Fri. Jun 14th, 2024

Bendemeer’s 160-year-old hotel won a Building Conservation Award during the recent 2024 Tamworth Regional Heritage Awards, run by the regional council.

The hotel was nominated for the award after winning a grant from the Tamworth Regional Heritage Association to repaint the front of the building in heritage colours.

The grant covered 50% of the painting cost, with the hotel contributing the other 50%. The repaint cost for the building’s front was $24,000 all up.

Publican Leeanne Summers said, “The financial support is so much appreciated. It will cost $100,000 to repaint the whole building, and we are doing it bit by bit.”

A local Bendemeer crew was hired to do the work.

When Leeanne and Mark Summers bought the hotel three years ago, in the middle of the COVID pandemic, it was very run-down, requiring a lot of maintenance.

Leeanne and Mark arrived with a load of tables and chairs, and a trailer-full of drinks to get their new venture started.

It’s their first venture into the hotel trade, after a lifetime of work in the Northern Rivers of NSW.

The Bendemeer Hotel, established in 1864, is the only pub in Australia with a bowling club attached. A grant from the Heritage Association two years ago helped with a coat of paint for the bowling club building.

“I’m personally very passionate about the history of the Bendemeer Hotel, and we host meetings of
the Bendemeer History Association,” Leeanne said.

“We have heritage slide shows running on two TVs in the hotel, put together by our daughter, Anna.”

The slide shows highlight events from Bendemeer’s colourful history.

Leeanne said she had a life-long dream of owning a country pub.

“I love cooking and entertaining, and I’m passionate about wine. I think of the hotel as a big house with a lot of bedrooms upstairs. It’s our home and we love welcoming people into our home.”

With the heritage grants and awards, the grand old building is looking refreshed.

“It’s coming to life, and it looks loved,” Leeanne said.

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