Words by Sharon Timms
A decent pub is the lifeblood of any regional town, the pace at which the heartbeat ticks. More than just a place to drink, pubs are often the vital centre of a township’s social life as well as its revenue source. Pubs are amongst our oldest cultural icons, connecting our busy present lives to a place of nostalgia when sweaty farmers scraped the day’s work off their boots on the deck before enjoying a - most probably - room-temperature beer.
The Mossman Exchange Hotel is a beautiful ol’ gal, and if the walls could talk, they’d surely have a lot to say. Originally built in the late 1800s, she was almost destroyed twice by tropical cyclones, once in 1911 and as bad luck would have, again in 1934. Rebuilt a third time, by the mid-1950s The Exchange was widely regarded as the best hotel in the region, housing visiting government dignitaries during their stay in the tropical north. The sands of time weighed heavily over the next 70 years, and finally in 2013 – in derelict condition – the hotel was privately purchased and carefully restored once more, gaining a listing on the Queensland Heritage Register.
Along with a pretty new makeover came a new kitchen and a new menu, which far defies the pub grub of yesterday. The cracking menu is the work of newly appointed chef Tony Daburger, a self-confessed hospitality industry gypsy with a penchant for fishing. Looks like he’ll fit in just fine around these parts. Whilst the menu is extensive and full of standard pub favourites like fisherman’s baskets and Aussie roasts with all the trimmings, it’s the local whisperings of the weekly steak specials that have locals lining up at the door.
Rescuing mid-week home-cooks from dirty dishes and blaring smoke alarms, The Exchange offers a gentle reprieve every Thursday with its Steak Night. 500g Black Angus sirloin for an irresistible $17? It’s practically free. The succulent slab lords over double cooked chips, gravy and your choice of salad or veggies. Pair it with an icy pale ale or glass of something from their wine list, and you’ve got yourself a
date. As an aside from specials nights, Chef Tony is also introducing the pub’s first degustation series – a monthly 5 course set menu to highlight local produce and the chef’s muscle.
In addition to the dining room and the public bar, there’s a bottle shop attached to the main room stocked with wine from across the nation, a smashing garden bar out the back complete with a pool (for hotel guests) and with an all-singing, all-dancing Temprite beer system pulling favourite Aussie lagers at 2C, there’s not a room-temperature beer to be found.
The Exchange Hotel
2 Front Street, Mossman
Open for Lunch, Dinner & A Coldy - Seven days