Letter: A lament for the old Golden Sands Hotel

Golden Sands Hotel 1964. Image courtesy Nambucca Headlands Museum
Golden Sands Hotel 1964. Image courtesy Nambucca Headlands Museum

MANY locals would admit to still be in mourning for the demise of this sacred watering hole. If ever there was a case for a community land rights' claim, then the Sands was it.

No doubt this place was precious to not only the local townsfolk but also the travellers, many of whom would pull into the pub to recharge their batteries after a tiring journey on the notorious Pacific Highway.

The view from the Saloon Bar was spectacular, looking right down to the mouth of the Nambucca River.

The publican, Trevor Hill, could have bought the land across the road for 250 pounds. This would have maintained the extraordinary views from the pub and prevented the erection of The Blue Dolphin Motel.

You could always find a chair in the Saloon Bar, with the view, where Ronnie McNeil, a stock and station agent, always wore a tie. But most patrons of the pub were more interested in the view at the bottom of a beer glass. And this happened in the Public Bar where it was standing room only for the locals to quench their thirst after a hard day at work.

Here you could have a Tooheys Black with Axel, organise some welding work with Bowlo, talk about the boxing with Sparra, have a laugh with Frank 'Fatty' Day, procure your pumpkins and beans at a snip from Tommy the Fox, put in a request for a bunch of Percy's precious bananas, listen in on a tall fishing story from Nifty, or pinch a few chips from Red Eyes' counter meal when his attention was averted.

And there were plenty of those, empty glasses. Conveniently placed around the pub carpark were baskets emblazoned with 'Your M T Glasses please'. At the centre of the carpark, just near the bottle shop, was a red cedar tree, a sentimental reminder of the valley's history.

There was a well worn path from the pub - past the cedar tree to the TAB across the road. On a Saturday morning the pub was a hotbed of tips from the far flung reaches of Australian racing. And moral support came from one of our best race callers, Ken Howard, who retired to Nambucca Heads and lived in a house basically behind the TAB with a view across to the river and the RSL.

Golden Sands Hotel 1995. Image courtesy Nambucca Headlands Museum

Golden Sands Hotel 1995. Image courtesy Nambucca Headlands Museum

Rugby League! The Golden Sands was the home of league. This had always been the case. Funny how the stories of local greats were magnified after a belly full of Tooths New. Perhaps the most infamous captain coach of the Roosters and there were many, was Mad Dog Ted Ellery.

Rugby league at the pub reached its crescendo when St George great, tough front rower Billy Wilson became the publican. Ex -ootballers and mates of Billy, visiting the pub, were on occasion greeted not with a handshake but a headbutt!

And no greater headbutt to the locals came when Woolworths landed in town replacing the sacred site of The Golden Sands Hotel with a big green box.

The locals no longer had a church for the people. A place where you could rub shoulders with priests, politicians, pastoralists, pissants, prostitutes, psychopaths, philanthropists, philanderers and painters not to mention feminists, fishermen, florists (selling roses), fascists, freaks, criminals and coppers.

We loved it! A special mention must go to Brad ... a true gentleman.

RIP The Old Golden Sands

Peter Fuller, Nambucca Heads

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