15 November 2023

Old Bank opens doors with cafe and bed and breakfast

| Sarah Martin
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Darren and Tania Taylor have brought Cooktown’s historical Old Bank back to life. Photo: Sarah Martin.

For the first time in many years, one of the grandest buildings in Cooktown has opened its doors to the public as a cafe and bed and breakfast.

Former NSW couple Darren and Tania Taylor bought the old bank building at 122 Charlotte Street last year and are now open to the public from 8 am to 2 pm Monday to Friday.

“We live out the back, the upstairs is a B&B and we have a cafe and gift shop downstairs,” Ms Taylor said.

“We just wanted to open the doors so people can come in and have a look, we have the strongroom opened, some bits and pieces of gold stuff around.”

Ms Taylor said the couple had “collected junk” for years, and had enjoyed filling the huge building with antiques.

“How can you not love [the Old Bank]?” she asked.

“It is the quiet season, so tourists aren’t around, but the locals are utilising it. We have groups coming in for a cup of tea and chatting for an hour or so and when the rain starts it’ll be lovely to have somewhere dry and air-conditioned.”

The building, affectionately known by locals as the Old Bank, has been a familiar sight on Cooktown’s main street since 1891, when it was built as the Queensland National Bank.

The two-storey structure features an impressive arched entrance, high ceilings, pillared verandahs and magnificent red cedar counters.

It was Cooktown’s Westpac Bank until the early 2000s, and has since been leased for a variety of uses, including as a community hub, and residential and natural resource management office.

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