Station Hotel (Ingham, QLD)

Requiring to pass through Ingham on the way north, with the combination of not having a rigid schedule to maintain, and a desire to pause briefly for something to eat all led to the fortuitous last minute decision to visit the Station Hotel.

Having seen this pub from the outside numerous times, and with the statement “We must have a beer in that pub one day” on far too many occasions, I decided to seize the moment, and I am very grateful I did. So grateful in fact that after a long time between posts, I was inspired enough to throw a few lines together to share what I found.

The reason why a certain pub will appeal to a certain person varies as dramatically as the Melbourne weather, however for me personally there were several things that drew me to this place most robustly.

First and foremost, I have never made any secret of the fact that I love art deco period buildings, and my first observation of the mint coloured tiles and polished metal top-strip edge of the public bar, nicely complimented by what would be best described as classic and timeless run of the mill 1960’s looking bar stools, was enough to warrant my attention. Noting also, a lack of brewery propaganda – as usually found plastered from head to toe, or in some other prominent manner, I was not quite sure what I would find.

Inside, there was a certain timeless charm that could easily allow one to think that theyre worlds away from the soulless ambience of updated or modern pubs, with only one flat screen TV catering to the largely punter orientated patrons at the time of the visit. An interesting observation was that thoughtfully, a smaller TV was located at eye height for those sitting closer to the TV end to take away the requirement to sit with a kinked neck if wishing to watch whatever is the interest of the moment.

A true Aussie pub with various monuments and plaques decorating the walls – all with stories to tell, kept the eyes busy sufficiently long enough to not be too interested in the “sport of kings” that was unobtrusively carrying on, on screen.

Very pleasantly surprising was the sight of a pie warmer sitting proudly at the bar. This contained a selection of pies and sausage rolls, which I was further delighted to learn were home made, and not that mass produced, highly processed plastic-bag microwave rubbish. Better still, they were hot and ready to roll. The sausage roll I enjoyed – almost as big as a pie in volume and content, was incredibly tasty. I think that this was a turning point for me, at that corner where “nice pub” turned into “Oh my, I think I may have a new favourite”*. The combination of such pleasant and homely ambiance, deliciously cold beer on tap, beautiful original deco surrounds and now, awesome tasty pastry based delicacies, was almost a touch overwhelming.

The pub dates back to 1925, and astonishingly has been under the same management for the last 49 years, as informed by friendly publican Keith. There is also around 18 rooms available for accommodation, and a renewed roof top atrium, which came adrift from the pub during one of the more recent cyclones, and has since been repaired and put back. During this process, it would seem that other opportunities were taken to enhance the features of the building, which included the restoration of the internal staircase that leads from the main hallway between the lounge and public bars, to the traditional upstairs rooms, revealing New Guinea rose-wood staircase and balustrade construction, previously hidden by layers of paint, now revealed for its own visual appeal.

A pleasant lounge bar also exists, however despite its lovely curved corner bar, upright piano and generally pleasant environment – again largely timeless but tilted somewhere between 1950 and 1988 due to its fixtures and furnishings, it sees minimal, but occasional use as a meeting place for various district clubs and associations.

Typically for north Queensland, a cool and relatively extensive series of verandas provide a cool haven away from the rays of the north’s sunshine, and during the visit on this occasion, a pleasant breeze wafted through these areas, while the nearby 2ft gauge cane railway continued it’s highly frequent business at this time of year, running many trains into the local sugar mill.

It has been a while since I have written a pub review, and although I am yet to write up a bad review that doesn’t sound loaded with my bias towards a pub I really enjoy, it has probably been the gentle nudge I have needed to get back into the swing of things.

Station Hotel Ingham – those who would like it;

Admirers of art deco period buildings
Connoisseurs of good pies and sausage rolls
Lovers of cold beer
Fans of cane trains or horse racing
Those appreciative of the principal of the “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” approach to decor and not” keeping up with the Jones’” in this regard
Those of us who appreciate a timeless, character filled pub that fulfills the criteria of being a traditional watering hole that covers the basics well of what a pub should do, not become a multi-purpose café / restaurant / mini-casino with a bar thrown in for good measure, like many pubs have now evolved into.

Those who wouldn’t like it;

Those people who appreciate their pubs sterile, air conditioned, modern, and loaded with pokies and other time and money absorbing distractions, with an a-la-carte menu offering the ubiquitous “steak house fries” and generic every-day style modern pub stuff.

I will most definitely revel in the chance to get back there and stay a night to truly soak in the atmosphere, and a number of cold beers that would be necessitating the use of their upstairs accommodation.

For this reviewer, I would summarise by saying timeless, full of character and charm, and a traditional and now all too scarce, classic north QLD pub. 10/10!!

  1. #1 by Shane Backx on 2 February, 2016 - 6:49 am

    A perfect pub, with THE best homemade pies ever!! You could imagine Errol Flynn, Chips Rafferty and even Lee Marvin sitting in the bar here!

  2. #2 by Tim Cox on 10 August, 2016 - 6:28 pm

    My father and I have been a guest at the Station Hotel on many occasion, Keith and Dulcie have always made the stop a pleasurable and friendly one. Highly recommended and looking forward to my next visit!

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