Kabra Hotel's Joe Lidster.
Kabra Hotel's Joe Lidster.

Big COVID-19 party in the works for rural hotel

THERE is going to be a roaring party at the Kabra Country Hotel for a week when the coronavirus restrictions are lifted, publican Joe Lidster says.

While she is running at 30 per cent of her normal monthly income compared to the same time last year, Joe has a positive attitude.

The hotel, located just off the Capricorn Highway 20 minutes west of Rockhampton, has been closed for the past month due to government restrictions.

The only choice she has is to offer takeaway meals and alcohol, which has had immeasurable support from the locals.

"They are still coming in and buying meals, everyone has been great and doing what they can," Joe said.

"I appreciate everything big or small that the locals are contributing to the hotel because that is what is going to keep us going."

The country hotel also has accommodation and Joe has had some workers from the Rookwood Weir project staying there.

"It's a lifesaver having that still going ahead, it's been a god send having them stay here," Joe said.

Just before the restrictions came into effect, Kabra Hotel hosted a car and bike show.

It was a huge success and the profits have helped them get through the low period.

Joe said she was running on 30 per cent of what she normally would be and expected next month to be down 15 to 20 per cent.

Joe did have to put some staff off but has been able to put some back on through the JobKeeper program.

She said having to lay them off was one of the hardest things she has had to do as a business owner.

"You feel responsible for them, they are like my family," Joe said.

Kabra Hotel's Joe Lidster is offering takeaway meals and alcohol.
Kabra Hotel's Joe Lidster is offering takeaway meals and alcohol.

This unexpected closure is another blow for rural pubs that have been faced with the rising costs of licensing, insurance and electricity in the past few years.

Bouldercombe Hotel closed in October 2018, as the publican owner filed for bankruptcy citing the high electricity charges and drought as the precursor.

Joe has been the publican at Kabra for the past six years and said things were starting to look really good and she was seeing the light at the end of the tunnel after putting in a lot of hard work.

"It's just another hurdle to try and jump," Joe said.

She put in a $50,000 solar system a while ago which has halved her power bill.

"You have to spend money to make money," she said.

"I know electricity is a huge costs especially for the little hotels but it depends on how invested you want to be in your own business.

"Where there is a will, there is a way."

Joe has big dreams of redoing the bar and replacing the carpet inside the hotel and while now would be a good chance to do it while it is closed, she isn't able to.

"We've got to hang on to everything we've got so we can scratch through and make it," she said.

Joe isn't expecting to see the hotel back in full swing until September.

"I can't see things going back to our way of normal straight off the bat," she said.

But in the meantime, she has faith in her "great patron base who come from all walks of life".

"There is never any dramas, we have the local patrons of Kabra and surrounds, the truck drivers that come through and the bike clubs and social clubs, the young country fellas, we've got the families," Joe said.

"The bar is a bit sad at the moment, all the bar stools are up, the front cold room is turned off.

"But the day will come when the restrictions are lifted and it's going to be a huge party out here.

"It should be a good day and even week."



1232 Capricorn Hwy, Kabra. 20 minutes from Rockhampton

• Phone 4933 1207

• Accommodation available

• Takeaway homemade country style meals and alcohol

• Groceries for sale

• Truck pad open and showers

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