The Stockman Hotel in Texas, Qld, has been revived by a local cattle woman who created a family-friendly pub, then encouraged bikers to come to her town.

Story + photos Ken Eastwood

The Royal Hotel in Texas, Qld, used to have such a fierce reputation that Lee Kernaghan’s rocking ode to the town includes the lines: “At the set of daylight at the Royal Hotel, You get a beer, get a feed, get a fight as well”.

“We had nowhere to take our kids for a meal,” says hotelier Helen Rush, who took over the place 11 years ago, refurbished it, changed its name to the Stockman Hotel, and built such a great reputation that she was named the 2015 Queensland Hotelier of the Year. Helen got rid of the vinyl floors and plastic chairs, and replaced them with a warm, family-friendly lounge-style interior and her welcoming smile. “I believe if you put people in a pigsty, they act like a pig,” she says. “We were the first locals to own it since it was built in the ’50s, so very little work had been done on it.” Plumbing, electrical wiring and the cold rooms all needed replacing in the 50-year-old building, as did the dated menu. Now the pub offers fresh, hearty meals, using lots of local produce. “Everything these days in pubs is all about the food,” Helen says. “I’ve had three chefs since then. They’ve all been fabulous, and they’ve been well worth the investment.”

This story excerpt is from Issue #112

Outback Magazine: Apr/May 2017