NOT FORGOTTEN: The Grand Hotel's reputation lives on, photo circa 1915.
NOT FORGOTTEN: The Grand Hotel's reputation lives on, photo circa 1915. State Library of Queensland

Grand history: pubs big part of Gympie's retail heritage

WITH gold running through the region's veins, fossickers needed somewhere to relax after a day's work, and Gympie did not disappoint.

Records show that from 1867-1900, 157 licensed premises were running in the region, with more than 70 in Mary St alone in 1869.

While iconic pubs like the Australian, the Royal, and Mt Pleasant still dot the landscape, one remarkable hotel's reputation has survived well beyond its years: The Grand.

Now in her 90th year, resident Diana Lilley said the hotel, which was owned at one point by her parents Hughie and Nancy (or Nan) McLeod, had a sterling reputation in the town.

And there was one point in particular which kept guests coming back.

"It was very popular because of the beer. Dad was very strict about cleaning the pipes,” Mrs Lilley said.

"We had some lovely parties there.”

While it may have been a hit with revellers, Mrs Lilley said it was not quite so beloved in the family at first.

"I know my mother wasn't very happy about it,” she said.

"Dad just decided this himself, that he wanted to buy this hotel in Gympie.”

The Grand did not ignore help from other Gympie businesses either.

"There was a butcher shop just on the next corner, and he (Hughie) would send the kegs of beer down there in the cold room... and then one of the boys would roll the keg up when it was nice and cold.”

There were bad days, too.

"I remember one night being woken up by two railway men because there had been a dreadful accident at Traveston,” she said.

Being built over an old mine shaft started the pub's demise in 1951.

"It started collapsing right in the front foyer of the hotel,” Mrs Lilley said.

"They built a temporary hotel there for a while.”

The Royal Hotel Gympie, Cnr Mary and Monkland Sts in the late 1880s.
The Royal Hotel as it was in the the late 1880s. Contributed

Gympie's pubs and hotels have a rather rich history, with reports showing of the multitude which were razed, 19 were rebuilt - including one a rather astounding three times.

The pubs eventually went the way of the gold rush, dropping from their seemingly endless ranks to 46 at the turn of the century.

Now 11 still trade in Gympie, while satellite towns like Imbil and Kandanga also keep the highway from past and present open.