On a cold winters night this June (2018) we were heading south in our Motorhome. It was late and we were looking for somewhere to stay. We pulled out our trusty Free Range Camping App and found the Deepwater Inn. At that stage, we only had the bare information about the place. The Inn is located at Deepwater in NSW, about half-way between Tenterfield and Glen Innes on the New England Highway.
A pub that offers Free Camping.
At this late stage of the day, that was all we needed. We called in not really knowing what to expect, but we were pleasantly surprised. Not only was it a great free camp area out the back, the old Inn was amazing and full of history. To look at it we would not have known that in 2011 it was gutted by fire and has since been rebuilt to its former glory. We got talking to the owners Lynn and Andrew who told us their amazing story which they have shared with us here, so rather than me tell you, here it is from Lynn.
The Inn has a great Free Camp out the back
On the night of September 11th 2011 the Historic Deepwater Inn was burnt to the ground.
The Pub was built originally built in 1865 from local “pink granite” as an Inn and Cobb & Co change over station.
Apparently on the fateful night, there was an electrical fault and a spark ignited the original timber shingles that were under the wrought iron roof sheets. They burnt very hot and the only thing remaining were the badly damaged granite walls. There were no floors, no power, no windows, no doors, no water, no bar, just the ruins of the historic inn and shattered dreams of the then publican and his wife. They decided to sell the old inn as the task of rebuilding was enormous.
The Inn – After the fire and how Lynn & Andrew bought it
In June 2013, Andrew and Lynn bought the old inn with the dream of putting the roof back on, reopening the old inn and rebuilding the dream.
When visitors walk into the Deepwater Inn in northern NSW now, the most common response is “Wow!” those magnificent pink Granite walls!!! Apparently, no one knew that the granite walls were even there. They were rendered with sand and lime originally, so their beauty was hidden. Lime is combustible and when the fire went through the lime was consumed and only the sand remained. The render just fell off in sheets exposing the hidden gems.
Restored after the fire the granite walls are now on show
“If we had a dollar for every person that asked why we bought the old burnt out inn” we’d be rich Lynn said.
They ask why we moved from Sydney to Deepwater (659 klms from home). I just tell them “because we had no money…” We had no idea how we were going to buy the hotel or pay for the renovation. We just took a leap of faith and it’s paid off. The pub was cheap but no one would buy it because of the “order to rebuild” from Glen Innes/Severn council and there was a huge penalty for not having completed the rebuild. The Penalty was $1,500 per day and started 90 days after the fire.
We asked the council “What was the idea of such a huge penalty?” And they said “It was to put pressure on the owner to rebuild the Historic Inn”. They also added that “the penalty would be wiped when the pub was rebuilt”. We intended to rebuild so the penalty was not a problem and on the 15th September 2015 (four years and four days after the fire) when the mayor of Glen Innes / Severn Council cut the ribbon on the newly rebuilt Deepwater Inn the penalty of $2,055,000 was just wiped off like that.
During the rebuild, they had approx. 60 backpackers help them do the mundane jobs of building and “Regional construction” was one of the categories that backpackers needed to work and get their 88 days and qualify them to get their 2nd year working visa in Australia.
Some of the many backpackers that helped to rebuild the Inn
Lynn said ”We had plenty of accommodation with 12 rooms (Now 11) and the backpackers helped us enormously. We fed them and gave them a room (they eat like horses). They built fences, moved wheelbarrows of rubble, filled skip bins, shoveled rubble, painted and generally worked under the instructions of the builder. We got them a white card, work boots etc..
“We’ve met some wonderful young backpackers from all over the world!! All were very passionate about helping rebuild the pub.”
Andrew said “We helped them and they helped us. We couldn’t have done it without them!!!”
There was a “cease to trade” on the hotel license and it took 2 months to get the license reinstated. During this time they traded from the old stables out the back of the pub… it was really hard as the shed was hot in summer and freezing in winter!!!
“The Deepwater Inn has a free caravan park out the back of the pub and the wonderful grey nomads and other travelers have been very supportive of our little business venture. Primarily their support together with a small local population has enabled us to rebuild.”
The Rules are Simple
As for us with buying a pub with no money… “We started with $600 of alcohol and sold it.. with the profit we bought cement and more alcohol. Did it again and again. We also had some help from friends and family.
We didn’t know how to cook really but the licensing laws say we have to provide food. So we provided a menu of Toasties”. “It’s pretty hard to muck a toastie” Lynn laughingly adds.
Oh how the pub has grown!!!! It now has 11 rooms, (3 with ensuites) the free caravan park is still happening and the grey nomads keep visiting us.
We still cook toasties, but the menu is now much more sophisticated with a Tex/Mex steakhouse theme.
Tasty Homemade Burgers & Massive Pizza’s
We now have a showcase pub with the Longhorn bar featuring a huge pair for Longhorn bull horns. It’s been a great adventure say Lynn and Andrew..
“when we are sitting on the front veranda as oldies… I reckon we’ll say “that was fun!!!” We wouldn’t have missed the ride from ruins and ashes to WoW!!!”
The Deepwater Inn has now been rebranded as “The Longhorn Bar and Grill” and has a distinct Texan cowboy feel to it. There is a great area outside in the beer garden which is surrounded by a paddock with miniature ponies. Inside has been beautifully restored and they often have live Music happening. Lynn is also a great artist with many of her works featured on the walls, and they seriously prepare the best meals we have had in a long time.
The Beer Garden, Longhorn Bar & Dining Room