NEW ERA: The relatively new owner of Gympie’s classic Australian Hotel, Rolf Mueller says the renovated and partly rebuilt hotel will be a whole new asset for Gympie’s foodie and visitor economy.
NEW ERA: The relatively new owner of Gympie’s classic Australian Hotel, Rolf Mueller says the renovated and partly rebuilt hotel will be a whole new asset for Gympie’s foodie and visitor economy.

Classic Gympie pub under reno – owner says he must be crazy

ROLF Mueller freely admits he must be crazy.

The latest owner of Gympie’s landmark Australian Hotel, Rolf Mueller, says it goes with the territory.

“I used to be a professional fisherman,” he says, as though that explains everything.

The other life skill that has come in handy for the former high school maths teacher, is that in yet another episode of his life, he was a builder.

Perfect training, he says, for the current project, rebuilding one of the great Federation-style timber buildings of the Gympie region.

Rebuilt upstairs verandas are a newly restored trademark for the grand old Federation-style Australian Hotel building.
Rebuilt upstairs verandas are a newly restored trademark for the grand old Federation-style Australian Hotel building.

The project has involved extensive renovation throughout the venerable timber building, which has been riding high on the Gympie skyline for 130 years.

“After that I had a Tuna Longline business with my two sons, Ben and Joe, for 23 years.

“We started fishing off Sydney but in 1996 came to Mooloolaba and fished from there.

“I wanted to look around for a hotel with potential and went as far as Winton.

Rolf Mueller rushes to get the paint on before it dries as he renovates The Australian Hotel on a super-hot day in Gympie.
Rolf Mueller rushes to get the paint on before it dries as he renovates The Australian Hotel on a super-hot day in Gympie.

“But when I saw this, I thought, ‘This is the perfect project for me.”

“A lot of the old floorboards inside were showing their age and the floor coverings were terrible, so I installed hybrid timber flooring upstairs as well as in the entry and dining room. I have completely renovated upstairs.”

Plenty of room to relax on the Australian Hotel's upstairs verandah
Plenty of room to relax on the Australian Hotel's upstairs verandah

He says all this with a paint brush in his hand as he battles to get another wall done before the customers start arriving.

The view from the highest point of the Gympie skyline, the Australian Hotel’s upstairs veranda.
The view from the highest point of the Gympie skyline, the Australian Hotel’s upstairs veranda.

“I’ve got to keep painting while we talk, or the paint dries on the bush. They reckon it’s going to be 40 degrees today.”

But the exceptional dry head across most of eastern Australia was an advantage for the rushing renovator. The paint was drying on the walls at a rate which meant the room would be reasonably customer resistant within the hour.

But the everyday work goes on amid the renovations. Rolf Mueller in his bottleshop.
But the everyday work goes on amid the renovations. Rolf Mueller in his bottleshop.

Speaking of heat, the stunning upstairs renovations include in-room air conditioners in all 11 bedrooms, so guest can do their own climate control to their own favourite settings.

“And every room has a vanity and a large flat screen TV.

“I hate motels with tiny televisions,” he said.

One of the nrewly renovated rooms, each with its own climate control and large flat-screen TV.
One of the nrewly renovated rooms, each with its own climate control and large flat-screen TV.

“I’ve also completely renovated all the shared facilities, including two bathrooms, three separate toilets and an upstairs kitchen and laundry.

“My idea is to promote accommodation and weekend getaway packages.

New bathrooms are an important feature of the Australian Hotel renovation
New bathrooms are an important feature of the Australian Hotel renovation

“Gympie always has something on the weekend, whether it’s the Rattler or Gold Rush celebrations or just all the sightseeing countryside.

“We used 350 tubes of No More Gaps renovating the walls and we’ve now completely rebuilt the veranda, with new decking and rails and joists underneath.

“They were mostly rotten, and understandably so after 130 years.

“Now we can have functions upstairs and the whole area is roofed so it doesn’t matter if it rains.

“And people love the views. This is the highest point in Gympie City,” he said.

“I bought the place in April and we’ve just started, about three or four weeks ago, taking bookings for people wanting to dine and entertain on the upstairs verandas.

“People can just ring us and tell us what they want, whether it’s platters and finger food or a full restaurant menu with drinks.

“We actually like people to tell us what they want, because we will do it for them,” he said. Gary, our Chef is fantastic – he

is happy to discuss and organise any get together or Function you want.

”We’re getting great reviews and the pub seems popular with visitors and locals.

“Locals keep the pub side going. I’m very much a hands-on renovator and I have a terrific manager in Cara as well as terrific staff to keep the pub going while I’m painting and filling gaps and hammering away.”

“I’m 71. I’m probably too old for this,” says the ever-enthusiastic Mr Mueller.

“People tell me I’m mad, especially my wife Christyne, but we have been happily married for 49 years.”

“Well I am mad, but it keeps me motivated and excited,” he said.

“It’s not as exciting as tuna fishing, but I’m pretty enthusiastic about it all the same,” he said.