There’s only thing worse than a pub with no beer and that is a closed one – just ask the people of Mirrool.
They are scouring Australia for a publican willing to take on their century old Royal Hotel after it shut its doors three weeks ago and was put on the market.
The community has lost its meeting place, drinkers have been forced to travel to Beckom or Ariah Park to slake their thirst, while campers are giving the village a miss now the pub is shut.
The elegant two-storey Royal Hotel is located on the Newell Highway between Narrandera and West Wyalong and hosts the annual Mirrool Silo Challenge in October, and Mirrool silo cinema.
The pub is under the tenure of Michael and Sue Hopkins-Jones, who closed the business due to illness, and the freehold is listed with hotel broker Xcllusive Business Sales for $360,000, including all equipment and furniture.
Originally built in 1916, the imposing brick building with ornate wrought iron fretwork was repainted in heritage colours in 2017 and retains many of the original period features inside.
It was saved from the sale of its licence in 2000 by a consortium of 14 locals and survived a storm in 2012 when most of the roof was ripped away.
It is not the first time in recent history the pub has closed down, with patrons experiencing lengthy beer droughts in 1999 and 2014.
Mirrool farmer and former part-owner of the pub, Noel “Buster” Fairman, organised a community camp oven lunch on Sunday as a get together following the pub’s closure.
Mr Fairman confirmed the Mirrool Silo Kick would go ahead in October despite the pub’s closure but hoped the business could reopen before then.
“It’s tough going for these small country hotels – they aren’t surviving, you only have to look at ones like Matong or Kikoira,” he said. “Our government sits on its hands and does nothing to help these hotels with the cost of power.
“Between the insurance and the power, the costs amount to $800 a week and that is not sustainable for a pub in a country town.”
Mr Fairman said the Silo Kick had raised enough funds to install five powered camping sites and 10 non-powered sites to encourage campers and truck drivers to visit Mirrool.
“Some campers kept on going as the hotel was shut – we really need our hotel open,” he said. “Sue Hopkins-Jones did a tremendous job at the hotel – new owners can walk in and the only thing needed is an ice machine.
“The cool rooms, the fridges, everything else is sitting there ready to go. The pub is 140 years old in September and has been repainted outside.”
Mr Fairman said when the Royal was community owned, a $60,000 dollar-for-dollar grant enabled new toilets, roofing and footpath to be installed.
He said more than 65 people attended Sunday’s gathering to raise funds for the Mirrool church.
“We wanted to keep the community alive – it starts to suffer once the pub shuts.
“We have lost our meeting and information place – there is a beautiful park opposite the pub for the kids to play in safety.
“We have an 88-year-old who pokes down to the pub for a few beers on a Friday afternoon but all of that is gone, it’s a bloody shame.”
Mr Fairman stressed the Royal Hotel was a viable business.
“The hotel is fully functional – all you have to do is buy beer and start up a business,” he said. “I wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world but Mirrool.”