The new home: Australia // Family of Joseph Parer, the hoteliers

Family of Joseph Parer, the hoteliers

Restaurateur's life
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Josep was the first Parer to arrive in Australia, in 1855. He married Caroline Fergusson, with whom he had six children: Marie, James, Albert (who died as a child), Charles, Alfred and Frederick.


Josep and his brother Francis created the Parer dynasty in Australia, bringing all the family members from Spain and offering them work in their hotels. They started with a small shop in Elisabeth and Collins street and later, in 1858, bought the John Bull Hotel and the ‘Duke de la Victoria Hotel’, in Bourke street.

Joseph moved to New Zealand in 1860, but he returned in 1876 and in 1882 he built ‘Barcelona Park’ at McMahon’s Road, Frankston, which was popularly known as the Tower House. He was an adventurer and a lovable grandfather, as one can suspect from his letter to granddaughter Muriel.

James Parer married Maggie Smyth and had Muriel, Leslie, Dolores, and Beryl. They ran a successful hotel in Darwin. James was a family man and he always had space and a job for any member of the family who needed it. They were a big happy family and often had special events, such as the Darwin Follies as a farewell to J.J.Parer, where members of the family sang and danced.

Joseph’s youngest son, Frederick, married Lydia Mitchell, who died giving birth to their second child. When the little girl Phyllis was two, she was adopted by her aunt for a while till uncle James Parer fostered her in Darwin, where she lived for 7 years.

James Parer was a family man and he gave his nieces and nephews jobs in his hotel, like Les Parer, Phyllis and Mervyn Parer (Frederick’s sons) and  Charles Johnson (from the Smyth family). Charles ended up marrying Phyllis in a second Parer-Smyth wedding, and they had four children: Elaine, Rooney, Milton and Anthony. Grandfather Joseph introduced Charles to the hospitality business and he ended up running the ‘Whitehorse Inn’ in Hawthorn, Melbourne.