23 January 2024

Down but not out: Lion's Den to roar again on Australia Day

| Cape York Weekly
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Tahnee shovelling mud out of the Lion’s Den after the flooding.

After being hit by catastrophic flooding in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Jasper, one of the most colourful watering holes in the country is set to celebrate its reopening with a roar on Friday.

A recovery effort led by the Rossville and Helenvale community to remove damaged infrastructure, mud and debris from the iconic Lion’s Den Hotel following the December deluge has ensured the pub will be operational on Australia Day, albeit at a reduced capacity.

While the pub is yet to return to full functionality, patrons are being called upon to do their bit to assist the recovery by turning up to celebrate Australia Day and putting their money across the bar.

In a social media post, the pub said only unpowered camping would be available, but that the ground remained “very, very wet”, and that the Rossville Retreat had offered to take overflow campers.

“They are unpowered also, and have been in the same situation with wet ground, but we will make it work,” the Lion’s Den Hotel said in the Facebook post.

“They will charge $30 per site, but all money going back into the recovery to help replace items destroyed in the floods from people’s homes.”

Darryl Paradise rests out the portable bar donated by Carlton and United breweries so the Den can have beer on tap for its Australia Day celebrations.

With the pub’s kitchen still out of action, the Lions Club will operate a barbecue at the cash-only event.

Musician Shannon Hunter will provide entertainment for patrons and told Cape York Weekly he was thrilled to be performing to aid the recovery of the community “church”.

“It’s more than a pub to the locals – it’s almost a church,” he said.

“It’s almost a religious experience for these people – they go there, catch up and it’s a community hub.

“It’s a lot of things to a lot of people.”

Hunter, who normally performs monthly at the pub, said he knew the flood disaster would not sound the death knell for it or the Rossville and Helenvale communities.

“I’ve had a few people say they thought the flood would be the end of the Den, but I told them they were underestimating the people of Rossville and what the Den means to them,” he explained.

“The people around the Den won’t stop until it’s up and running again. I love the community there – they’re all a bunch of maniacs, but they’re good-hearted people and it’s a strong community, and I just love being up there with them.”

In addition to live music, plans are in place for a range of uniquely Australian games, including thong throwing and – if they have not all been washed out to sea – cane toad races.

The main bar at the Lion’s Den went underwater, but will open this Friday.

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