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    CHEERS TO 125 YEARS: Stawell Club president Russell Jones, left, and life member and licensee John Hart raise a glass ahead of the club’s milestone celebration. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

Milestone celebration set for Stawell Club

By SARAH MATTHEWS

Past and present members of Stawell Club will celebrate 125 years of the watering hole at the weekend with a Sunday roast and stories of times gone by. 

Club licensee and life member John Hart said the anniversary was a significant one, with the club ‘probably the only licensed premises for miles around that has had its licence for that long, non-stop’.

Mr Hart said Stawell Club was originally a gentlemen’s club, which first opened in a building further along Main Street. 



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“We can’t tell you when it moved here, but the building we are in now was the Star Hotel,” he said.

“The club took it over and it was originally a completely different layout to the one you see in here now.”

Mr Hart said the hotel was still a private club, managed by a board.

“You have to apply to become a member and the board makes a decision on the suitability of that,” he said. 

“People apply and if they’re no good they don’t get in. That rarely happens, simply because the people we don’t like to have here don’t even bother applying. 

“But it’s not as exclusive as it used to be.”

Mr Hart said friendship and fellowship were key elements of the club. 

“It’s a water hole where you’ve got decent people,” he said.

“We never have any problems.”

Mr Hart said the dress code had also relaxed in recent times.

“It used to be if you came in any time during the week – at any time – you were neat and tidy,” he said.

“Friday nights you had to wear a tie and most other nights blokes wore a tie. 

“These days blokes often come in from work. Sometimes they have muddy boots, but they get in trouble for that.

“Friday night is still the night that you should put in a bit of effort and show up neat and tidy.”

The club has also moved with the times in recent years by admitting female members.

Mr Hart said previously, women were not allowed to attend the club, except on certain occasions.

“They would have one or two nights a year where members could bring their ladies and they’d put on a pretty basic sort of a meal,” he said.

“Things changed and I vowed and declared that I wanted women in here. It didn’t go over too well, but it’s happened.

“We had a couple of changes on the committee and thank goodness – it’s good to have women in here. We have wives and girlfriends and young girls, they’re all welcome.”

Club president Russell Jones said visitors were also allowed to enter the club, they simply had to sign in.

He said the club’s 10 life members would be honoured on Sunday, with the birthday celebration getting underway at 12.30pm.

“Some of the members here have been members for a pretty long time,” he said. 

He said the club, like other licensed venues, had struggled throughout closures and restrictions to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

“All the pubs have been battling a bit,” he said. 

“We got up to more than 200 paid members and we’re back down to 150 or so now. But there are a few slowly coming back – some of them have learnt to stay at home, too.”

Mr Jones said he was looking forward to Sunday’s celebration.

“We’re going to invite all members, non-members and life members to enjoy a roast meal,” he said.

“A few people will speak and we’ll celebrate what we’ve got.”

Mr Jones said RSVPs were essential for catering purposes and people could call the club on 5358 2323 to register their interest.

The entire November 24, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

The entire November 24, 2021 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!