Salacious Railway Hotel

The Final Days of The Railway Hotel

Infamous and much loved locals pub The Railway Hotel closes it’s doors this weekend, but you can rest assured – they will be rocking ’til the last breath.

Now, I’ve only been in Cairns for 10 years because as I am reminded by some of the boarders around here, I am in fact a filthy cockroach from NSW.  But for those 10 barren long years I have worked across the road from The Railway Hotel. It is the extent of my vista for 40 hours a week, or like 60 hours a week if Gordo goes on holidays. So in a historical context my contact with the pub has been quite a short amount of time but my focus has been on it like a laser beam for the last decade. So I interviewed myself, and this is what I had to say to myself. Take it away, me.

Do you remember the first time you went to The Railway Hotel?

“Yes I do, Dozer. The day that I arrived in Cairns, the first building I walked into was The Railway Hotel and it was like a scene from a movie. Everyone in the bar turned around and stared me down as I perspired in the doorway, the jukebox stopped playing and tumbleweeds ambled slowly by. After realising I was actually meeting people across the road at The Grand Hotel, I felt fairly relieved at that point… it was still a very rough pub then. That was what it was like for the first couple of years after I arrived.
10473567_10204373902572827_4672226765218003410_oYou either drank over there or over here. You didn’t make that trip over the road unless you were prepared for howls of disapproval and treason.

After starting work in the bottleshop, I remember being invited over for a beer by a customer… so after work I slipped over the road and the moment I stepped in the door I heard “It’s that f…..g c…t from the bottleshop!”… that was one of the quickest beers that I ever put away in my life i’d say… but really it was all in fun, it’s a larrikins pub.”

After a welcome like that, what made you return?
“The thing that brought us all together was music. Well that’s how it started for me anyway. Back in my heavy drinking days I’d sit at The Grand getting plastered and writing filthy limericks on the bartenders tip jars. My soundtrack was Paulie Stevenson’s moody throat shedding blues… I saw him play more times than I’ve brushed my teeth. Paul also regularly played gigs over at The Railway, usually on a Saturday afternoon while I was propped up at the counter wondering if those last shots from the bottle at 6am on the balcony were really necessary.

Paul’s son Cory, now plying his trade in Clam Sandwich learned his chops at The Railway as well and ended up becoming a duty manager at The Grand for a time. The cover band SMASHED played their role too, with members working at The Railway and playing blistering shows both sides of the road.. that’s when the migration Railway Hotelbecame a bit more commonplace… at their peak they were the best rock covers act I’ve ever seen, anywhere.
Krispy, who was the Chef at The Grand when I arrived – then eventually started working at The Railway and he started booking originals and sweet local heavy shit. A few staff swaps here and there, some great gigs and suddenly it was ok to walk across the street and have a beer without fear of reprisal…. in fact it wouldn’t be uncommon to see Cory Stevenson or Brad Walker wandering across the road mid song to show off their wireless capabilities and pick up a packet of cigarettes.

I used to love hearing the band start up over there and hear them scream out “this one’s for Dozer across the road!” and the crowd would lean out the doors waving their drinks at me. Krispy once organised a raffle at a gig for a partner of mine, we were doing it pretty tough around then… she was very sick. Without any prompting he raffled some prizes at a gig at The Railway and presented us with the cash… that’s the essence of the real Railway Hotel to me, they look after their mates, i’ve seen it a thousand times”

How do you feel about it closing it’s doors for the last time?

“It’s true that The Railway has had a reputation it has tried hard to shake in recent years. The owners and management have cleaned up the place immeasurably since that first day I arrived and its going to be sad to see the doors close for the last time. It’s a rough corner, McLeod and Shields and the people that frequent  this corner of town are a tight knit community, even if it might not look like it at times… when you’re writing or listening to your rock odes of debauchery, well this corner is where those people really exist man… it’s a real place.

Cairns is losing a piece of it’s history and many on this block are losing a piece of their own… it’s quite sad honestly. Things will never quite be the same around here. Oh, I’ve got a customer.. we’ll have to leave it there.”

Thanks for your time!

“No worries, champ.”

It’s not every day that a pub closes down and The Railway Hotel is going out in style this weekend, so pull your finger out and go and say goodbye to the old battler with a celebration of local music!

Saturday it’s on for young and old, with music from open at 10am until close at Midnight featuring favourite acts that have appeared at The Railway over the years. The lineup includes; Jobstopper, Salacious, Meat Bikini, Sworf, Odius, Anoxic Embrace, Tropic Roots, Clam Sandwich and Double Bubble with more potentially being added. It’s going to be on for young and old! Please get along and rock the place to its foundations one last time!

See you in the drive through and at the bar on Saturday night!

Dozer xxx

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