With the renovation and relaunching of the Radio Springs Hotel, Lyonville, Vic, has found its heart once more.

Story By Donna Kelly

When Jackie Airey and Ken Parfrey bought the Radio Springs Hotel in Lyonville, it was no longer the life of the tiny hamlet in Victoria’s Central Highlands. The 90-year-old pub, which had once been owned by TV and radio personality Ernie Sigley, had been closed for years and fallen into disrepair. Lyonville was a town without a community hub.
Jackie and Ken bought the hotel in 1997, originally as a holiday home, but started renovations when they realised they wanted a tree change. However, it would be another 11 years before the hotel, now known as ‘The Centre of the Universe’ and with a street sign to prove it, would open.
In 2009, the restoration was complete and the couple threw open the doors on Good Friday, expecting that would be the quiet start to their new life. They were swamped. The kitchen couldn’t keep up, diners were facing long waits for meals and, in the end, Ken says, he just stood at the door apologising as people left. “We had only been in the region on weekends – and we also were only working on our restoration,” Ken says. “We had no idea about the hospitality business, that Good Friday would be busy, and that we wouldn’t be able to keep up. It was a nightmare.”
But, always optimistic, the couple continued with their plans and now have customers, some who swore never to return, and regulars at their bar and in their dining rooms. “We knew we had something special,” Ken says. “We just had to get all our systems in place. And we’ve done that now.” And the Radio Springs Hotel is special. It’s funky and retro and historic and inviting. There’s the ubiquitous bar, where Ken plays a mischievous mine host, a variety of dining options including the private red and green rooms, four beautifully appointed en suite rooms and live music all weekend.

This Story is from Issue #96

Outback Magazine: Aug/Sep 2014