Forget the pub with no beer — in central western Queensland, a resurrected watering hole will soon operate in a place with no residents. After closing its doors back in 1997, the Betoota Hotel will reopen in the ghost town this weekend.
Brisbane smash repairer Robert Haken is bringing the famed spot back to life, telling Brisbane Times that he first fell for its charms around 30 years ago. Revisiting the empty, rundown site in 2015, he was driven to act. "When I walked into the place I just thought, what an amazing bit of Australia history and why isn't someone doing something with it."
After buying the pub before Christmas, Haken's plan was to restore it to its former glory by late-August. The pub's reopening, unfortunately, hit a snag, with a post on Facebook saying it had been delayed because of red tape and paperwork. "Owners of the iconic OLD [sic] Betoota Hotel side wish to sincerely thank all that have given so much to help us attempt to reach our goal, a goal which is not gone, simply the finish line is further away than we hoped."
Although it won't be opening for good quite yet, the pub has received a temporary licence to open on Friday, August 24, and Sunday, August 26 — just in time for the famous Betoota Races, the area's signature event, which often attracts more than 400 people to the resident-less town — and all profits from sales on the two days will go to charity.
On Friday, from 11.30am–6.30pm, the Betoota Hotel will host an Australian Anti Ice Campaign (AAIC) awareness and education day, with 50 percent of profits going to AAIC and the other half to Rural Aid's Buy a Bale campaign, which supports drought-affected farmers. It'll be serving steak burgers, sausage sangas and, of course, plenty of frosty beer.
It'll be closed on Saturday for the races, which you can, if you're so included, buy tickets for here. As they say, "when in Rome"...
The day after, on Sunday, August 26, the pub will host the Cricket Cup from 12pm–7pm, with profits once again being split 50/50 to Rural Aid and AAIC. The same Aussie snacks and refreshments will be available, and there'll be raffles and prizes for the best-dressed cricketers.
Once it's up and running — for good — Betoota Hotel will operate during the area's tourist season, between April and November. Due to the heat, it won't open in summer.
The pub remains the only building in Betoota, and boasts quite the past, dating back to 1885. Previous owner Sigmund Remienko ran the place for 44 years until 1997. When he passed away in 2004, the town lost its last remaining resident.
If it sounds like the kind of story you might read in The Betoota Advocate, that's understandable; however, while the satirical publication takes its name from the deserted spot, this isn't one of their amusing tales.
For anyone keen to make the drive when the pub reopens, expect to trek more than 1500 kilometres west from Brisbane (a 20-hour drive), 1800 kilometres northwest of Sydney (a 24-hour drive) and 20,000 kilometres north of Melbourne (a 26-hour drive).
Betoota Hotel is located at 6 Daroo Street, Betoota. For more information about its opening, keep an eye on the Facebook page.