20 Harley St, Blyth Phone: 08 8844 5004
First the good news: The Blyth Hotel just 15 odd kms west of Clare in South Australia is back in business, with new owners, a new fire escape, a great food menu and warm and friendly natives.
I first came across this country jewel a couple of years back when, mired by a lack of capital and stringent safety conditions, the pub was doing it tough. A faulty set of emergency fire stairs meant that it was no longer able to let out its spacious and comfortable rooms and this lack of cash flow was showing in a fading façade.
But the end of 2012 saw a change of ownership, with ex-AHA officer, Jarrod and his wife Naomi taking the reins with new drive and a bunch of new ideas.
Down the road a bit at Snowtown, 2013 also saw the gearing up of the construction of a massive wind farm and the 120 workers, all on 11 on, 3 off rosters, were in need of accommodation. This guaranteed room occupancy is feeding a cash flow which has allowed Jarrod and Naomi to begin their reinvigoration of the Blyth Pub.
There’s a lot to like about the Blyth Pub but maybe best to start with the rooms and upstairs amenities. Simply put, the bedrooms are amongst the best I’ve stayed at.
I only sampled one bed but I reckon it’s safe to bet that all were as comfortable as mine in room 6! Each room has, wait for it, reverse cycle airconditioning, accessible powerpoints, a table to work on, hooks and hangers for your gear, space around the bed to make enough mess to feel at home and direct access to the old style veranda.
The common room is spacious and well equipped with coffee and tea making supplies, a toaster, breakfast cereal selection and a large fridge with a freezer big enough to freeze at least 3 camelbaks.
The bathroom is, well I can’t remember a pub with cleaner and more modern washroom facilities, including great hot water pressure.
There is a flat room rate of 80 bucks for the single and double rooms and $120.00 for the two rooms with a Queen and a Single. Pretty good value especially for couples!
There is a lockup garage for your bike but I didn’t use it as a fella in the bar offered me his garage across the road for the bike for the night so I took him up. Mark was typical of the locals: loud rough and very friendly. There was not a hint of any territorial locals resenting my presence, just robust jocularity and conversation.
The main bar is full of honest unpretentious working people and there is a quieter bar at the back if you want to get away. Good honest food is served in an atmospheric old dining room by Naomi and a professional and friendly group of staff.
The Blyth Hotel is itself reason enough to head up to the Clare Valley but as I said at the top, that was just the Good News.
The even better news is that there is another attraction to Blyth, an attraction unique in Australia.
In 2000 local nature artist Ian Roberts and his wife bought the vacant Masonic Lodge building and after some false starts and then an epiphany when watching Russell Crowe in Officer and Commander , they created a community based cinema.
The story of the cinema’s creation is too long for this article so let’s just say that in 2013 this 112 seat cinema shows new DVD releases on Fridays and Saturday evenings leaving Sundays and Saturday afternoons free.
At these times the cinema is effectively open to offers and so: If you are riding out of Adelaide with a larger group of riders and can guarantee a minimum number of bums on the very comfortable seats, the cinema will screen up to two shows you want to see.
Imagine riding the Adelaide Hills then north through the Barossa to Clare and Blyth, a couple of coldies at a great pub and then kick back to watch, I dunno, a double bill of say Brando in The Wild One followed by Easy Rider! Or The World’s Fastest Indian teamed with Steve McQueen in the Great Escape with a couple of dozen of your mates!
This is no converted hall, but a fully equipped modern cinema with awesome sound, great seats and a full service candy bar (sorry no choc top ice-creams)!
Ian’s gallery is in the old church across the road from the cinema and when he’s not at the cinema, chances are you’ll find this amazing and generous man involved in his passionate project of painting all 928 varieties of eucalyptus. Well worth a visit!
Both the reborn Blyth Hotel and the Blyth Community Cinema can stand alone as magnetic attractions but when combined into one small town, a town which like so many is battling to survive, they form a wonderful destination for riders.
I rated the Pub at 80 on our 112 scale making it well into the Gold Rating. The friendliness of staff and locals combined with the impeccable upstairs amenities make it a strong member of the very best country pubs. Using my value scale of diving points rating by single room rate we end up with exactly 1.00 which means The Blyth Hotel is great value.