Living the Australian dream

FAMILY: (Back) Charlotte, Darien, Robyn, (front) Paul and Isabelle have big plans for the historic Criterion Hotel in Quorn.
FAMILY: (Back) Charlotte, Darien, Robyn, (front) Paul and Isabelle have big plans for the historic Criterion Hotel in Quorn.

The Batchelors are living what many would call the Australian dream, leaving their nine-to-five employment to become full-time owners of a country pub.

But the new owners of the historic Criterion Hotel in Quorn are no strangers to country life.

Robyn Hay and Paul Batchelor left the hustle and bustle of the city five years ago and have been living in Wongyarra in the state’s mid-north.

The blended family are a real life Brady Bunch. Meeting 14 years ago Robyn and Paul both brought with them two children each, before eventually having a daughter of their own.

While the couple may have become accustomed to country life, owning a pub is a whole new ball game – Robyn worked in hospitality before she was a lab technician, but Paul has never set foot behind a bar.

Lack of experience didn’t scare them and when the opportunity to buy the Criterion Hotel came up, Paul took it with both hands.

“You only get one chance at life, so do what you want to do. That’s my motto,” Paul said.

“We have always liked the idea of owning a pub. We have done a fair bit of travelling outback and country pubs always appealed.

“It’s a little bit more laid back I guess, people tend to be friendlier because they are out travelling instead of out under the pump everyday.”

The Batchelors had their first week as hoteliers starting last Monday and it was a baptism of fire come the weekend.

“We have been putting out fires all week,” Paul laughed.

“We hit the ground running with Quorn Cup and we ended up with a heap of shearers staying on the first night for the whole week.”

Nineteen-year-old Daughter Charlotte is a friendly face behind the bar and with plenty of hospitality experience, she plans to be a hands on employee.

“I have only been in town for the last couple of days, but it’s really nice and it has just got a gorgeous feel to it,” she said.

Son Darien, 18, is taking on a maintenance role and happy-go-lucky daughter Isabelle, 10, enhances the family feel.

The Batchelors have big plans to rejuvenate the run-down hotel, starting with bringing its character back by reinstating the original 1880 facade. 

In the meantime, a short term focus for Paul is reopening the pub to seven days a week and supporting the community that has been so welcoming to his family.

“We would like to return it back to how it should be,” he said. “We want to source locally as much as possible to keep the money in the community as much as we can.

“If more people in businesses did that then more communities would thrive even more so.”