All roads ‘led to Louth on Saturday last’ - proclaimed the ‘Western Herald’ at Bourke on May 15, 1959 – ‘for the opening of the new hotel “Shindy’s Inn”.’
It was indeed a gala day for the historic village perched on the banks of the Darling River 99 kilometres below Bourke.
By midday 200 cars had descended on Louth, and by nightfall, 300.
They came from the surrounding western outposts of Bourke, Wanaaring, Cobar and Wilcannia, but also from “inside” towns like Dubbo, Wellington, Bathurst and Lithgow.
Such was the general excitement in the bush about the fact that Louth was again to have a pub, following the fire that destroyed its sole surviving hostelry, the Royal Hotel, in 1956.
Local grazier Walter Mitchell, known to all as “Shindy”, had risen to the occasion and provided the funds to build a new hotel on the site of the old.
It would be called “Shindy’s Inn” in honour of its benefactor.
And on September 1, a momentous gathering of another sort will take place at Shindy’s Inn, when the hotel will go under the hammer at an on-site auction to be conducted by Landmark Russell of Cobar.
Now owned by Cath and Dave Marett, who bought the hotel in 2006 from Shindy Mitchell’s daughter Patsy and her husband John Duncan, the hotel is being sold to enable the Maretts to pursue another outback venture in Western Australia.
Since taking over the hotel (with Cath as licensee) in 2006, the Maretts have overseen the extensive renovation and extension of the premises, and diversification of the business.
A new dining area has been added, along with an amenities block for the adjacent 10-site camping area, a barbecue facility and two cabins for non-camping guests.
The inside of Shindy’s Inn is just as impressive as the outside, with artefacts on the walls, as well as photos and memorabilia.
Set on three-quarters of a hectare (1.8ac) of landscaped grounds on the east bank of the Darling, the Shindy’s Inn complex incorporates a four-bedroom owner/manager’s residence overlooking the river.
In earlier times, when Louth was a significant river port, the former Royal was just one of three hotels servicing the town.
It survived a fire in 1885 which destroyed the Louth Hotel, but was less fortunate in 1889 when it was one of a whole block of timber buildings burned to the ground.
In 1890 the rebuilt hotel and the post office were reported to be the only buildings in Louth above the water level of one of the Darling’s periodic floods.
But it’s seen dry times too, as recently as 2010 when the river at Louth dried up completely.
Given Louth’s present-day permanent population of just 34, the hotel relies for its custom on graziers and pastoral workers from the surrounding district, and tourists doing the “Darling run”.
Friday night is when the locals traditionally foregather in force, but the hotel is also the de facto town “hub”, used for meetings, celebrations, wakes and pre-election speechmaking.
The hotel is also the de facto town “hub”, used for meetings, celebrations, wakes and pre-election speechmaking.
And of course in August every year it helps slake the thirsts and fill the bellies of the thousands who descend on the outback town from far and wide for the popular Louth Races.