The Meeniyan Hotel has been around in one guise or another since around 1892; the original being destroyed by fire in 1933 and subsequently rebuilt and added to over the years. The Meeniyan Hotel is located in a small township that sits on the South Gippsland Highway, on what is a gateway for tourists on their way to Wilsons Promontory and other tourist destinations such as Port Welshpool or Port Albert. The hotel’s latest owner Andrew, outstandingly friendly and informative, only acquired the hotel recently and has commenced major renovations and improvements to take advantage of its perfect location on this busy tourist route.
The layout and décor of the hotel spans what you’d say are two styles, a rustic country look, as well as memories of the 60s and Andrew’s plan is to renovate more of the hotel and attempt to bring it up to the level it was in its heyday. The plans include the rejuvenation of the historic main staircase, which reportedly was sourced in the 1930s from a building owned by Manchester Unity in Melbourne, and follow suit with the upper rooms. There wasn’t a lot of information that I could find on the Meeniyan Hotel, but Andrew has discovered some of its history and kindly gave me a copy of a page from a 2004 Heritage Study. Refurbishing old pubs is never an easy or cheap endeavour, so hopefully all will go well.
Food is also one of Andrew’s passions, so we were eager to try out his menu and, fortunately, this time we arrived with an appetite. I mentioned to Andrew that it’s great to see old pubs being rejuvenated and bringing good food to the table and we weren’t disappointed in this regard. My choice of beef pie with red wine gravy and vegetables was excellent and, while I’m not a big greens eater, there were none left on my plate at the end. The cider also went down well with the meal. The calamari dish my wife selected also received a big tick of approval and there was no doubt that both of us would be foregoing dinner tonight, as we were full. We’re also glad that we arrived early, as the place began to fill up rapidly not long after we arrived; that’s always a good sign.
The Yinnar Hotel is located at what was originally known as Middle Creek and Scrubby Forest, which became Yinnar in 1879. Yinnar is another town that was not immune to the major bushfires in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and much of the town’s history succumbed in those bushfires, including its first pub in 1885, though some original buildings still survive. Yinnar is still an area supporting a range of mixed farming, a transit point for logging trucks, and clearly a thriving arts community, judging by the arts centre across the road though, in my view, the community garden at the back was far more interesting.
The Yinnar pub is a typical pub dating from the early 70s and is actually a community co-operative owned hotel. What it’s best know for is that it’s the home of the Strzelecki Stringbusters, who provide monthly Bluegrass & Old Time shows at the hotel. I couldn’t find out for how long the Stringbusters have been performing, but it does appear that they have been around for quite a number of years. While one of the walls is decorated with photos of the Stringbusters, it would have been nice to see a lot more memorabilia and history around the other walls, as they were crying out for attention.
The meal that we had was actually quite good. I chose the Bami Goreng (prawns, beef and chicken with Hokkien noodles and a lovely sweet sauce), and my wife chose the Champagne Chicken and neither of us were disappointed. I must be on a bit of a cider hit at the moment, as the Strongbow Dry went down nicely. It’s surprising how at times you can find a great meal at the most unexpected of places, and yet at other times where you expect to get a great meal, you end up being disappointed.
The only thing that I found a bit odd was that the pub was cash only. It did provide a cash machine, but these money thieves just aren’t to my taste.