Over 80 years ago, there was fierce debate and considerable public interest as to whether Moonah, a growing suburb of Hobart, needed a second pub.
- An art deco pub built in 1934 and remained empty has found a new owner and will reopen next month
- Owner Benn Hooper hopes Moonah’s new demographics will support the pub
- Hobart’s northern suburbs have changed rapidly as house prices skyrocket and the area experiences a renewal of business
In 1934, supporters of an additional water point argued that the Glenorchy area, and in particular Moonah, was growing rapidly.
This continued and The Mercury reported in June of the same year that “magnificent progress” had been made, with the laying of the foundation stone.
The hotel has gone through many phases and owners since then, and was arguably more commonly known as “The Mustard Pot” – or “The Pot” for short.
Fast forward to 2021, and an entrepreneurial local beer brewer saw the same vision for the now empty art deco hotel.
Fox Friday brewer Benn Hooper has been busy renovating the pub – which will include a restaurant, cellar and beer garden – which will be known by its original name, the Moonah Hotel.
“When we saw the opportunity of the Moonah Hotel’s availability, we really thought it was a good opportunity for the young families and the Moonah community to have a space to come and enjoy,” said Mr. Hooper.
“The people of Moonah are asking for something like this and we would like to think that we can bring it to them.
Scheduled to open in October, Mr Hooper and his team have revived some of the original 1930s pub features, such as the terrazzo floor that had been carpeted by previous tenants.
“We bring back some of the old and also give it some of the new,” he said.
For Mr. Hooper, renovating and opening a pub a few meters from his home in Moonah was a given.
“We’ve been living in the area since we moved here and I haven’t really traveled anywhere other than Moonah,” he said.
Mr Hooper and his young family moved from the highway to Tasmania in early 2019 and settled in the northern suburbs of Hobart.
“We have noticed that a lot of young families and young professionals come here,” he said.
“The change on Main Road has been huge, even during our time here.
The curtain moves
Mandy Welling of the Tasmanian Real Estate Institute said there was no longer a price difference between the Hobart suburbs of Lenah Valley and Moonah, which were traditionally divided by what is known as “the flannel curtain” .
“We have noticed this evolution towards Moonah for at least four or five years,” she said.
“I think it comes down to the inaccessibility of some of the areas around it from Moonah.
“There are also some really good schools in the northern suburbs and it has always been appealing to families, but I think it is becoming even more so.”
Ms Welling has said in the past that there was a “very obvious” price difference in property value between the houses in Moonah, West Moonah and Lenah Valley.
“These prices have now practically merged,” she said.
“It is also starting to encroach on parts of the new city.
“A lot of it comes down to the fact that people recognize many beautiful heritage properties and California bungalows and properties in style.”
She said the majority of sales have been from Tasmanians who are homeowners and second home buyers.
“As hard as it sounds to believe, a lot of people tell us these properties are affordable, especially when comparing areas like New Town and North Hobart,” she said.
“A paradise for food lovers”
Ms Welling said Moonah has turned into a “foodie’s paradise” and highlighted the success of St Albi Restaurant, which opened in 2015 in the industrial heart of Moonah and draws diners from southern Tasmania.
Since then, many other restaurants have followed suit.
“Ten years ago it was unheard of,” said Welling.
“It’s moving at a very fast pace.”
She said it was difficult to predict the years to come.
“I just see that people will focus on these areas and if we can really harness public transport, we will see people flocking to these areas.”
Soaring prices are not all good news
Glenorchy Mayor Bec Thomas said soaring house prices were not good news for everyone.
“It has an impact on the cost of living and we see it having an impact on people in our community,” Ms. Thomas told ABC Radio Hobart.
“We have a very diverse range of households in our municipality, both rental properties and owned properties.
“I think everyone is worried about it [affordability] and we have to help people access jobs. “
A revamp of the Glenorchy CBD cityscape has just been completed after three years of work, and a new Jobs Hub has opened on Main Street.
“We are working hard to upgrade the skills of local community members to meet the needs of employers,” Ms. Thomas said.
“We want to give people the skills and the training to make sure they can earn an income that can meet the demands of the cost of living pressures.”
Ms Thomas said she was not sure whether Glenorchy was bourgeois or not, but said she “would still have the same kind of mind”.
“I think it will continue no matter what happens here.”
She said she would like Glenorchy CBD to attract more new business.
“From Moonah to Glenorchy, we are seeing a slight change in the type of activity going on,” she said.
“We are seeing a lot of new restaurants, especially in Moonah, and I would love to see that happen in Glenorchy.”