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Wrest Point Tasmania has a proud place in the history of Tasmania’s tourism landscape. The Hobart casino has ties dating back to the dawn of Australia’s hotel industry with this family-owned company representing the country’s oldest continually operating hotel group.
Owned by the Federal Group, the Wrest Point story begins in the 1800s when a group of businessmen decided to form the Federal Coffee Palace Company. At the time, this palace was the tallest building in Melbourne. Renamed the Hotel Federal in 1924, it became the cornerstone of what is now the Federal Group.
Over five decades the Group busied themselves operating some of the country’s finest hotels including Savoy Plaza and The Windsor, before turning their attention to Tasmania, purchasing Wrest Point Riviera Hotel in Sandy Bay. In doing so, Federal Group became part of Tasmanian history and the birth of Australia’s first casino unfolded.
Shortly after European settlement, an inn was built on the current Wrest Point site by William Chaffey in 1839. It was later purchased by Arthur Drysdale who created Tasmania’s prestigious international hotel, the Wrest Point Riviera. A much loved institution, the Riviera became a centre for the community, renowned for its dances and entertainment, much like the Wrest Point of today.
When Greg Farrell senior (former Federal Group chairman) honeymooned with his wife Dolores at Wrest Point, the connection was instant with his Hobart accommodation. Greg believed it was “the greatest hotel site in the world- right on the shore of the beautiful Derwent Estuary with the backdrop of Mount Wellington.” This love of place would be passed through three generations of the Farrell family.
As chairman, Greg Farrell senior was the driving force behind the Wrest Point Casino development. But he couldn’t do it without the support of the Tasmanian people who not only voted for the development but became part of the brand and Wrest Point story. This Hobart entertainment venue marked a new era for Tasmania and for its people.
On February 10, 1973, the Federal Group catapulted Tasmania onto the national stage with a Gala Opening of Wrest Point Hotel and Casino televised across the country. This Tasmanian holiday destination paved the way for new investment, increased flights and a new confidence in the State’s tourism.