Steve Patrick is the publican at the Royal Hotel Harrisville, a pretty pub in Harrisville originally opened in 1875 as the Harrisville Inn.
When Steve bought it in 2011 it was closed with an old guy and two cats living inside.
The old guy, or his cats for that matter, wouldn’t recognise the place now.
His inspiration was to make it a family-friendly pub.
“It’s a tough game, country pubs,” Steve said.
“We decided not to go with pokies or keno.
“Ninety-nine per cent of our clientele are glad we don’t have them.
“We didn’t want to see the kids sitting in the car waiting and going without a meal because their parents were inside on the pokies.
“A lot of people in the pub game say you can’t survive without it and I probably agree with them, but our main focus is good meals, good beverages whether it’s a coffee or a cold beer and functions.
“We’ve been able to scrap by without them.”
As functions became their main bread and butter, the Patricks found accommodation went hand in hand with big events at the pub.
They offered camping but started to think about expanding their accommodation offering.
“It was just a novelty thing, we decided to look for some train carriages,” Steve said.
The second branch line in Queensland was from Ipswich through to Harrisville and went onto Dugandan in 1880.
“Because it was a railway town we thought we’d stick with that type of thing. If I won the lotto, I’d build the old train station here too, it doesn’t exist anymore,” Steve said.
“We found the camp wagon from Kalbar, it was being used to sell lollies out of. The others we put in for the tender at The Workshops Rail Museum.”
Image courtesy of Queensland Rail: Steam locomotive C17 No.752 arrives at Harrisville railway station, in 1962, with a short goods train. The line closed beyond Churchill near Ipswich, in 1964.
It was at this point Steve enlisted the help of his father, Denis Patrick.
The Patricks have a long line of ancestors who worked in the railways and Denis was no exception.
“My Grandfather was a cabinetmaker in the railways. My brother was a fitter and I was a coach painter and sign writer,” Denis said.
“I haven’t been at the railways for 30 years, so it was funny to be back painting carriages again.”
It was a mammoth effort involving several crane and semi-trailers to move them and a lot of work was done levelling the ground and laying real track for them to sit on.
Steve has a mate who has worked in the railway for 35 years.
“I like to tell him I have laid more track than he has,” Steve chuckles.
Steve and Denis spent a year renovating and rebuilding the camp wagon which is now offered as accommodation for $120 per night. It has a queen bed up one end and bunk beds up the other. It has air conditioning, toilet, shower and a fridge.
Work is still progressing on the other two.
“It the one closest to the river I am most excited about”, Denis said.
“You can get up in the morning and look right down the river, walk a couple of metres and pop a fishing line in.”
Inside the train carriages that is now accommodation at the Royal Hotel Harrisville.