Reopening a small country pub may just revive the heart of an entire community.
The Conapaira Hotel at Rankins Springs used to be the place to go to catch up with old mates or just to have a cold drink after a hard day on the farm. It was well-known to truckies and travellers on the Mid-Western Highway, but last year it fell on hard times and closed its doors.
However, at the end of November it will be reopened by a few mates who got sick of waiting for someone else to do it.
Colin Parsons and two of his friends were talking about the small town’s lack of a watering hole over dinner a few months ago and decided to have a go at it themselves.
“In a small country town the pub is sort of a meeting place,” Mr Parsons said.
“Since it’s been closed people have had to arrange to meet at a friend’s place or go 65 kilometres into Griffith, it hasn’t been real good not having a pub.
“The three of us were already very busy but we got together and thought we’d have a go.”
The country pub was the social hub of the community, according to farmer’s wife and school bus driver Andrea Finch, who has lived in the town for 30 years. Mrs Finch said it was “terrific” the pub was reopening.
“You don’t see people like you used to, people tend to stick to their own groups without the pub,” Mrs Finch said.
“You might get to have a drink with someone you don’t normally see, it keeps the communication lines open.”
Fewer than 300 people live in Rankins Springs, which sits about halfway between Griffith and Lake Cargelligo, but Mrs Finch said “hundreds more”, such as farmers and labourers, would travel up to 50 kilometres to visit the pub.
“It’s terrific they’re making an effort to get it going again,” Mrs Finch said.
“There’s been a real hole in the town without it, we’ve lost a lot of traffic and visitors.”
Sally Argent-Smith grew up on a farm near Rankins Springs and while she moved away after school, she couldn’t think of anywhere better when it came time to raise her own family.
“I wanted to bring my kids up in a nice community with a good way of life where they’re looked after by everybody,” Mrs Argent-Smith said.
“The town’s reduced in numbers, the farms are getting bigger, but there’s still the same community commitment that hasn’t changed.”
When national radio duo Hamish and Andy announced they would visit the pub for the grand reopening on November 29, Mr Parsons said, Rankins Springs started trending on Google.
“Everyone was Googling ‘where the hell is Rankins Springs’,” he laughed.