Graham Duck, Tabitha Castle and Steve Franks love to serve the locals at the Palmwoods Hotel.
Graham Duck, Tabitha Castle and Steve Franks love to serve the locals at the Palmwoods Hotel. Warren Lynam

Best pubs in Queensland: Sense of history keeps hotel alive

WHEN the Palmwoods Hotel was built in 1912 on Main St, it was the foundation for the railway town.

More than a century later, a sense of history and community loyalty has kept the Palmwoods Hotel alive and flourishing, even as the town centre moved and night life precincts opened elsewhere.

Graham Duck has been venue manager at the pub for almost three years, but confessed to a lifelong affiliation with the Aussie icon since his youth.

"When I was a kid my granddad used to take me to pubs,” Mr Duck said.

"Maybe it's steeped in Australian history. It's just always been a meeting point - in country towns, the pub was the centre, it was the hub.

"I hope we wouldn't lose that iconic history, and keep these venues rolling for another hundred years.”

The railway line was the catalyst for the town's establishment - and the first thing both locals and railway visitors needed was the hotel.

"When the old steam engines used to come up from Brisbane going further north, they needed somewhere to refuel,” Mr Duck said.

"The pub was one of the first things to go up.”

Since then, the town centre has shifted, and the pub is surprisingly difficult for newcomers to find.

Main St now has the appearance of a service road off Palmwoods' main thoroughfare, and is signed only as leading to the "industrial estate”.

But while gigs and events keep visitors coming into town, locals have always kept the pub alive.

"Palmwoods has quite a village-like mentality and does support its own,” Mr Duck said.

The Palmwoods Hotel on the Sunshine Coast.
The Palmwoods Hotel on the Sunshine Coast. Warren Lynam

Sunshine Coast couple Rick and Keri Gazzard have owned the pub for almost 12 years, and Mr Duck said their hands-on approach to the business, along with their other pub in Beerwah, keep the venue relevant and fresh without compromising its character.

"You do have to update and keep your offer current, keep listening to your customers,” Mr Duck said.

"But there's those staples in the industry that never change: great customer service, great food - you've just got to keep them coming back wanting more.”

It seems to be working, with the pub voted the Sunshine Coast's best in a Sunshine Coast Daily reader poll.

The Palmwoods Hotel was the most popular choice among nominators even before it clinched a convincing win in the final poll, securing 56% of the vote over seven other venues.

The Gazzard family hotels - Palmwoods and Beerwah - earned 77% of the vote in total.


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