With a lovely lack of luxury, pomp and poker machines, Clancy’s Overflow Hotel in Isisford gives visitors a heady sense of times gone by.

Story By Paula Heelan

Rolling out of bed and negotiating the rickety floorboards to the bathroom upstairs at Clancy’s Overflow Hotel in Isisford, Qld, is a bit like being on a boat. There’s a definite tilt – maybe even a gentle rocking – and you need sea legs to get around. Downstairs, on the back lawn, a couple of people are tucked in swags, having slept the night in the pub’s backyard. This rambling inn, 112 years old, was full last night.

The new publican, Hans Budding, is creating a welcoming, family-friendly atmosphere. Letting a few people unroll their swags out the back isn’t a problem. “I want to run a family pub with dogs [he has three], where people can relax, read a book, do nothing – and where there’s internet access for business people,” he says. Hans’s ex-wife, Catriona, and their twin boys, aged 15, and two daughters, 19 and 21, are arriving shortly for a six-week stay. “It will be lots of fun – my youngest daughter is at university in Brisbane (and) my oldest stayed in Holland with Catriona and my boys. The boys love Australia and will hopefully have a future in this country one day – the best place in the world.”

In the heart of Central West Queensland on the Outer Barcoo, Isisford is west of Blackall, south of Ilfracombe and 120km south-east of Longreach – “in the middle of everywhere” as the locals say. The road to Isisford, particularly on dusk, is an experience in itself. Avoiding the plethora of wildlife is a challenge, with hordes of kangaroos, flocks of emus and plenty of feral pigs to steer clear of.

Emigrating from Holland on a business visa nearly three years ago, Hans had two sabbatical years at Pacific Pines on Queensland’s Gold Coast before finding the Isisford pub for sale on the internet at $400,000. “I came to Isisford in July [2010] to have a look and fell in love with the place,” he says. “I began negotiations and moved here in February this year. I’ve never had a pub before, but I can tap a good beer. It’s my little paradise and no one can take it away from me.”

This story excerpt is from Issue #78

Outback Magazine: Aug/Sept 2011