For many grey nomads, a stop at a character-filled Outback pub is one of the many highlights of taking the Big Lap.
Stopping for a beer, or a meal, or a yarn, with the locals – or all three – truly is the best way to get a feel for the community through which you’re travelling.
And while the Birdsville Hotel, the William Creek Hotel, and the Lion’s Den Hotel may all have their place in Outback folklore, the truly remote Betoota Hotel is quickly earning itself a reputation as an unforgettable stop for grey nomads.
Betoota, whose welcome sign famously registers its population as zero, is more than 1,400 kilometres from Brisbane, and was the inspiration behind the satirical publication, the Betoota Advocate.
It’s an unlikely location for a viable business and, as you might expect, its history and the story of how it came to still be serving beers and offering free camping to passing grey nomads is a remarkable one.
It was originally constructed in 1885 as a custom station that would monitor and hold cattle being moved via horseback from state to state.
Then, in the early 1900s, it was refashioned into a police station, before being transformed into the Betoota Hotel in 1922.
It was owned for many years by Simon ‘Ziggy’ Remienko, who died in 1997, and then it stood empty for nearly 20 years, seemingly destined to slowly deteriorate and collapse.
That was until Robert ‘Robbo’ Haken, a panel beater from Logan village, stopped here in 2013 and was disgusted to find the hotel that he had previously visited on many occasions was being vandalised and disrespected.
Two short years later, he was the proud owner of the Betoota Hotel. With a group of friends, he set about fixing, restoring, and re-opening the iconic hostelry.
The hotel opened its doors for the first time in nearly two decades in March, 2020 … just before Covid hit and various travel restrictions meant it had to close again.
A spokesperson for the pub said Robbo and his mates took advantage of the down time to complete the hotel renovations, adding a workshop, new water tanks, a beautiful big toilet and shower block, new plumbing, roofing, and a kitchen refit.
“Not once in this process did Robbo take away from the hotel’s original and much-loved façade and style,” said the spokesperson. “The hotel is now surrounded by old school cars, trucks, trailers, and even farm equipment, and inside is a series of old memorabilia all with their own unique story or meaning.”
The pub says grey nomads are now a very important part of their business. “Our staff make everyone feel at home in the bush,” said the spokesperson. “We show them the best fishing and sightseeing spots, and our camp oven tucker is extremely good … and breakfast is even better.”
Apparently, the pub has got something going for it as lots of people who come to camp for a night, end up staying two, three or four days.
“One of the best things about Betoota is that there is no phone service so everyone has to sit around the fire and have a chat and learn of other great places to visit from other grey nomads,” said the spokesperson. “The atmosphere at the Betoota Hotel was built into it in 1885 and you feel it as some as you walk in or camp here.”
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