Hides Hotel

Military accommodation

87 Lake Street, Cairns 4870

The name is a Cairns institution, with a Hides' Hotel being part of the social fabric of the city since 1885. The present building has served for eight decades as a substantial first-class, three-storey, masonry hotel. During World War II the building was taken over for use as short-term accommodation for newly-arrived or visiting Australian and US officers, and General Douglas MacArthur is said to have stayed overnight at the hotel while on a visit to Cairns.


The reinforced concrete hotel was constructed in two stages for the O'Hara family, who were well-known Cairns publicans. It was erected alongside the first Hides' Cairns Hotel and for nearly four decades the two buildings functioned together as Hides' Hotel.

The present hotel is a product of a period of intensive building activity which took place in Cairns in the 1920s associated with the expansion of the town as a port servicing new soldier-settlement farming area in the hinterland and on the Atherton Tableland. Other factors included the upgrading of Cairns to city status in 1923 and its establishment as the terminus of the coastal railway to Brisbane in 1924. Reconstruction works after extensive cyclone damage to the central business area of the city in the early and mid-1920s, favoured the use of reinforced concrete as a building material.

Work commenced on the new Hides' Cairns Hotel in 1928. At the time of construction it was one of the largest buildings in Cairns. The original scheme was for full frontages to Shields and Lake Streets and by 1936 the original concept was completed with the addition of shops at ground level and bedrooms above along Shields Street. In the 1930s Hides' was pre-eminent amongst Cairns hotels, catering largely to visitors and Cairns 'society'. After being used for military accommodation during World War II the hotel was returned to the O'Hara family who retained the property until 1946, when it was acquired by Burns Philp and Company who held the title until 1976.


Pearce, Howard (contributing author).

Hides Hotel, Queensland Heritage Register place 600382, Brisbane.

Howard Pearce (Ed.). Heritage Trails of the Tropical North: A heritage tour guide to far north Queensland, Environmental Protection Agency, Brisbane, 2001.

Howard Pearce. WWII: NQ: A cultural heritage overview of significant places in the defence of north Queensland during World War II. Environmental Protection Agency, Brisbane, 2009.