Australia Hotel, Sydney, Australia
The Australia Hotel in Castlereagh Street, Sydney, was until its closure on 30 June 1971, "the best-known hotel in Australia", "the premier hotel in Sydney" and described itself as "The Hotel of the Commonwealth". Situated in one of Sydney's important thoroughfares in the heart of the city, the foundation stone was laid by Sir Henry Parkes in 1889, and the opening of the new establishment was performed two years later by Sarah Bernhardt, whose name was first in the new hotel's register, subsequently displayed in a glass showcase in the main foyer. The Sydney Morning Herald reported "French actress Sarah Bernhardt arrived in Sydney, bringing with her 100 pieces of luggage. As hundreds of fans flooded onto Redfern railway platform as her train approached, she was whisked away from the platform to the Australia Hotel where hundreds more excited fans wanted to catch a glimpse of the glamorous celebrity. Her expensive flower filled 2nd floor suite played host to pets including a large St Bernard, a smaller pug dog, a native bear and several cages containing possums and parrots. Theatergoers, many of whom had paid up to £2 for a seat, were genuinely moved by Mme Bernhardt's performance in Dumas' La Dame aux Camillias at Her Majesty's Theatre. After the show, drama critics called her a 'woman of genius' saying she had held the audience spell bound."
Next to the hotel, across Rowe Street, stood the famous Theatre Royal.