Historic hotel in wind-down mode
"ARE you closing?" was the most frequently asked question at Gympie's Freemasons Hotel yesterday.
"We don't know," was the answer from staff.
"Another $1 schooner, please" was the most common order and, as stocks diminished, there was decreasing interest in the 40% discount available for all purchases from the bottle shop.
With no change, no notes in the till and a gold coin donation ($2 or $1) for beers of any size, one patron remarked that it had been a long time since Gympie hotels accepted gold in lieu of money.
Another said the prices brought back memories of days when many drinkers swore they would give it away if the price of a pot ever exceeded $1.
One staff member said she understood the donations were going to help flood victims.
A look in the bottle shop midafternoon showed only a few bargains left - the odd stubby of beer and not too many bottles of wine or spirits.
The landmark hotel, on the Duke and Channon Sts corner, runs down Channon St to also occupy the corner of Hannon and Reef Sts.
According to Gympie Regional Council's Local Heritage Register, the old pub was built around 1880 - but probably earlier on that same site - and its first licensee was George Thrower in the 1870s.
It is regarded as being historically and socially significant to Gympie, according to the council website and is certainly a well known part of the city's streetscape.
The hotel seems to have had a troubled recent history, with an associated company, the one which employed its staff, going into liquidation in 2010.
At the time, some former staff were concerned that their superannuation deductions did not appear to have been passed on to the Australian Taxation Office.
Then, some weeks ago, the pokies and gaming machines were turned off after the hotel's licensee surrendered its gaming machine licence.
That happened just before Christmas.
No one from the hotel or its head office was willing to comment on the situation at the time.
But the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation confirmed that none of the Freemason's gaming machines was operational any more "as a result of the licensee surrendering its gaming machine licence.
"The surrender of the gaming machine licence took effect in December 2012," a spokesman for the OLGR said.
"A new gaming machine licence and authorities would be required for any restart of gaming," the spokesman said.