The Coburn Hotel in Cockburn, SA, is run on love.

Story John Dunn  Photos Todd R Murphy

The closure of the hotel at Cockburn, in South Australia’s north-east, was something long-time resident Iris Williams couldn’t contemplate. “I refused to stand by and let it happen,” Iris says of the day in late 2016 when the licensee shut the doors and left. “So I decided to do something about it”.

As president of the Progress Association, she convened a meeting that agreed that Cockburn, and the 18 people who live there astride the Barrier Highway, just 100 metres on the South Australian side of the border with New South Wales, needed its hotel. “It’s our focal point,” Iris says. “This is where the locals meet and where we discuss the things that are important to us. If the pub shuts, so will the town.”

The association leased the hotel at a rate that was considered very reasonable – not surprising, because the hotel is owned by Iris’s son, Ryan Esam. “I live in Queensland now but was happy to help Mum and the folk from where I grew up,” Ryan says. “I’m so proud to see the pub back in business again.”

This story excerpt is from Issue #121

Outback Magazine: October/November 2018