The Todd Tavern has gone by many names over the years, but as it stands, this local treasure remains the oldest hotel pub in Alice Springs.
The pub today stills pays homage to its history, with the Riverside pub, Mona’s bar, Maxims bistro all being throwbacks to its predecessors. Originally called the Riverside Hotel, then the Desert Inn Hotel, now the Todd Tavern, the space has always been loved by locals and holds a rich history in its walls.
A little bit of History...
The pub itself first opened in 1959, built under the direction of Mona Minahan who ran the place with love until ‘74.
The story of Todd Tavern can’t be told without mentioning the woman who started it all. Mona was an entrepreneur of her time, well loved by the town and truly committed to adding her touch to it. Aside from the pub, Mona played a key role in growing Alice Springs into the thriving social hub and cultivator of small business we know it as today.
A bit about Mona...
Mona, like so many Alice Springs staples, came up with the intention of just staying a couple of weeks, visiting a friend. It was 1931, and when she pulled in on the train, she wanted to go straight back home again, not liking the look of the place at all. She was soon won over though by the fact that she was able to ride her horse wherever she pleased, the lifestyle and the people adding to the reasons to love Alice Springs. She was still here 40 years later having achieved a huge amount both personally and for the improvement of Alice Springs as a whole.
She opened her own store in Alice after being frustrated at the lack of womens goods available in town. Being a woman of initiative, she took this as an opportunity to provide for the towns demand herself. Her general store was greatly successful, with her competitors moving closer to keep an eye on her.
Not fussed by money, she helped a number of businesses get themselves off the ground through loans and advice from her own experience. Some of them paid her back, some didn’t.
Mona was responsible for starting the first Tennis club in Alice.
She built three golf courses in town (perhaps a bit different to the one we know today).
The Minahan Medal to this day, is an award that is given in local the AFL competition for the fairest and most brilliant player.
And then she built the most loved pub in town! To which we all owe her our gratitude.
Beyond the years of Mona’s reign, the Todd Tavern has seen many river flows and even a flood. It has welcomed travellers and locals alike, putting on some of the most incredible Christmas spreads and hosting all of the historical names of Alice whose ongoing generations are still the pillars of this town.
In 1974 the tavern got a complete overhaul, renovated inside and out, to give it more of the traditional outback charm that it is so well known for now.
The TODD Tavern...
The Todd Tavern bears its current name from the mighty river that it neighbours. The Todd River. The Indigenous Arrernte people know this river as Lhere Mparntwe (pronounced ler-ra m-barn-twa).
The Todd River begins in the catchment on Bond Springs Station. It then flows past the Telegraph Station and almost through the centre of Alice Springs, through Heavitree Gap at the southern end of Alice Springs and continues on for some distance. It passes through the western part of the Simpson Desert, as it becomes a tributary of the Hale River, eventually flowing into Lake Eyre in South Australia.
The Todd runs on for about 50km, its catchment area around 445 square km.
Heavy rainfalls to the north of Alice Springs will cause the river to start flowing through town around 6 to 8 hours later. The river can change from its normal dry bed to a bank-to-bank flow within a matter of 15 minutes.
The Todd Tavern is as true to the core of Alice Springs as the river that runs alongside it. It is a place for locals to reminisce over, travellers to feel the true Outback experience. It is a place of good old fashioned hospitality, comradery and The Alice spirit.