1 April 2024

Legacy of beloved Laura publican 'week or so' from opening doors

| Lyndon Keane
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New Peninsula Hotel owner Stuart Wiggins surveys the beloved pub’s collection of memorabilia ahead of the watering hole’s reopening in April. Photo: Supplied.

All going to plan, the new owner of Laura’s Peninsula Hotel will be able to reflect on the heartache and hard work of the past 12 months as he shares a beer with patrons in less than a week.

The watering hole, which has been a must-visit venue for locals and Cape York tourists alike for decades, has been closed since early 2023, following the death of former owner and publican Kev “Stumpy” Darmody.

New owner Stuart Wiggins, a close friend and former business partner of Mr Darmody, told Cape York Weekly the pub was “a week or so” from opening, adding the 12-month closure and wet season had nearly caused him and his band of volunteers to flee back to the big smoke.

“Mate, it was a bit overwhelming when I first looked,” he laughed after spending a week and plenty of elbow grease preparing the pub for its reopening.

“The grass and weeds out the back, and mould out the front, all from the wet season after being untouched for 12 months.

“I knew what I was expecting, but to actually see it, I did quickly think about getting back in the car and driving away.”

The Cape York wet season created an overwhelming starting point for Stuart Wiggins and his volunteer army as they attempted to reopen Laura’s Peninsula Hotel after a 12-month closure. Photo: Supplied.

Thankfully, the pub has almost been returned to its former glory, with the addition of Stumpy’s Bar as an homage to its much-loved, often prickly publican.

“We’ve repainted the bar, and we’re just putting all the memorabilia up today and tonight,” Mr Wiggins said.

“It’s starting to look like a pub again.”

The former jockey and entrepreneur admitted there had been moments of emotion as the cleaning crew put the shine back into the pub.

“There are definitely a lot of memories of Kev here,” Mr Wiggins reflected.

“He was me best mate; you don’t get mates like him again.

“We’re going to have a bit of a day to remember Kev [and] a lot of the family will come up.

“The pub’s his legacy for us to carry on.”

READ ALSO Laura pub reopening set to honour ‘Stumpy’

With the licencing paperwork being finalised, Mr Wiggins said the excitement was building around Laura as reopening day got closer and closer.

“All the locals are chomping at the bit, and the town itself is ready for us to open,” he said.

“Once I get going, we’ll start off with a bit of a smaller menu; at least if you can open the doors, people can get takeaway [food] and have a beer, and I can introduce myself.

“I couldn’t have done it without Tania, Sully, Sarah, Steve, Fred and Lex, and Kev’s family and friends.

“We’ve already had a few people walk in seeing the doors open.

“It’s going to be good.”

Stuart Wiggins with the sign commemorating the Peninsula Hotel’s former owner – and his best mate – Kev “Stumpy” Darmody. Photo: Supplied.

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