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New outdoor dining area among changes proposed for century-old hotel

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A 124-year-old hinterland hotel is in line for an expansion and makeover, with an application lodged with council to undertake the works.

The proposal for the Woombye Pub includes adding a new outdoor dining area with a pizza kitchen, extending the public bar and reinstating the original veranda.

Adam Diggle, the national operations manager for the hotel’s operator the Norton Hospitality Group, said the expansion plans were part of an overall vision to reinvigorate the hotel.

“This is the third stage of a few stages to redevelop the property,” he said.

“Stage one was a new family space, restaurant and playground, which launched nearly 18 months ago. Just prior to Christmas we finalised the new gaming room part of the development.

“We’re now on Stage 3, which is what you see on our recent development application.

“That application would incorporate reinstating the original veranda from the public bar and a lovely new outdoor dining area.

“The public bar will be extended into the original veranda. Quite a while ago someone decided to put some windows in there and get rid of the veranda – we’re reinstating that.”

How the outdoor dining area could look.

A town planning assessment report submitted to Sunshine Coast Council by Brennan Planning Pty Ltd on behalf of applicant Woombye Pub Holdings Pty Ltd states that the extension would comprise a total additional use area of 219sqm, which would include 19sqm from the lounge extension.

“The outdoor dining area open space will be of a high-quality landscaped design, comprising timber pergolas, open grassed areas, paving, decks, feature plantings and a pizza kitchen,” it states.

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“The design will foster a family-friendly environment, appeal to a range of demographics, and assist with activating the streetscape.”

The original Woombye hotel was established in 1900. It currently occupies almost 5000sqm on the corner of Blackall and Barts streets.

An artist’s impression of the garden, upper balcony and verandah extension.

Mr Diggle said the cost and timeframe for the proposed renovations were still to be determined.

“We’re very keen to get into this mid-year, but it’s all depending on this application process,” he said.

“Hopefully everyone’s in support of what we’re doing and we don’t get any sort of objections or interruption to the process. If that’s the case we could be starting as of July 1.

“Budget-wise the goalposts are moving all the time so it could be upwards to $2 million, we just have to see how it all washes out.”

The original hotel was opened in 1900. Picture: Steele Taylor

As for future plans for the venue, Mr Diggle could not reveal any more information.

“This will be the biggest stage of the lot,” he said.

“There is a possibility that we’ll be looking to do a fourth stage but we’re not really quite sure as to what that could look like yet.”

The Norton Hospitality Group is a family-owned Tasmanian-based company with nine venues in Brisbane, Melbourne, Rockhampton, Hobart, Launceston and Queenstown. It has been involved with the Woombye Pub for 14 years.

“We’re really strong advocates for the town of Woombye,” Mr Diggle said.

“We’re very passionate about the town and we really feel that these improvements to the hotel will benefit the whole town overall and bring a lot more tourism to the area.

“We’ve been investing a lot of money into the upkeep of the old girl for quite a while now, so she’s looking very sharp and improving by the day.”

The application is subject to code assessment.

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