FOR SALE: Royal Hotel, Bouldercombe on 12 Leanne Hinchliffe Dr, Bouldercombe.
FOR SALE: Royal Hotel, Bouldercombe on 12 Leanne Hinchliffe Dr, Bouldercombe. Amber Hooker

Rising power prices and drought push pub into liquidation

A LIQUIDATOR has been appointed to Bouldercombe's Royal Hotel, The Morning Bulletin can reveal.

Ex-publican Roly Gooding says drought and the high price of power is the reason behind the closure of the town's only hotel.

He also owned pubs in Longreach and Blackall, which are also involved in the liquidation.

Mr Gooding has owned pubs in Central and Western Queensland for most of his working life, including another one in Barcaldine. He says it is just too hard these days, blaming rising utility prices.

"Our power in Longreach went from $14,000 to $19,000 in one quarter over Christmas four years ago... the consumption hadn't changed, just the fees," he said.

"They just put the prices up willy nilly and you have nothing to come back with them."

Mr Gooding has heard in Brisbane they can pay between 17 to 22 cents per one kilowatt while here we pay 46 cents per one kilowatt.

The issue in CQ is there are no energy providers to compete with Ergon Energy, Mr Gooding said.

 

The Longreach Commercial Hotel in 2009. It was burnt down in 1990 and a new building was built.
The Longreach Commercial Hotel in 2009. It was burnt down in 1990 and a new building was built. Contributed

In 1990, his pub, The Commercial Hotel Longreach, was burnt to the ground and had to be rebuilt.

But going through a battle with rising power costs has proved to be even harder than losing your entire asset.

He sold the Longreach Hotel for "nothing" in May last year, as it was worth more than double the selling price. It remains open.

"Just to get out of it... we were losing money all the time," he said.

 

Moving down to Blackall, he took over The Prince of Wales Hotel but found he couldn't make it work either. He still owed Ergon a lot of money and decided one day "he'd had a gutful" and he called bankruptcy.

"Lifetime's worth of work down the drain," Mr Gooding said.

Part of Longreach's demise was when the Department of Natural Resources and Department of Primary Industry offices were closed in the township by the Campbell Newman's government (2012-15).

Mr Gooding says it took 70 families out of the town.

The Bureau of Meteorology also used to have five staff but now it is all automatic. Now with the closure of the agricultural college, it is only another blow.

He also said while there was funding and grants for some farmers, the government had overlooked regional small businesses.

"It's all the subsidies for the cockies not the townies... nobody cares about them," Mr Gooding said.

The future for other rural pubs was also grim, he said.

 

Roly Gooding has owned the Bouldercombe Hotel since 1972 and had to close it down last year after he filed bankruptcy.
Roly Gooding has owned the Bouldercombe Hotel since 1972 and had to close it down last year after he filed bankruptcy. Contributed

Mr Gooding is now living in Blackall and said in the 1980s there were five pubs in the township. Now there are only two.

"There's going to be a lot more people go down too. Nobody is caring about them out in the bush," he said.

"They are all doing it tough here... it's only a matter of time."

The government needs to look at putting in more industry in regional Queensland, Mr Gooding said.

One idea he had was to put in a casino in Longreach.

"You go through America and every 200km there is a casino... you could fly people from Cairns, Brisbane... they have the airport," he said.

"They need industry. You have to look for industry to put in these towns. You can't just rely on the grey nomads going up and down the highway."

Back at the Bouldy Pub, it was listed for sale in 2016 as he could see the downward spiral but he did not get any takers.

"Nobody has any money, it's just the way the economy is going," he said.

"Banks won't lend money in the west now. They just don't want money in the bush."

 

Bouldercombe Pub
Bouldercombe Pub Harry Bruce

Mr Gooding filed for bankruptcy in October and the bank took hold of the property shortly after.

He had owned the pub from 1972 and lived in the town until 1979. It used to be the place to be, he said.

 

ONE PUB TOWN: The Bouldy Pub in October when it was closed.
ONE PUB TOWN: The Bouldy Pub in October when it was closed. Allan Reinikka ROK191018abouldyp

"When I was there we had a Sunday night barbecue. We would have 500 people sitting out in the street and we had the PCYC come out," he said.

He is confident it will be open again sometime soon. He believes the bank will sell the property and "someone will buy it".

"Someone will go in, I would believe in the next six months," he said.

The Morning Bulletin advises the Commercial Hotel in Longreach still operates under new owners and the Royal Hotel, Bouldercombe, and the Prince of Wales Hotel, Blackall remain closed.



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