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Community & Business

21 January, 2022

National treasures in Mt Molloy

ONE of Queensland’s oldest pubs, the National Hotel, Mount Molloy, 40km north of Mareeba on the Mulligan Highway, seems to be having a new lease of life these days.

By Sally Turley

Port Douglas local Jason Allison, enjoys a Mt Molloy lager and a yarn with publican Shane McElligott on a lazy Mt Molloy Saturday afternoon.

Publican Shane McElligott and his wife Tanya bought the National Hotel in 2019 on a trip back from Darwin to visit his mum and sister who live in Cairns. 

“Buying the pub was a way of bringing our family back together,” Mr McElligott said. 

“One of the first things we did was create our own beer – the Mt Molloy Lager. It took a lot of taste testing sessions with mates and a few hangovers to get it right, but now we have a couple of approved varieties. 

“What we didn’t realise at first was that we had bought a little more than the items listed on the sale contract. We seem to have inherited Leslie, the pub’s friendly ghost with the deal.” 

Leslie died accidentally from an overdose of pain killers she had taken for her monster tooth ache back in the 90s. She spends her time poking around the pub, turning lights on and off , opening locked doors and carrying out other ghost-like activities. 

“We had a ‘medium’ come and release her and she did go for a while, but after a couple of weeks, she came back. I guess she couldn’t fi nd a better home to occupy so now she is here to stay,” he said. 

The historic mining and timber town of Mt Molloy was born in the 1890s after Patrick Molloy stumbled onto a copper lode while searching for some of his stray bullocks. Its cemetery is also home to another national treasure and previous owner of the hotel – James Venture Mulligan. 

Born in Ireland in 1840, Mr Mulligan opened the Palmer River and Hodgkinson goldfields in the 1870’s and found the silver at Silver Valley west of Herberton amongst other feats. He married in Brisbane in March 1903 at the age of 63 and bought the Mt Molloy hotel the same year. 

Having finally settled into a marriage and business, he died from pneumonia after sustaining broken ribs in a fall from the hotel balcony during a pub brawl in August 1907. 

Surprisingly, Mt Molloy is also the centre of Australia’s richest region for birdlife.The Mareeba area is home to nearly half of the 750 species of Australian birds and birders have recorded 300 of those species within a 15km radius of Mt Molloy. 

The current publican and former road train driver, Shane McElligot is known for saying: “I’ve owned two pubs – my first and my last” and for first time visitors to the National, his welcoming banter and sense of humour certainly seems to be making a lasting impression.

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