In On the Market by Clyde Mooney

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The Phillips’ are calling time on running pubs and parting with their period-style Blue Mountains Hotel in the NSW highlands, which they’ve owned for 33 years.

Historic Lawson is a Blue Mountains town around 90 kilometres due west of the Sydney CBD. It was one of the first towns established on the eastern slope of the mountains, known as 24 Mile Hollow.

In 1848 the Blue Mountain Inn opened in the Hollow, prompting the locals to adopt the name Blue Mountain for the town. This name was also given to the original railway station.

The perceived confusion of a Blue Mountain locality in the Blue Mountains brought authorities to change the name to Lawson, in honour of William Lawson, who was one of the first Europeans to cross the mountains, in 1813, along with Willian Wentworth and Gregory Blaxland.

More recently, Lawson was the subject of controversy around the NSW Government’s scheme to widen the old Great Western Highway, which was just one lane each way through the town.

While some were saved, many old and historic buildings were relocated or demolished – including a major portion of the Blue Mountain Hotel as it was at the time. Sadly, little in the way of records remained of the original 1800s structure.

Publican Janine Phillips and her family have owned the Hotel for more than three decades. They also held pub properties in Sydney, and the Blue Mountains was mostly leased to an operator.

Janine returned to operate the pub in 2005 to found it in sorry condition. Having nothing but an old circa 1900 photograph to go on, she set about constructing a new building in honour of the original hotel.

Blue Mountains Hotel c.1900

A DA submitted in 2005 was eventually approved, and construction began in 2006, taking several years all told.

Now, after a lifetime behind the bar and having created a local legend, Janine describes herself as “getting a bit long in the tooth” and believes the time has come for a new owner to make “so much more” of the new-historic Lawson landmark.

“It’s sad … I don’t want to sell, it’s probably just time,” she laments. “It needs someone with more energy than me. I have a house in Queensland, and would like to go there and spend time with my grandkids and old friends while I can.”

The pub itself is one of the striking focal points of Lawson, the recreated building and its Victorian features easily believed to have been there for more than a century.

It offers a popular dining room and commercial kitchen, gaming room with TAB, Keno and 12 EGMs, generous 5-bedroom manager’s residence and five nicely appointed accommodation rooms, with ensuites.

The gaming machines are not in a smoking solution, and stand to benefit from such, with a bowling club across the road similarly not offering smoking at the EGMs.

Janine admits she has done nothing to promote the pub or its wares, but has begun to see a strong lunch trade, regular tourist buses, and bookings for weddings.

She also suggests the amply-proportioned manager’s residence could be halved, to accommodate two more guest rooms.

“I haven’t marketed it at all, or done promotions or anything – just got it up and running,” she states.

“I was supposed to be here a couple of years … I don’t have it in me anymore.”

The Phillips have listed the freehold going concern with Manenti Quinlan’s Leonard Bongiovanni and Peter Manenti, who recognise its potential in the current market.

“It needs some love and the attention of an energetic operator who can truly bring out this hotel’s true potential, and make it a Blue Mountains masterpiece,” offers Bongiovanni.

The Blue Mountains Hotel is on offer for $2.7 million.

Artist’s rendition of the Blue Mountains Hotel in 1989

Blue Mountains Hotel (today)