Apsley farmers rally to open historic hotel

APSLEY farmers have pooled their money to open the town's historic hotel - one of the oldest in the Wimmera.

Investor Mike Ryan said 12 Apsley residents were involved.

"We have all put money in the bank and we are going to settle the property on Thursday," he said.

The Border Inn closed in 2011 and has been for sale for more than a year.

The original hotel was built in 1848. It burnt down in 1885 and was rebuilt the same year.

Mr Ryan said the town needed the hotel.

"We can't buy anything in Apsley whether it be a cold beer or a counter lunch," he said.

"There is nothing there. The pub has been shut for the best part of three years and it used to be a central spot in the town."

Mr Ryan said there was also a successful takeaway shop across the road, which closed about 18 months ago.

"Everyone was wishing and willing the pub to open so we are going to do just that," he said.

Mr Ryan said the group wanted to make it more of a community space than a hotel.

"We want mums to come along with their children and we want to open in the morning for coffee and cakes for anyone wanting to come in with their newspaper," he said.

"It will be a pub with a softer feel."

The hotel also consists of a number of rooms.

"We will open them up to groups to have meetings in so there could be a CWA meeting or hockey club meeting in there," Mr Ryan said.

"It will be very community-based and become a meeting point for the town."

Mr Ryan said there was a bit of work to do on the hotel.

"We need a new kitchen - the old one is in poor condition," he said.

"We also want to develop a beer garden out the back."

Investors will meet West Wimmera Shire Council to discuss the project.

"It will depend on how long that process is as to when we can open," Mr Ryan said.

"We would love to have it open by the Apsley Races on March 22."

Mr Ryan said the investors would also advertise for a management team to run the hotel.

"It would be ideal for a young couple," he said.

West Wimmera Mayor Ron Hawkins said council was thrilled by the idea and would support the project.

"It is a great initiative," he said.

"Our planning and building people are going to meet the investors this week and give advice on regulations."

Cr Hawkins said a community meeting in late 2013 outlined the need for the hotel.

"The community identified the closed hotel as one of the main issues," he said.

"Apsley is on the Wimmera Highway so they do get a lot of travelling trade.

"Council is very optimistic that they are going to have a successful operation."

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