In the true spirit of community, a determined family of patrons have banded together to save their local pub – by buying it.
As the weary owners of the almost one-hundred-year-old Bolgart Hotel seek a graceful retirement from the rigours of pub operation, a town faces the loss of its heart and hub.
Locals for the past eight years and regulars to the classic public house, Mandy and Richard Walker and his brother Shannon have jumped the bar to take the reins of Bolgart’s only pub – with plans to revive her ahead of the centenary later this year.
Requiring a commercial loan, the trio found themselves short of the deposit even after leveraging their savings and equity in their own homes. Not willing to let that stop their dream, they have taken to the internet to ask people to help them ‘Revive a Country Pub’. (see below)
As locals, the Walkers know the importance of the hotel to the town of Bolgart, and told PubTIC their plans include a raft of initiatives including the involvement of local farmers.
“It is our aim to be a contributor to the Bolgart community by providing a service that they want, and giving back through sponsorship, fundraising and subsidising a community bus,” said the very animated Mandy Walker.
“An exciting part of our plan is to put Dick and Shannon’s beer-making skills to good use and produce craft beer using wheat grown by local farmers.”
The hotel was built in 1916, and one of only six of its kind erected as part of the construction of railway tracks across Western Australia. It still has the characteristic double-brick construction, with rich Jarrah wood floors and staircase. WA’s State Heritage Office lists it as the most authentic example of its kind remaining.
Located about 130 kilometres north of Perth, Bolgart has potential as a tourist stop and the Walkers have plenty of ideas for attracting travellers to the town and pub.
“We have plans to be able to cater for a diverse market base, by rearranging one of the bars to be a sports bar with TVs, having a separate dining area away from the general bar and sports bar, a kids’ area, and a section with music and pool tables,” continued Mandy.
But before that can happen, the hotel sorely needs an upgrade to its electrical system and plumbing, and some restoration work to areas such as the balcony and verandas. Plus preparation of the cellar for a micro-brewery.
The crowd-funding campaign hopes to complete the deposit and kick-start the renovations.
Donors are offered a range of ‘perks’ for donating – from the inexpensive to the downright generous. For the right sum one could be wearing a Bolgart Hotel tee-shirts, getting a round at the bar, or getting the bar itself – in naming rights, that is.
Aware of the risks – and potential rewards – the wannabe owners are backing themselves and asking for anyone with a love for the country local to back them too.
The power of many can put the Bolgart Hotel on the map.