by Louise Shannon
THE New Royal Hotel at Rubyvale has been inducted into the Queensland Hotel Association's (QHA) Hall of Fame, as the pub's owners praise the awards for their recognition of rural and regional businesses.
Owners Wendy and Bruce McFarlane said the QHA awards night last week - with a record 1130 industry members in attendance - was a "brilliant night”.
Mrs McFarlane said they were honoured to be initiated into the Hall of Fame after winning the Best Bush Pub category each year for the past three years.
"We're blown away, both of us. Running a pub was new to us and we've now been running this hotel for four years. It's really exciting.”
She said one of the first changes the couple had made when they bought the pub was outlawing the use of any "bad” language.
"We really worked hard and it wasn't easy at the start. We controlled the language in the pub because the nomads said they wouldn't come here because it was too rough.
"And now they come in! That was the main thing ... and we concentrated on showing respect.”
Mrs McFarlane said it had become more difficult to attract businesses and run pubs and hotels in remote areas, but the awards provided encouragement and inspiration.
"The awards are not just for little country pubs like us, but they did feature quite a few country pubs. You're not left out when you're in the country.
"When you run a hotel in the country, you've got to work a little bit differently or a bit smarter.”
Mrs McFarlane said the hotel, in the heart of the Queensland Gemfields, was well supported by a loyal group of locals, sapphire miners, and tourists.
"There's quite a few jewellers in the area who come here, and we have all the nomads in the tourist season during the winter months.”
She said one couple recently celebrated their 80th birthdays at the hotel, with guests coming from around Australia and the UK.
The hotel also has four log cabins and was a finalist in the Best Pub-style accommodation. The cabins are popular with families staying in the area for fossicking.
Wendy paid tribute to the hotel's 12 staff and said, "When we first arrived, the main source of staff was from outside the area but in recent years we have been able to recruit local staff and provide training and now the staff share our love of the area and our very special pub.
"I think any pub in a country area is also good for the community. People come and have meetings at our pub, or come and catch up with friends.”
A Nepalese chef who has been with the hotel for four years has been cooking up popular Sunday roasts and has become well-known for his high-quality pub food menus.
At the awards night, Tom McGuire, president of the Queensland Hotels Association, paid tribute to the Queensland hotel industry. He said Queensland hotels served more than 55 million meals a year, hosted 42,000 live music acts in its venues and employed 80,000 people, and he mentioned the significant role country pubs played in the state.