Almost thirty years ago an Australian box office extravaganza put one unlikely pub in remote north-west Queensland on the international map.
The Walkabout Creek Hotel, formerly the Federal Hotel, resides in McKinley, Queensland … a home to just 16 residents that makes most small towns look big.
The 1986 movie, which went on to become Australia’s biggest box office film, with earnings of $47.7 million, featured on the home-away-from-home pub of Mick ‘Crocodile’ Dundee, played by Paul Hogan.
It now attracts patrons from around the globe, and new owners Frank and Debbie Wust told PubTIC their entry into the world of Crocodile Dundee kind of ‘just happened’.
“We were travelling around, with no intention of leaving our home or buying a business,” said Debbie.
“But Frank had to go back to night shift in the mines and decided he’d had enough. If it wasn’t for that, we never would have ended up buying the pub.”
Just two years later, the couple are capitalising on the hotel’s stardom, planning for a big thirtieth birthday celebration in April, with help from McKinley Shire Council. Unfortunately, Paul Hogan will be overseas and cannot be there.
Debbie says the party will be around the begging of the Easter tourist season, and is already getting some attention, with their 18 rooms booked out, and caravan and camping space filling. Council will be preparing further camping areas at the racetrack.
The pub is the recognised home of Crocodile Dundee memorabilia – now, since the Wust’s enthusiasm, and donations by producer John Cornell in recognition of the diligence.
In 1996 the entire pub was moved from its original location after lazily falling off its stumps, with the nomadic structure repositioned to its new, more strategic current home on the Landsborough Highway.
Frank and Debbie, who have never owned or worked in a pub previously, have taken to the task like crocs to water.
“I pulled my first beer here, and Frank used his first cash register.”