New Royal Ho­tel own­ers earn po­si­tion in Qld Hall of Fame

Recog­ni­tion for CQ cou­ple who pro­duced a real gem

The Morning Bulletin - - NEWS - Steph Allen stephanie.allen@cap­

AF­TER win­ning the Best Bush Pub in Queens­land for the past three years, Ruby­vale pub own­ers Wendy and Bruce McFar­lane were in­ducted into the Queens­land Ho­tel As­so­ci­a­tion hall of fame last Wed­nes­day night.

A record num­ber of 1130 in­dus­try mem­bers at­tended the Bris­bane Con­ven­tion and Ex­hi­bi­tion Cen­tre cer­e­mony to hon­our the re­tirees-turned-ho­tel-moguls in lav­ish style.

Mr McFar­lane was a di­rec­tor of a large prop­erty eval­u­a­tion com­pany and spe­cialised in pubs be­fore re­tir­ing, and when he came across the pub in the heart of the Gem­fields, he came up with a bril­liant pro­posal for his wife.

“It just ap­pealed to us. If you walk into the pub it just has such a great at­mos­phere,” Mrs McFar­lane said of the ru­ral gem.

“Bruce had looked at a lot of pubs over the years. We could see there was po­ten­tial there to tart it up, and re­pair a lot of the stuff that had been let go.

“There’s a beau­ti­ful na­tive gar­den with four log cab­ins in there which are very pop­u­lar par­tic­u­larly with fam­i­lies over school holidays.

“We’ve in­vested a lot of money into it over the years but we’re re­ally happy with how it’s turned out.”

Mr and Mrs McFar­lane set to work to re­vamp the 20-year-old prop­erty, which is made of logs, “billy boul­ders”, and lo­cal stones from the sap­phire mines.

When they bought the New Royal, the logs had not been oiled in so long that there were large gaps between the wall logs.

“The first thing we did was oil over those logs and that’s an on­go­ing thing – we do that ev­ery year – and of course they ex­panded again and we did have to put some

wood in between and sort all that area out. We retiled all the toi­lets with lovely white tiles and bright­ened them up. Put some hand dri­ers in,” Mrs McFar­lane said.

“In the beer gar­den, we laid pavers ev­ery­where and made it all flat and fixed up

the gar­den. We put a sail up for the sum­mer time to pro­vide some shade so it made it a re­ally nice area to sit out.”

It’s this kind of at­ten­tion to de­tail and care that has made the ho­tel a meet­ing place for lo­cals, trav­el­ling

no­mads, tourists, and in­ter­na­tional buy­ers from Thai­land and China.

Lo­cals will even come into the pub and sell their sap­phires to the buy­ers, mak­ing the New Royal a trad­ing post of sorts as well.

For the six years that the

McFar­lanes have lived in Ruby­vale, they have be­come an in­te­gral part of the com­mu­nity.

They reg­u­larly host raf­fle auc­tions of al­co­hol and sap­phires, theme nights, Shave For A Cure events, and an­nu­ally par­tic­i­pate in

If you walk into the pub it just has such a great at­mos­phere

— Wendy McFar­lane

the UGLY Bar­tender com­pe­ti­tion.

They also spon­sor the lo­cal chil­dren’s rugby side, The Gem­field Gi­ants.

“Once a year we have Gem­fest, which we’re in­volved in as well. The year be­fore last, Bruce was

pres­i­dent of Gem­fest… (This year) we drove the bus to pick peo­ple up and take them there and we put in money to put the event on,” Mrs McFar­lane said.

How­ever, the suc­cess of the pop­u­lar pub has not been with­out any chal­lenges.

Be­ing such a ru­ral ho­tel, the cou­ple of­ten strug­gle to find per­ma­nent staff, and have of­ten re­lied on back­pack­ers.

De­spite this, they now em­ploy 18 peo­ple rang­ing from 18 to 60 years of age, and are train­ing a few young lo­cals, with the hope that the sap­phire min­ing in­dus­try will at­tract some more per­ma­nent em­ploy­ees and res­i­dents into the area.

“That’s some­thing I would love to do; to in­crease peo­ple’s knowl­edge in

Aus­tralia about the fact that we have re­ally fab­u­lous sap­phires in the Gem­fields and peo­ple do come out and find their own sap­phire,” Mrs McFar­lane said.

The sap­phires are such a com­mod­ity that Mrs McFar­lane re­alised be­fore buy­ing the New Royal and mov­ing to Ruby­vale, that she had al­ready had a taste of the ex­clu­siv­ity of the gems.

“I have a sap­phire ring that I bought the stone for in Bangkok about 20 years ago,” Mrs McFar­lane said.

“I bought that and was told it was from Burma. I bought it home and a friend of Bruce’s had it made into a ring for me. Just re­cently I was chat­ting to the val­uer of gems that does all the sap­phires. She said, ‘that’s a lo­cal sap­phire, that’s not from Burma’.”

As for any plans for the fu­ture, Mrs Far­lane says that they plan to ex­pand their four cab­ins to cater for trav­el­ling fam­i­lies within the new year.


TOP DROP: Bruce McFar­lane, bar man­ager Julie Ni­col, chef Ra­jan Shrestha, of­fice as­sis­tant Nani Maiya Makaju and Wendy McFar­lane are cel­e­brat­ing the New Royal Ho­tel be­ing named best bush pub for a third year in a row.


RIGHT: Bruce and Wendy McFar­lane cel­e­brate be­ing in­ducted into the Hall of Fame.


AWARD WIN­NING: A place to re­lax and en­joy life in Ruby­vale.

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