David and Caroline Scicluna rescued the North Blinman Hotel, an original miner’s pub in the Flinders Ranges, SA, to maintain it as a vibrant tourist hub.

Story Gretel Sneath  Photos Robert Lang

Thirty-four years ago, David Scicluna first locked eyes with his future bride, Caroline, across a crowded bar at the North Blinman Hotel, and never looked back. In 2017, the couple took over the hotel, having successfully run the nearby Angorichina Village for almost three decades.

“We weren’t interested [in the pub] in the beginning, and then, after a while, Caroline said to me one night, ‘You know, if it wasn’t for the pub I would never have met you, so I want to buy it’,” David says. “And I said, ‘You’re the boss, love. You do whatever you want to do’.”

“Gee you’re full of it, David,” Caroline scowls, prompting howls of laughter from her husband.

The historic hotel had gone into receivership six months earlier and the region was feeling the loss. “It was a real Flinders Ranges hub, and when it closed there was nowhere to go – it was just destroying the area,” David says.

Blinman itself is tiny – a recent newborn has taken the population to 19 – but the quaint outback mining hamlet dotted with hillside cottages is a popular stopover for travellers. “Everyone was shocked to find that [the pub] was shut, and people coming to stay with us at Angorichina Village couldn’t believe it either, so we just decided it was time to increase or decrease – buy the pub and go with it, or get rid of the village, because the area was suffering too much,” David says.

This story excerpt is from Issue #135

Outback Magazine: Feb/Mar 2021