23 February 2024

Ever wanted to own a pub? Here's your chance to invest in the heart of a vibrant Riverina community

| Chris Roe
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Current Illabo Longhorn Hotel lessees Krissy Aurisch and John "Jacko” Jackson.

Current Illabo Longhorn Hotel lessees Krissy Aurisch and John “Jacko” Jackson. Photo: The Illabo Hotel.

It’s a dream as Australian as Vegemite or going barefoot to the shops: owning your very own country pub.

Once beyond the reach of the average beer drinker, a unique opportunity has emerged in the heart of the Riverina to own a slice of The Illabo Hotel.

The Illabo Co-Operative Limited was formed in October 2023 and has put out the call for locals, visitors and supporters to buy a share and become a part of the Longhorn Hotel.

Co-Operative Chair Fiona Hamilton said it was an exciting chance for individuals to invest in a lively regional community.

“The Illabo Co-Operative is not just about ownership; it’s about being part of something fun, genuinely country, and wonderfully regional,” she enthused.

“Imagine telling your mates, ‘I own a country pub!’ or having a reason to escape the city and experience the warmth of rural NSW.”

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For $5000 a share, interested parties can become founding members of the co-operative and claim a stake in the hotel, store, accommodation and the post office.

The objective is to secure the future of the village services by taking ownership of essential facilities.

“It’s the sort of little village pub that would be hard to sell to somebody and because it’s got all our services in it as well, we don’t want to lose those,” Fiona explained.

“The heartbeat of most small rural communities is most typically found within the local watering hole. When the future and consistency of this is under threat it can undermine the very fabric of the community and we don’t want that to happen in Illabo.

“We are not a ‘Save our pub’ story as it has not closed down, but rather we want to be a proactive community, on the front foot, to make sure we have a bright future for all who come to visit and live here.”

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With a population of around 150 residents with a few hundred more on surrounding farms, Fiona describes the community as “close-knit” and anchored in the surrounding agriculture.

“We’ve seen the hotel and the restaurant become a real focus recently and I think it’s so important for the community to have a place to come together and share information over a beer,” she said.

“At this stage, we’re saying that this is an investment into the community rather than being about financial growth, but we hope to do a bit of work and there will be new opportunities with inland rail on the way and growing tourism along the Canola Way.”

As well as the village’s proximity to tourism ventures such as the Junee Chocolate Factory and the Coolamon Cheese Factory, the Illabo Show has become increasingly popular and a string of other events such as the Camp Draft, Vintage Motorsports Park meets, the Illabo Long Lunch, and the biannual Melodrama continue to bring visitors to the region.

If you want to learn more or claim a slice of the Illabo Hotel pie, visit www.illabo-coop.com.

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