ERROL PARKER | Editor-at-large | Contact
An Old City District that survived two world wars, recessions, the death of the wool industry and more droughts than a school shooter finally met its match late last year and ceased trading after nearly two-hundred years of service to the community.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t the Tax Office that shut Daroo Street institution, The Federal Hotel.
Nor was it an electrical fire, or even a suspicious one.
The Fed was shut down by its neighbours.
For years they complained to the Diamantina Shire, saying the pub created excessive noise and attracted an antisocial crowd. The cheap drinks, live music and management’s blasé attitude toward designated smoking areas, responsible service of alcohol and late-night trading hours made it a hit with generations of our town’s youth.
They’ve only recently moved into the area in the past decade or so. Forcing out the dockworkers who once rented the cottages that dot the upper reaches of Daroo Street.
Remembering the Old Fed this afternoon, a former night duty manager spoke to The Advocate about the halcyon days of the Old City District.
“It really was a zoo,” said Austin Doare, who worked at The Fed for some 16 years.
“But it was always a zoo. It was always known as the loosest bar in town since before Federation. Before the Betoota Gold Rush of 1840. Back when Betoota was just a sleepy steamboat town on the banks of the lazy Diamantina River,”
“And now it’s gone. And in it’s place, the worst possible thing imaginable. A kid-friendly pub.”
For 124 days, the Fed stood as still as a dormant volcano down there on the corner of Daroo and Market. The bustle of Betoota life seemingly passed by unnoticed.
Until a pub tsar from Longreach came knocking, with him came ideas of expensive food items, craft beer and children.
Oliver Konkey, the brain behind the now fire-gutted but once boutique, double-hatted Longreach gastropub, The Lyceum, purchased The Fed in February and wasted no time building his vision.
Over the weekend, The Gelded Seahorse opened to great fanfare. The skeleton of the Fed was still there, but it was gone.
The screaming French Quarter punk bands and the public urination is now just an echo in the minds of those who were there.
Now, there’s just screaming children and their parents. Most of whom work in the flourishing Betootacon Valley tech scene.
And they’re not stopped here, there’s other pubs in their sights.
Our reporter asked Austin what he though the solution should be to all this.
“Publicans need to learn to live in harmony with the yuppie,” he said.
“But they don’t listen,”
“Maybe we should take the L1A1s out of the poly pipe in our front gardens and take the pubs back by force? They might know how to code but I have nothing to lose and a thirst for revenge. Just a thought bubble.”
More to come.