Alexander McKinlay, a failed Melbourne merchant and bankrupt Port Fairy and Portland Auctioneer, erected a rough slab public-house on the banks of the Glenelg River, at what was then known as the Adelaide Crossing Place. He named this hotel, the Glenelg Inn. McKinlay's original intention was to erect an Inn on the Hamilton side of the Glenelg River. He was thwarted in this move by Edward Henty, who occupied the Muntham run, which in those times extended as far west as the river.
Fortunately for McKinlay he was given permission to build on the opposite bank of the Glenelg River, on part of Springbank Station.
This original Glenelg Inn opened on September 15th 1846, on the site now occupied by the present Glenelg Inn. A Post Office was established at the hotel in July 1847.
After McKinlay's untimely death in November 1848, the licence was taken over by his widow, Mary, with the assistance of her brothers, James and Edmund Kirby.
The township of Casterton was gazetted in 1852, and development occurred around the Glenelg Inn - a similar story to so many other parts of Australia, where towns have grown up around a licenced house. The Glenelg Inn, being the only public building available, served as the social centre of the district in those very early days. Not only that - traveling ministers conducted church services in the lounge, and held marriage and baptismal sessions.
Possession of the Inn passed to George Chaffey in 1856. Chaffey was a racing fanatic, who kept a string of race-horses, and was a prominent early member of the Casterton Racing Club. Chaffey died tragically in 1860, and his widow, Phillippa, and her second husband, E.C. Courtis, held the licence until it was purchased by Owen O'Reilly, around 1870. O'Reilly rebuilt the Glenelg Inn at a cost of ₤2,000.
James Gray purchased the Inn in June 1874, and subsequently sold it at auction to Charles Whitpaine in August 1882. Whitpaine held possession for a mere three months before selling out to Thomas Burt, at what the Casterton News of the time admiringly referred to as “a very considerable profit”.
Burt possessed a true spirit of adventure and unflappable optimism. During his ten years of occupancy, he was behind the formation, and subsequent collapse, of several gold and silver companies, which hoped to strike it rich in the Dergholm / Roseneath area.
Burt was succeeded as owner of the Glenelg Inn by Joseph Leake, around 1892. Leake sold to Thomas Carroll in May 1902. A number of publicans played host at the hotel during Carroll's twenty-odd years of ownership. No doubt the most significant development during this period was the erection of the present two-storey brick building. Constructed in 1906, the year of the great Casterton flood, the building originally featured a magnificent verandah.
Ownership of the hotel passed to Bert Tucker in the early 1920's, before it was purchased by the Ballarat Brewing Company, in the mid 1930's. This company maintained ownership until recent times. More than fifteen publicans featured at the hotel during those years.