RESTOR­ING HIS­TORY

New owner plans to bring grand old Moss­man icon back to its 1940s glory

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - An­gelique Pat­ter­son an­gelique.pat­ter­son@news.com.au

MOSS­MAN is go­ing back in time to the 1940s as new own­ers of the Ex­change Ho­tel – for­merly the Dain­tree Inn – plan to spend $400,000 to re­store the iconic build­ing.

The prop­erty was closed by liq­uida­tors last year af­ter it had been for sale for over 18 months un­til it was sold to Syd­ney­based own­ers Mark and Julie Collins, who pur­chased the prop­erty for $400,000 plus GST, and plan to spend an equal amount on restora­tions.

The cou­ple plan to re­store the land­mark Front Street prop­erty to an iconic and unique build­ing that faith­fully evokes the World War Two era, right down to paint colours and tim­ber fin­ishes.

MOSS­MAN is go­ing back in time to the 1940s as new own­ers of the Ex­change Ho­tel – for­merly the Dain­tree Inn – plan to spend $400,000 to re­store the iconic build­ing.

The prop­erty was closed by liq­uida­tors last year af­ter it had been for sale for over 18 months un­til it was sold to Syd­ney-based own­ers Mark and Julie Collins, who pur­chased the prop­erty for $400,000 plus GST, and plan to spend that same amount on restora­tions.

The Ex­change was first built in 1896, the top story was put on in 1911 af­ter the roof was dam­aged in a cy­clone and in 1934 an­other cy­clone de­stroyed the prop­erty, which was re­built as the build­ing that stands to­day.

With its sale, which was set­tled in November last year, the 118 year-old iconic ho­tel has been given an­other chance.

Mark and Julie Collins pur­chased the prop­erty with an­other in­vestor and plan to re­store the Ex­change to its for­mer glory, with ren­o­va­tions be­gin­ning last week.

‘‘Our over­all plan is to make it the same as it was in the 1940s,’’ Mr Collins said ex­clu­sively to the Gazette.

‘‘My part­ner Julie liked the build­ing and we heard the other one burnt down and there was talk about this go­ing the same way, so that was part of the mo­ti­va­tion.

‘‘I’ve ren­o­vated her­itage houses in Syd­ney. It’s not a chal­lenge there like it is here, but it’s been good, we have been given a lot of in­for­ma­tion and a cou­ple of older ladies stopped in and re­as­sured us about we are do­ing.

‘‘They are happy it’s go­ing back to the Ex­change with Fri­day bands, Sun­day jazz at the pool bar and re­ally good food.’’

Mr Collins said it has been a strug­gle work­ing with the red tape im­posed by the Depart­ment of Her­itage and Pro­tec­tion, con­sid­er­ing the build­ing is her­itage listed.

‘‘Our goal is greater than what they want stripped and re­done,’’ he said.

‘‘We started a week ago, we would have had heaps more done if it weren’t for the EHP – it took them three days to de­cide to al­low us to change one piece of tim­ber on the out­side. It was rot­ted and we want to fix it – it’s the same as the front door and that’s why we have it boarded up for now.’’

Mr Collins said they did not want to de­velop a new ‘‘flash’’ ho­tel, as there is enough of that in Port Dou­glas – part of the restora­tion will in­clude the top sec­tion of accommodation, which Mr Collins said will be changed from backpackers accommodation.

‘‘It will be for peo­ple who would like to ex­pe­ri­ence what it would be like to stay here in the 1940s,’’ he said.

‘‘We are go­ing to have a tim­ber din­ing room with her­itage red and above that a soft cream colour and bring it through to the bar. There is wa­ter dam­age in the din­ing area from alu­minium win­dows that weren’t in­stalled prop­erly, so we are re­plac­ing them and the only dif­fer­ence will be air-con­di­tion­ing.

‘‘There will be a few changes to the kitchen but the lay­out will be the same, this is be­cause it has got to work with the new laws.

‘‘You don’t know what is un­der­neath un­til un­til you start pulling it out, as we are clear­ing we are find­ing more of the orig­i­nal build­ing, we found cyprus pine.’’

The bar is still the orig­i­nal bar and will be re­stored into the Her­itage red/ cream theme through­out, in­clud­ing into the bot­tle shop which will re­main but be opened up fur­ther and the out­side will also be re­stored.

The Collins aim to have the Ex­change Ho­tel open by the mid­dle of March, and host a func­tion in sup­port of the Moss­man Port Dou­glas Sharks, who they are spon­sor­ing.

If you have any pic­tures of the orig­i­nal Ex­change Ho­tel, even repli­cas, the Collins’ would love a copy to dis­play them along with their ex­ten­sive art col­lec­tion. If you have any im­ages feel free to email mark@board­ex­press.com.au

Pic­ture: KEN ZEI­GLER

BUSY REN­O­VAT­ING:

There are big plans to re­store the Ex­change Ho­tel ± for­merly Dain­tree Inn ± to a richer past. Inset: new owner Mark Collins

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