Goondiwindi’s Victoria Hotel has been the town’s social hub since it was built almost 90 years ago.

Story By Kirsty McKenzie

As years go, 1925 was a big one for the south-east Queensland town of Goondiwindi. The town celebrated the advent of mains power and reticulated water, and William and Margaret Pendock engaged master builder Bill Bell to turn their Victoria Hotel into the landmark it is today. The Pendocks spent £9000 converting the modest low-slung timber pub they had owned since 1910 into an impressive two-storey brick and timber edifice complete with a slightly off-kilter decorative tower on top. The Vic, as the hotel is universally known, quickly became the social centre of town and, barring a stumble in the early 2000s, has remained that way to the present day.
The original hotel was built as a Cobb & Co staging post in the 1880s and, although the arrival of the railway line in 1908 put an end to horse-drawn coach travel, The Vic continued on as a popular watering hole for the Queensland/New South Wales border town.
The Pendock family’s association continued across three generations until the 1960s, when the pub was sold to George Pippos. George and three friends wrote themselves into Australian history by buying Goondiwindi’s greatest claim to fame, the legendary racehorse ‘Gunsynd’ (Goondiwindi Syndicate).
Gordon Fleming, The Vic’s resident historian and pub tour guide, says a local grazier, Gerome ‘Winks’ McMicking, was in the cattleman’s bar at the front of the hotel one evening in 1969 when he confessed to his friends, newsagent Bill Bishop and draper JV Coorey, that he’d found a “sure thing” in the catalogue for the upcoming yearling sales in Brisbane, but he couldn’t afford it. From behind the bar George volunteered $1000 and the mates matched the offer, giving them a total spend of $4000, which was plenty of money to buy the chosen grey for $1600 and to engage trainer Bill Wehlow. “Gunsynd enjoyed moderate success in his early days winning more than $29,000 from 12 races,” Gordon says. “But he really hit his form in 1971 when he was transferred to Tommy Smith’s stables.”

This Story is from Issue #87

Outback Magazine: Feb/Mar 2013