Once a drinking hole for drovers and pioneering farmers in the 1860s, the historic Overland Corner Hotel is about to get a new lease of life.

Key points:

  • Founded by John Chambers and built in 1859, The Overland Corner Hotel was licensed in 1860
  • Three couples have taken over the management of the historic hotel
  • The trio expects to reopen the pub to the public in about four weeks time

Overland Corner is a tiny locality in South Australia’s Riverland region, with a population of about just 50 people.

While the community is small, its local hotel has survived more than 160 years as a pub.

For a period in the late 1890s and early 1900s, it also served as a post office.

It’s this history that new caretakers Tom and Sarah Freeman, Nikki and Fred Monaco and Brad and Nicole Flowers hope to preserve, and celebrate, once they reopen the pub’s doors in about a month.

The Overland Corner Hotel also served as a post office during 1889.(Supplied: State Library of South Australia)

The trio jointly took on the National Trust-owned hotel in late 2020 and closed it to the public to complete some minor restoration works. They are also making changes to the surrounding beer garden.

“We’re really relying on a lot of the local community and for them to tell us more about the history of the pub that we don’t know about.

“The locals in the Overland Corner area already have been fantastic, and they’re popping down each day and telling us about certain photos and history.”

The new managers are also giving the hotel’s beer garden a makeover.(ABC Riverland: Laura Collins)

Fresh start for Flowers family

For Mr Flowers, his wife, Nicole, and their two children, Indi and Jax, the hotel has cemented the Riverland as their new home.

The family of four had been travelling around Australia for around two years in a caravan, running their beer distribution company while on the road.

Before their nomadic life, they lived in bustling Sydney but frequently visited the Riverland region.

The National Trust has owned the historic Overland Corner Hotel for many years.(ABC Riverland: Laura Collins)

Mr Flowers said about seven or eight years ago, his wife and children came to the Riverland with him for a business meeting.

“That one trip turned into two trips a year and then into three, four or five trips a year, and each time it was getting a bit harder to leave because, I suppose, the river gets in your blood,” he said.

“It really got into our blood, and the locals became like family, and we were looking for something to move away from Sydney.

The new caretakers say they hope to preserve and celebrate the rich history of the hotel.(Sourced: State Library of South Australia)

Trio, seasoned entrepreneurs

Despite the Overland Corner Hotel being a new venture for all three couples, none of them are new to business.

Tom and Sarah Freeman own a brewery outside a Riverland town, while Nikki and Fred Monaco own a successful cafe in the centre of another.

Mr Freeman said each couple was bringing something different to the table, and they would look at using their own experiences to make the slightly remote hotel a success.

Riverland local Tom Freeman, left, says they hope to make the Overland Corner Hotel a success again.(ABC Riverland: Laura Collins)

“When we started [the brewery], we were at the end of a dead-end road and in the middle of nowhere and people said ‘you’re mad,'” he said.

“But it did prove that it’s not that far to drive and people are more than willing to drive.

“Overland Corner is really close to Barmera … and the road is almost the gateway to the north and this past year, in particular, has shown [people’s] willingness for domestic travel.”