7 February 2024

Flood devastation fails to stop historic Rossville pub's reopening

| Chisa Hasegawa
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Judy Fry, cook and local girl

Publican Judy Fry (right) said seeing locals and regulars back at the Lion’s Den Hotel made the long and muddy clean up worth it. Photo: Supplied (Lion’s Den Hotel).

After weeks of cleaning up water and never-ending mud, the iconic Lion’s Den Hotel opened its doors to eager locals and regulars for an Australia Day celebration.

The Den, as it is affectionately known to Rossville locals, was full of life and joy with around 300 to 350 people in attendance.

Publican Judy Fry, who has been at the Lion’s Den Hotel for 10 years this November, said the reopening gave a huge boost of morale that the hard work and long, muddy days had been worth it.

“It was a really beautiful day,” Ms Fry said.

“It was really good to see all the locals and regulars come back.

“There are people that have been coming to the Lion’s Den longer than I’ve been here, so I think it was personal for those people too.”

The much-loved publican said volunteers had a tough time cleaning the place before they welcomed back patrons on 26 January.

“It’s hard, because you clean one room and the dirt just goes to another room,” Ms Fry said.

“No matter what you touch, even though you’ve just cleaned it, everything still produced mud.

“There was a couple of ladies who came and helped us out, and the sweat was pouring off them, but they just kept at it.”

READ ALSO Down but not out: Lion’s Den to roar again on Australia Day

Running the Den with the help of her sister and brother-in-law for the past decade, Ms Fry said it was devasting to see the watering hole in ruins after recent flooding.

“I like things to be running smoothly,” she said.

“It really made me cranky when I saw the state it was in, because I knew we had to start from scratch again.”

Also lost in the flood was a historic pianola – a self-playing piano – which had been a part of the Lion’s Den Hotel since it’s inception.

“It would have been here since day one, but it was just completely ruined,” Ms Fry said.

“It was really old, so it was pretty battered before, but it just couldn’t be saved which was upsetting.”

She said there was still a long way to go with the cleanup, but that spirits remained high and progress was being made.

“We’re hoping to be fully open for Easter and the start of dry season, which is still two months away and everything is coming into shape,” she said.

“We’ve got a lot of things organised, it’s just about putting them in place.

“It’s also such an old pub so we want to redo all the electric wiring as well.”

Ms Fry thanked her staff and volunteers, who worked tirelessly to help the beloved venue open for the Australia Day celebration.

“The cooks that I kept on and the volunteers that came to help us out, they worked long days to make this happen,” she said.

“People have their own problems and own lives to live, but we’re a community and we all work together.

“If we’ve got five minutes, we help each other out.”

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