“Where the hell is Dune­doo?”

Dubbo Photo News - - Front Page - Mar­litt and Glenn Chapman, man­agers of the Ho­tel Dune­doo.

As the town’s only pub, The Dune­doo Ho­tel is a hub for lo­cals, thirsty trav­ellers and in­quis­i­tive vis­i­tors who want to see the town that al­most had a “big dunny” as its main at­trac­tion. LISA MIN­NER dropped by to find out why peo­ple are no longer ask­ing: “Where the hell is Dune­doo?”

BUILT in 1913, the Ho­tel Dune­doo be­gan its life as an 18-room es­tab­lish­ment known as the Tal­bra­gar Ho­tel, ac­cord­ing to the lo­cal rags of the day, the Mudgee Guardian and North­west­ern Rep­re­sen­ta­tive. Just the fol­low­ing year, in 1914 in the Dubbo Li­cens­ing Court, the pub was re-chris­tened with the name of the pretty lit­tle cen­tral west town on whose main street it sits.

In times past, trav­ellers and lo­cal pa­trons had the choice of whet­ting their whis­tles at ei­ther of the town’s wa­ter­ing holes, the other be­ing The Royal. Th­ese days, the Dune­doo Ho­tel is the last pub stand­ing in the town­ship that’s home to 800 souls.

The Royal Ho­tel, just up the road, is no longer li­censed and in­stead serves as a bed and break­fast so its for­mer coun­ter­part is the only pub in town where the thirsty can nab a coldie. And nab they do.

Glenn Chapman has been man­ag­ing Ho­tel Dune­doo for just a year. He’s lived most of his life so far in the Black­town/ Mount Druitt area, but says he could count on one hand the num­ber of peo­ple he knew there.

It’s one of the rea­sons he loves the life­style and pace of Dune­doo. He doesn’t miss life in the big-smoke at all.

“Coun­try hos­pi­tal­ity is to­tally dif­fer­ent to life in the city,” he tells me when I pull in for a yarn.

“I could leave my keys in the car here, not that I do! But you cer­tainly wouldn’t do that back where I came from.”

The pub at­tracts a lot of the older pa­trons who en­joy drop­ping in for a beer and a chat dur­ing the day and in the af­ter­noons.

“The cock­ies, shear­ers and farm­ers swing by reg­u­larly, and at the week­ends we mostly get the shear­ers and the young blokes here,” Chapman says of the pub’s clien­tele.

There are hun­dreds of Royal Ho­tels in Aus­tralia, Glenn notes, but he loves the fact that his pub has its own unique name.

“There’s a Royal up the road, there’s a Royal at Men­dooran, there’s one at Coolah, a Royal at Hill End, but there’s only one Ho­tel Dune­doo – in the whole world ac­tu­ally – be­cause no one in their right mind would name their ho­tel Dune­doo!”

Com­ing to Dune­doo and tak­ing up their po­si­tion be­hind the town’s pub has been a learn­ing curve for Chapman and his part­ner Mar­litt.

“It’s been hard work but ful­fill­ing too, we’ve met a lot of good peo­ple which has been great.”

As with most towns, Fri­day night is when it all hap­pens at Ho­tel Dune­doo.

“We have our mem­bers’ night, our raf­fles and joker draw, and it at­tracts all the lo­cals.”

“It’s also nice to be work­ing here be­cause some of the older reg­u­lars come in and tell us a few yarns,” he says, echo­ing what so many pub­li­cans and li­censees of small town wa­ter­ing holes have told me dur­ing my rounds of bush pubs.

“It’s the best thing about the place, the peo­ple.”

As a younger man, Chapman was “a bit of a loner” he says, but as he’s grown older he’s been en­joy­ing so­cial in­ter­ac­tion more. That’s just as well, be­cause he’s cer­tainly get­ting a good dose of it since he took on the reins of the pub.

His part­ner Mar­litt is the restau­rant’s chef and be­tween the two of them and their an­tics, they keep the cus­tomers en­ter­tained with good-na­tured ban­ter and friendly rib­bing.

Bruce Woods, a lo­cal pa­tron, agrees Dune­doo has been in the news a bit lately with the cap­ture of the fugi­tive father-son duo, the Stoc­cos, hap­pen­ing near town. The sub­se­quent me­dia frenzy had jour­nal­ists, pho­tog­ra­phers and film crews pac­ing the main street look­ing to talk to any­one who may have had some con­tact with the two, prior to their cap­ture.

Chapman says the Stoc­cos never ac­tu­ally dark­ened the door of the Ho­tel Dune­doo, how­ever there was a mo­ment when he thought the pair had been in his es­tab­lish­ment.

“When we looked back on our cam­era footage around the time it was all hap­pen­ing, there were a cou­ple of sus­pi­cious look­ing char­ac­ters sit­ting over there in the cor­ner,” he says point­ing to the far end of the front bar.

“So we looked into it fur­ther, went over the footage and it turns out it was me and me mate, sit­ting there!” he re­calls, laugh­ing.

“All that busi­ness did put us on the map there for a while, though.

“Ev­ery­one was ask­ing “Where the hell is Dune­doo?” but in fact the pair was caught just out of Elong Elong, and no­body has heard of that place other than lo­cals.”

But that mo­men­tary burst of fame was just fleet­ing. What Dune­doo is re­ally best known for is as the town that al­most had a big “dunny” in its main street.

Plans to build a big toi­let were “flushed” by the com­mu­nity, which deemed the pro­posed dunny in­ap­pro­pri­ate. In fact they com­pletely “poopooed’ the idea.

“Some of the gen­try in the town didn’t think it was be­com­ing for Dune­doo,” Chapman says.

“But even thought it was never built, it cre­ated a lot of in­ter­est at the time with peo­ple com­ing here just to look at Dune­doo.”

“I’d give him $20 to go down there and drink and the pub­li­can there would give him an­other $20 to come back up to the Royal! It was all good fun.” - Bill Ma­honey, for­mer town pub­li­can

Would the town con­tinue to fight for the erec­tion of the much-talked about big dunny, the gen­eral con­sen­sus around the bar is “no”.

“That idea’s been knocked on the head for a good while now,” ev­ery­one agrees.

Woods of­fers that while Dune­doo is still a great place, the old char­ac­ters that used to live there and en­liven the town were largely long gone – but this is from a bloke with his tall tales and cheeky ways who seems to fit his own de­scrip­tion pretty well.

Bill Ma­honey was the for­mer pub­li­can at the Royal Ho­tel just up the road, and now en­joys a beer or two with mates at the Ho­tel Dune­doo, but he has plenty of mem­o­ries of the Royal back in its hey­day.

“I took over the Royal in 1974 and held the reins for about six years. I bought the free­hold and leased it and went up and man­aged the golf club for ten years while the chil­dren grew up,” Ma­honey re­calls.

“Back in ’74 it was a very in­ter­est­ing town. It was dif­fer­ent then – the kids would be run­ning around and giv­ing you a hand; it was a dif­fer­ent at­mos­phere in those days.”

I can’t re­sist ask­ing if there had been any­thing scan­dalous that had oc­curred at ei­ther pub, and Ma­honey says he’d only been ar­rested once. Thank­fully his brush with the law wasn’t en­tirely of his own mak­ing – a “few young ones” from an­other town caused a bit of trou­ble, he says.

How­ever, he does re­call the time when a pa­tron who used to have horses had a few too many one night.

“This par­tic­u­lar pa­tron had taken one of his ponies out of the truck and de­cided to try to walk it up the stair­way of the pub on this new car­pet I’d just laid. I didn’t even know he was do­ing it; he’d al­ready gone up a few of the stairs be­fore I no­ticed!” Ma­honey says, laugh­ing at the mem­ory.

“There was an­other bloke – we use to call him the ginger-cat. He was a shearer here and my wife use to cash his cheques. Any­way, he was a reg­u­lar and he’d book up a few drinks and I’d give him a few dol­lars to come down here (Ho­tel Dune­doo) and drink be­cause he used to an­noy the shit out of me.

“So I’d give him $20 to go down there and drink and the pub­li­can there would give him an­other $20 to come back up to the Royal! It was all good fun; they were lovely peo­ple.”

The for­mer pub­li­can re­calls a time (a clas­sic even) when the shear­ers, half a dozen or so, would go out of town shear­ing and al­ways pur­chased a heap of tin­nies to take with them.

“The sad thing was this par­tic­u­lar

time, th­ese guys couldn’t find a bag of ice to keep the cans cold so they went into a shop here and bought $20 worth of pad­dle pops to keep their tin­nies cold – true story! And I saw some of the re­sults of the cans com­ing back – they were all dif­fer­ent colours, and sticky and messy.”

The pub’s his­tory

IN 1925 it was re­ported by the Syd­ney Morn­ing Her­ald that a sleep-walker named Frank Ryan, an auc­tion­eer aged 30, fell from the bal­cony of the Ho­tel Dune­doo at about 2am and broke his back.

“He was se­ri­ously in­jured and died three hours later with­out re­gain­ing con­scious­ness. Ryan was said to be one of the most pop­u­lar and well known men in the district,” the pa­per noted.

In 1925 a Mr How­den was the new man­ager of the pub. He was also a for­mer po­lice of­fi­cer hav­ing been sta­tioned at Dubbo, War­ren and Bathurst over the course of his ca­reer. Six months prior to his ar­rival at the Ho­tel Dune­doo he ran the Cri­te­rion Ho­tel in New­cas­tle, where he is said to have done well. The pa­per re­ported he was a great ac­qui­si­tion to the town and took a keen in­ter­est in “pub­lic move­ments and in par­tic­u­lar any­thing that favoured sports”.

In 1936 Mr BW Byrne, the owner of the Ho­tel Dune­doo “painted within and with­out; when com­pleted, it will have

a fresh and at­trac­tive ap­pear­ance and make the town look bright and at­trac­tive. It seems to be the motto of the peo­ple of Dune­doo,” re­ported the Mudgee Guardian, in 1936.

The Dubbo Lib­eral and Mac­quarie Ad­vo­cate of the day re­ported that a Mr Shep­ard had sold the Royal Ho­tel, Dune­doo, for 3100 pounds in 1914. “There are now two ho­tels in this goa­head lit­tle town, the site of which five years ago was a sheep walk,” the re­port said.

The Mudgee Guardian and North­west­ern Rep­re­sen­ta­tive records that in 1914, the out­stand­ing fea­tures of the Ho­tel Dune­doo were ex­quis­ite in the man­ner in which the build­ing had been fur­nished.

“Mr Aiken ev­i­dently had it in mind that, to be in keep­ing with the build­ing it­self, the best fit­tings would have to be pro­cured.

“Each room is fur­nished to a de­gree which sug­gests more than or­di­nary taste was bought to bear in the se­lec­tion of the fur­ni­ture, which was sup­plied by the Crafts­man Fur­nish­ing Spe­cial­ists, Syd­ney…the re­pro­duc­tion of Crafts­man, Sher­a­ton, Ja­cobean and Louis fit­tings and fur­ni­ture is car­ried out on an ex­ten­sive scale. There is no hap­haz­ard va­ri­ety about the fur­ni­ture in the Ho­tel Dune­doo; uni­for­mity of wood is to be seen all through.”

“Ev­ery­one was ask­ing “Where the hell is Dune­doo?”” – Glenn Chapman, man­ager

With Bill Ma­honey were Barry Dray­ton and Merv Mills from Tea Gar­dens, who were in town for a bowls tour­na­ment . They love the Ho­tel Dune­doo and say they’ve vis­ited many times. “Sev­eral headaches here,” Dray­ton laughs.

Graeme ‘Whitey’ Whitelawe, bar­maid Laura Mil­son, Shane ‘Shaker’ Amidy, man­ager Glen Chapman and Andy Tre­gove at the pub’s main bar.

Tim Gib­son from Nar­romine and Chris O’shea from Dubbo were pass­ing through and de­cided to stop in and have a beer and watch the cricket while wait­ing for a mate.

Re­tired farmer and lo­cal of 40 years, Bruce Woods, says he loves the pub and Dune­doo be­cause “it’s a nice quiet place”. “It’s al­ways good to come up and have a yarn to some­body,” he says, and of­fers to share a joke: There were two Ir­ish­men stand­ing out the front and a load of turf went past on the back of a truck. One bloke said to the other, “When I win the lot­tery I’m go­ing to do that.” His mate said, “Do what?” The bloke said, “Send my lawn away to be cut!”

Man­ager Glenn Chapman on the bal­cony up­stairs at Ho­tel Dune­doo. The veran­dah pro­vides a panoramic view of the town.

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