The Bridge Hotel, Castlemaine’s New Life

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The Bridge Hotel, Castlemaine’s New Life

After closing its doors for a few months, Mace Williams and Catherine Fletcher relocated from Melbourne to give the much-loved Castlemaine pub a new lease of life. Well known for its live music on offer, the duo have continued to book gigs throughout the week, but with a new slick of paint, a new bar and a few additional elements, the Bridge has been taken to a new level.

Hi Mace, thanks for taking the time to chat with Forte, how are you and what are you up to at the moment?

Just got the chooks off to bed and winding down after a busy service, havin’ a glass of wine.

You’ve recently taken over the Bridge Hotel in Castlemaine and we understand you’ve got quite a bit of venue experience behind you. What else have you done and how do you think it’s contributed to your skills?

Catherine & I had The Grace Darling Hotel (Collingwood) for four years, a bar in the city in a basement called ‘Strange Wolf’ and Jealous Lovers – a wonky lil’ cocktail/dive bar in Bali. Before that I ran Hells Kitchen and Cath had a fashion label, Maus Cat Berlin.

How have you found it looking after a regional venue as opposed to your past experience in Melbourne?

We’re really enjoying our new life here. The folks are friendly, eccentric and lots of fun. We’re currently living in dinky digs above the pub with Rocket pub-super cat and a bossy bunch of lady chickens. Perhaps the biggest difference is the connection or engagement with customers and people, it’s very direct and personal. Many of the people who helped us get the place together, suppliers and so on have become good mates!

We’re sure readers have noticed the increase in bands performing at the venue, how important is it for you to have bands filling the space?

We really love music and the constant trample of bands through the venue. There’s amazing local talent, (Felicity Cripps Band + Dirty Serpent) plus bands from Bendigo, Melbourne (Dan Kelly, Alex Gow- Oh Mercy) and international (Kid Congo from The Cramps, Gun Club etc) plus an open mic night every  Wednesday.

The space also had a full reno, were you heavily involved in that process? How did you come up with the current design?

Sure did! We ripped the roof out, put in a new bar and joinery, new P.A – basically the place was so tired and rundown, everything required repair or replacement. Now it’s been described as “Dukes of Hazard meets Melbourne”. Cath and I like to work with the existing space and uncover the beauty in the grot. Like the deco’ cornice hidden beneath an 80’s office ceiling meets a disco ball

Did you take any inspiration from other music venues?

Not really, we’ve always done our own thing – we’re a couple of magpies really. That said we’ve travelled and try ‘n’ get out to see other venues when we get time to do a bit of research and development.

There’s also a new menu, are you able to let us know who the chef is and the thoughts behind the dishes available?

Luke Hards is our head chef. We wanted to keep the classic pub dish, invest it with some good produce and veer in a slightly different direction. There’s plenty of vegetables and grains to balance out the ‘American Ribs ‘n’ Popcorn chicken’ vibes.


Much respect for serving mulled wine at the Bridge, what other ways can punters stay warm at the venue?

12 single malt whiskys, 16 gins, 8 rums, hot toddy’s, winter cocktails, kick ass winter menu, open fire and cheery staff.

Lastly, what kind of experience are you hoping for everyone to take away from the Bridge Hotel?

We’d like to think people would leave thinking ‘l didn’t expect that’ – in a good way!!! Rock ‘n’ roll with just a touch of fancy.

Where: 21 Walker Street, Castlemaine
When: Mon-Wed 12-11pm; Thu 12pm-midnight; Fri-Sat 12pm-1am; Sun 12-11pm
Ph: (03) 5470 6426