In On the Market by Clyde Mooney

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After 14 years, the owners of one of Queensland’s most colourful country pubs have called time, listing their self-made landmark in the sleepy town of Mulgildie.

Artist-publican Julie South and husband Tony Davenport were nearly not the owners of postcard pub the Mulgildie Hotel, around 140 kilometres due west of Bundaberg.

The corner pub was on the market and the couple visited one day back in 2006 to check it out, spending a hot afternoon in the middle of summer with no air-conditioning.

Julie South. Images: Facebook

“We got here around two in the afternoon, the bar closed at nine and we were the only customers the whole time,” Julie told PubTIC.

Despite the fact that management put them up in the ‘Gold Room’ – named after the colour of the bedding on the 40-year-old mattress – they retired thinking buying the pub was not an option.

“We were going to leave first thing and got up at 5am. I looked out at the view and just fell in love and said to my husband, ‘you know, we could do something with this place’”.

If there was a rule book for ‘colourful country pubs’ it would say, see the Mulgildie. Both sporting artistic tendencies, the couple have adorned the pub in hand-painted murals with something of a cowboy theme. Over the years many passers-by have also made their mark or signed the wall, including country singer James Blundell.

Located on the A3 through regional Queensland, the town of just a couple of hundred residents gets a steady flow of travellers and grey nomads.

South has fostered a near-constant line-up of events, such as last weekend’s procession of vintage cars and Saturday night’s packed house for karaoke.

The decorations and dedication to social events sees people outside every day taking photos of themselves and the venue, providing constant social media coverage and furthering its fame.

“We have heaps of guys coming this weekend for a motorcycle event, and the following weekend a group of Harleys coming through on a memorial run for a mate. There’s something all the time,” says Julie.

The 3,221m² block incorporates a large campground very popular with the nomads, but the hotel itself has 14 guest rooms and two restaurants, as well as a large public bar and Keno facilities.

Julie spends most of her time in the kitchen, employing backpackers to do the bar work. She says she is ready to call it a day and needs a new knee, but can’t do either while continuing the long hours of a country pub.

“We want to retire,” she admits. “We’ve done it for 14 years, it’s time to go and see the grandkids and get out in our campervan.”

The couple almost sold the 1927 pub a few years ago for over half a million, but have listed the freehold going concern this time for $450,000 as they look to move to their Bundaberg retirement house and beyond.


The Mulgildie Hotel was one of the first pubs featured by free-riding activist Colin Whelan in his works Nothing But The Pub.