother Joe) and I had a slight mishap on the premises the day the flying squad [police gaming squad] comes through looking for SP bookies and catch us red-handed. Well we have to front Georgie Catlow, the beak, but Ray Dunn appears for us and duly gets us off as always. After we all have dinner together back home at the Australia Mr Dunn says, 'Well, TJ, you'd better put in 50 bucks to the footy club and whatever you think's a fair thing to me.' That's how you see that in the Richmond annual report.'
[Other notable donors are Sir Robert Menzies, Jim Cairns, Arthur Caldwell & Senator Kennelly. Ray Dunn was club president, club solicitor and was on two committees. George Catlow was a magistrate and Tom Phillips had lunch with him every Friday.]
Later Years 
Tom and Sis had 31 grandchildren, though one died as an infant.
Sis Phillips with Lesley Barnes, Tom Phillips with Warren Barnes, c. 1954
Image: Lesley Blythman
Catherine Phillips & Irene 'Sis' Phillips (McDonald), rear Hotel Australia, c. 1954
Image: Catherine Wayman
Back: Sis Phillips, Rene Barnes, Catherine Phillips, Warren, Maree & Kevin Barnes, John Phillips, Lesley Barnes with Ellen Barnes; front: Tony Barnes?, Paul Phillips, Tom Phillips?, Trevor Phillips, Adrian Barnes, Brendan Phillips?; Reg & Madge's pool, Maude St, Shepparton, c. 1966
Image: Lesley Blythman
Robyn (obscured), Kerri, Madge, Chris, Reg, Reg, Will, Jane & Tom Phillips
Image: Rene Barnes
Sis & Tom Phillips (50th wedding anniversary), Nene Courtie, Jack Phillips, Ellen Barnes (front), 1972
Image: Lesley Blythman
Sis & Tom Phillips with granddaughter Peta Phillips, c. 1969
Image: Beth Phillips
Tom & Sis Phillips at their 50th wedding anniversary with great-granddaughter Tania Blythman, 1972
Image: Lesley Blythman
Sis Phillips, possibly with Nicole Wayman, Karen Phillips (back), Tom Phillips with Keith Blythman, Tania Blythman (standing), Nov 1973
Image: Nene Courtie
Sis, Karen & Tom Phillips, Nicole Wayman (possibly) with Sis, Keith Blythman with Tom, Tania Blythman (standing), Nov 1973
Image: Lesley Blythman
Sis & Tom Phillips with great-granddaughter Rhiana Barnes, c. 1979
Image: Lesley Blythman
Sis (Irene) Phillips with great-granddaughter Rhiana Barnes, c. 1979
Image: Lesley Blythman
Tom Phillips with great-granddaughter Rhiana Barnes, 1979
Image: Rene Barnes
Nene with Sara Murray, Sis with Kate Murray, c. 1987
Image: Lesley Blythman
After moving out of the Hotel Australia in 1979, Tom and Sis moved into a unit in Corio St.

Tom had heart problems and was diagnosed with rectal cancer.

Thomas James Phillips died of heart failure at Unit 3, 103 Corio St in Shepparton on 8 December 1980, aged 83. He was buried at Pine Lodge cemetery, Shepparton East on 10 December 1980.83,4
Graves of Tom and Sis Phillips, Pine Lodge Cemetery, Shepparton East


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