The Royal Hotel Meredith
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The Royal Hotel Meredith

There are few pubs around quite like The Royal Hotel Meredith. As Damian Kelly (or Damo as he’s affectionately known by regulars) chats to me in between pouring pots, it’s clear the connection the venue has with its customers. Discussions of family and hobbies go back and forth between Damo and those who walk in, and even the ones who may happen upon the hotel by chance are greeted with unquestionably friendly service. Watching this take place may seem like Damian and his partner Claire have owned the venue for decades, passed down through generations, but it’s only been around three years.

After working together at Target’s head office, with Damo a shoe designer before that, the couple decided they needed a change. Damo went on to work in landscaping, gardening and odd trade jobs and happened to drive past the closed down pub as he drove down the Ballarat Road on the way to a gardening job. A phone number was plastered on the for sale sign and realising the potential, Damo called it immediately. Three years later with a revamp of the venue they’ve become a favourite amongst locals and those passing through.

History for the couple at the venue may only stem back several years, but the original building was constructed in the 1800s during the gold rush. During that time the hotel was a three story wooden structure and surprisingly the second largest wooden structure in Victoria – second only to the Royal Exhibition Centre in Melbourne. The venue soon met an unfortunate fate and burned down, leaving only the stables at the back of the property. The Royal Hotel Meredith as it stands is around 100 years old, but there are relics from the past hung proudly on the walls of the dining room.

When Damo and Claire took over the venue, they uncovered the stables in their renovations and have since put it to use as the stage for their live entertainment. Old saddles and horse shoes are hung off the beams and hooks on the walls (with an interesting addition of Nathan Buckley’s Collingwood jersey) and the stage looks out to the open courtyard with outdoor dining options.

Since renovating, the space has seen the Chantoozies, Brian Mannix, Dayle Ryder and more take to the stage and will soon see the Black Sorrows (on January 24) and Mental as Anything (on February 21) play at the venue.

With iconic pub meals of parmis, steak and chips, and the ability to play a game of pool or sit at the bar bench and chat with Damo or Claire, it’s a nod to what pubs and bars used to be all about. And with Damo mentioning his 10-year-old daughter wanting to work at the venue, it’s set to be around for a long time yet.

Written by Amanda Sherring

Where: 20 Wallace St, Meredith
When: Mon-Tue 3-10pm; Wed-Thu 11.30am-11pm; Fri-Sat 11.30am-late & Sun 11.30am-11pm
Phone: 5286 1100

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