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Postwar pub a step back in time
THE Hotel St James is a beautifully preserved 1940s pub, constructed by two local men when they returned from service in World War II. St James was a bustling little town in northern Victoria in those days; now, given continual automation in farming, it’s a quiet backwater of 90 souls, distinguished by the grain silos next to the railway line and the greens of the bowls club.
The centrepiece of the town, however, is the hotel, whose original design has been lovingly preserved. The patterned bricks and the solid exterior hint of postwar confidence, and within its dark timber doors is an attractive long horseshoe-shaped bar. The pub is famous for its roast beef, which has received awards. Lettering on the internal doors is in an old, stylish font which reminds one instantly of Poirot.
The rooms, mostly upstairs, are compact and share bathrooms but are attractively appointed. Each has its own colour-coded décor matched by the walls, bedspreads and towels.
Out back is a neatly kept beer garden, with benches and a decorative dolphin-shaped sculpture. It’d be very pleasant to sit out here on a hot day with beer in hand, and nothing to listen to but birdsong and the occasional clack of bowls next door.
To the north of the town is Yarrawonga, with its broad lake, watersports and dining options. East of St James is the leafy Warby-Ovens National Park, and beyond it the food and nature attractions of the High Country. Another attraction is the entertaining country pub tour (phone 0419 988 117), which starts from Yarrawonga and includes none other than the Hotel St James.
Tim Richards travelled courtesy of V/Line and Tourism Victoria.
Hotel St James
19 Devenish Rd, St James, Vic 3727
Phone: 03 5764 4211
Rates: Double rooms from $40 per night.
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