By Claire Ottaviano
WORKS to breathe new life into Bellevue’s Darling Range Hotel have begun after years of uncertainty for the historical building.
Residents fighting to save the ‘Anzac’s pub’ were relieved to see renovation works start last month, especially since they had launched a campaign to save it from demolition only three years ago.
The 1905-built East Midland Hotel, soon to be renamed Bellevue Darling Range Hotel, came under threat in September 2016 when a service station was proposed at the location.
Originally the City of Swan recommended the East Metro Development Assessment Panel (JDAP) reject the application for demolition but later supported it when the applicant lodged an appeal with the State Administrative Tribunal.
The DJAP still rejected it but later supported revised plans that would retain part of the hotel.
The original building was spared but the attached 1970s-built Ranges Inn was lost when the service station was constructed in April 2018.
At that time, property licensee Craig Mahoney was ready to begin renovations on the remaining structure but changes to the development application stalled works for a further 12 months.
Echo News took a tour of the tavern this week which, after completion, will include a brand new burger and pizza restaurant, two separate bars, outdoor alfresco area and pool table room.
Mr Maloney said he hoped by retaining the old character elements of the tavern, including original doors and led lighting windows, the original feel of the building would remain.
“In my mind, I want the bar to look like it’s not new,” he said.
“By using second-hand pieces and restoring what’s already here we can help make it look like it’s been here for years.
“I think I’ve made the right call by leaving many parts as they are, to keep it like a country pub.”
Blue carpet has been stripped revealing original jarrah floorboards, with extra floorboards from the empty second floor hotel rooms used to replace damaged sections.
Skirting and cladding have also been reused from other parts of the old hotel and rendering removed in parts to reveal original red brickwork.
One bar will be named Wilco’s bar, after original owner Thomas Wilkins and the second, Diggers bar, paying homage to its significant heritage as the local watering hole for soldiers training at Blackboy Hill in WWI and WWII
Mr Mahoney said although the road to get here was long, it could not have been done without the help of the community who rallied in support of the Save The Darling Range Hotel Facebook page.
“I stuck around because I could see the vision and what I could do with it,” he said.
“It’s an opportunity to bring something back to life, and it’s on a corner location on a busy road, so there’s that advertising advantage too.”
Bellevue Residents and Ratepayers Association secretary and Facebook page administrator Dianne Arvino said the community had fought hard to see the hotel brought back to life.
“To see the work finally begin, it’s a relief,” she said.
“You can see from the Facebook page the community opposition was absolutely overwhelming and that’s what urge me to continue to fight.”
The group’s work is not finished as they turn their attention to protecting the 100-year-old Moreton Bay fig tree on site and seeing the hotel heritage-listed.