For the past few years, Windsor’s Jolly Frog has been a dormant eye-sore on the Hawkesbury landscape – its heydays of hosting the likes of AC/DC, Cold Chisel and INXS long quiet.
After a couple of years it seems one local was sick of the sight of it, and is now facing trial in Penrith court for setting the building alight a year ago, the blaze raging for more than an hour before being brought under control.
Now considered unsafe by Council due to the collapsed roof and subsequent typical discovery of asbestos, it is ringed by a vandalised security fence and is likely the occasional abode of unwanted guests.
Council reported last August that it is undertaking a heritage assessment of the building to determine a path forward, rather than continuing to repair ingress prevention to the hazardous site.
Sadly, this is a sorry tale that could be the subject of many a history-forgotten regional pub.
For any number of reasons, the once thriving music venue ceased to be a viable business model. Unable to make ends meet, the operators likely left under financial duress and any amount of personal hardship. Requiring extensive capital to redevelop, it sits untenanted and inoperative in a region that remembers it fondly, but not enough to actually help the place.
Should these Frogs of Australian pubs be saved?
It’s a fact that the building – although originally a boarding house – has been a pub since 1886 and brought generations of social activity to the idyllic Hawkesbury area.
But memories and idealism don’t pay the bills. Should the taxpayer front for what would no doubt a multi-million dollar refurbishment of a worn-out building? And then, will the residents realise the error of their ways and patronise the place regardless of its offering?
While history-smacked establishments cannot be replaced, if the history they hold is not of enough significance to warrant attraction in its own right, perhaps they are meant to be collateral damage of the times.
The fate of the Jolly Frog remains in the balance.
Your thoughts welcome, for possible use in a further look into the subject.
Clyde Mooney – publishing editor