April 9th 2014 and Buchan residents were shocked to hear that their beloved Pub had burnt down. All of Gippsland was shocked. In fact, the news made headlines in Melbourne. It was reported that it took 55 firefighters and nine fire trucks around 90 minutes to bring the blaze under control. The pub was destroyed. The loss was not simply that of an historic pub first built in 1881, and a centre of commercial activity during holiday periods, but it meant the loss of a community hub – so important in a small town. Buchan is only a small town. Situated adjacent to the Buchan River, just upstream from that river’s junction with the Snowy River. Buchan and its surrounds has a population of somewhere around 300 people, so the pub as a community hub was vital.
However, the community rallied and today Buchan has a brand-new pub. And the pub is a testament to the resilience of this tight knit community. A crowd funding site was set up and the target was over $600,000 – a big task for such a small community. But they pulled it off and on 1st December 2015 the slab for the new pub was poured. Some say it was Australia’s biggest ever crowdfunding exercise and the locals are claiming it’s the first pub in the world to be built through crowdfunding. Local builders and contractors donated their time and skills. All stone and timber for the construction was sourced locally. The new Buchan Caves Hotel opened on December 13th.
It’s bigger and better than the original and will serve the locals very well with added function rooms. And the 130,000 plus visitors to the nearby famous Buchan Caves will be able to enjoy the fabulous High Country hospitality the town is famous for.