The historic pubs of O’Connell Street by night

O’Connell Street

By Em Worthington

O’Connell lights up!

It’s home to some of the most beautiful and historic hotels in South Australia, so we’re set to shine a light (or two!) on O’Connell Street, North Adelaide.

From Friday 9 September, City of Adelaide launched the historic pubs of O’Connell by night, switching on from 6:00 pm each night until Sunday 9 October 2022. This decorative lighting installation showcases four of O’Connell Street’s most beautiful and loved heritage pubs in North Adelaide — The Caledonian Hotel, The Royal Oak, The Oxford and The Archer — bringing them to life with colourful and moving light displays and projection.

We’re thrilled you’ve been drawn to these iconic venues, with the ambient light guiding you on an evening stroll down beautiful O’Connell Street. Now, let’s explore together…

First stop – The Archer

60 O’Connell Street, North Adelaide

Back in the day

Back in 1849, this iconic pub was launched as the Hunstman Hotel (and sometimes known as the Huntsman's Hotel), before Hotel Australia took over the licence in 1960. The building has lived many lives, being used as the Lutheran Church Library, offices, a bank and a radio station until it opened as the Archer Hotel you know and love in 2003.


Just a stone’s throw from Adelaide Oval, The Archer is a popular stop for drinks or a top-quality pub meal before a game. In 2003, the heritage building was given a new lease on life with a renovation including a modern bar, open beer garden and revamped interior. And while some things have changed, others remain — it’s still the laid-back pub where you’re guaranteed to get a top-quality pub classic or modern seasonal dish that’s filled with seasonal produce. It’s also home to the biggest balcony in North Adelaide, is popular for hosting special events and celebrations, and houses a stunning Library, with large oil paintings and an extensive range of books on show. There’s so much to enjoy in The Archer, and so much to discover behind her beautiful walls.

The Acrher Old SLCR B 10732

THE ARCHER ON 5 November 1941 (PHOTO: State Library Catalogue Reference: B 70506)

Second stop – The Oxford Hotel

101 O’Connell Street, North Adelaide

Back in the day

Way back 1859, the Princess Royal Hotel Perched on the north-west corner of O'Connell Street and Tynte Street. Then, in 1884, it was the pub was rebuilt and unveiled as The Oxford Hotel. Over the years, it’s undergone several changes, while retaining its historic character.


You’re always welcomed like a friend when you visit The Oxford. Whether you come from near or far, you’re hanging out with friends, having a party or running the gauntlet on a first date, this spot exudes good vibes and a great atmosphere, made even more striking with the works of local artists lining the walls. It’s an easy destination for a good time, with regular line-ups, including their resident DJs on Friday and Saturday nights ensuring the good times get rolling.

The Oxford Old SLCR B18157

The Oxford ON 31 DECEMBER 1893 (PHOTO: State Library Catalogue Reference: B 18157

Third stop – Royal Oak Hotel

123 O’Connell Street, North Adelaide

Back in the day

According to Bob Hoad in his book Hotels and Publicans in South Australia 1836–1993, the Royal Oak was first established on the east side of O'Connell Street in 1855. The license moved to the present site in 1866, and a balcony was added in 1881.


It’s easy to pop past Royal Oak for a drink and happily settle in for a laid-back session with mates. The eclectic mix of furniture sets a nostalgic vibe, and it’s made more familiar by a team whose aim is to ensure you have a great time.

The menu boasts traditional pub meals, share plates and vegan-friendly fare that you can enjoy in the quaint restaurant (complete with an open fire in winter) or in the open-air beer garden in warmer weather. You’ll be greeted by live entertainment setting the scene on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, daily happy hours and weekday deals for steak, parmi and burger lovers. And that’s not to mention a great range of beer on tap and in bottles, a regularly-changing wine list and bartenders who will always be on hand to whip up a cocktail or two, every day of the week.

Royal Oak Old SLCR B60927

The Royal Oak ON 1 JANUARY 1971 (PHOTO: State Library Catalogue Reference: B 9170)

Final stop – The Caledonian

219 O’Connell Street, North Adelaide

Back in the day

In 1869, the Caledonian was established on the corner of O’Connell Street and Barton Terrace. When horse-trams were introduced to North Adelaide in 1878, this corner became the terminus, which guaranteed a healthy trade for the hotel and extensive additions were made to the hotel in 1883. The horses were kept in stables for the A & S Tramway Company stables nearby, just off Gover Street.


These days, the boutique hotel overlooks green parklands and is renowned for both casual and premium dining, as well as specialising in small and large private dining and cocktail events. ‘The Cali’, as it’s affectionately known, boasts a huge wine and whisky list, extensive cocktails, spirits and beers, making it easy to pull up a pew and order your favourite tipple.

Caledonian Hotel Old SLCR B17610 2

THE CALEDONIAN on 22 September 1967 (PHOTO: State Library Catalogue Reference: B 10294)

What a perfect spot to pull up stumps! We hope you’ve been captured by the lights from the historic pubs of O’Connell, and you’ve enjoyed a stroll back in time with us.