What is a country town without its pub?
While all country towns have their own unique makeup, there is one thing that unites them all – a love of their local.
In the Southern Tablelands community of Dalton, the town has been without a pub for the better part of two years.
That is all set to change this Saturday (19 December), when The Royal Hotel in Dalton taps the kegs and begins pouring beer once more, courtesy of new owners Craig and Jeannette Palmer.
“Craig and I bought it in September and have just been doing some renovations, and getting it up and running again,” Jeannette said.
It’s been a labour of love for the couple, who say they decided to ask about purchasing the pub after driving past the town hall one day.
“Craig’s been coming out to Dalton since he was 13, doing shearing work for his parents’ neighbours, who had farmed here for generations,” Jeannette said.
“So he’d come here once a month helping out, that’s how he knows Dalton, and we’ve been driving past the pub for quite a while now.”
“We just drove past one day and looked at the hall and went, ‘Oh, there are so many people at the town hall! Imagine if the pub was open, they’d all have somewhere to go’.
“It just got stuck in our head and we thought, ‘We should just buy the pub’. We followed through and thought we’d get an inspection and get it out of our system. We walked through the pub and just saw so much potential.”
It’s become increasingly less of an impulsive decision to buy a pub, as prices across regional NSW continue to rise, but they decided to take the plunge and now they hope to see the pub re-emerge as the town’s meeting place, where people can gather and celebrate together.
While Saturday’s soft opening will be with a limited menu and no access to the pool table and dining room, eventually the pub will reopen all of those areas with a traditional pub menu and a special focus on quality salad options.
The central focus is creating a “family environment” at the pub.
“Our goal is to have a family environment because I think previously it had a bit more of a male vibe,” said Jeannette. “A family orientated pub where everyone can come to gather. There’s not much around our area that has a beautiful beer garden where you can sit down and enjoy Sunday afternoons with family.
“We’ve had a lot of people in the community say, ‘It’ll be so nice to bring the family down, it wasn’t like that before’.”
Dalton Community and District Association Incorporated President Maree Dowling said the community “can’t wait to get back”.
“That’s a place where everyone comes together and we could sell raffle tickets and things like that for different things,” said Ms Dowling.
“One thing it will be particularly good for is the elderly who live in the town and don’t have anyone that they live with, so they can come together and talk to people.”
To stay updated on the progress at Dalton pub, head to The Royal Hotel Dalton Facebook page.