After 45 years in the industry, well-known publicans Ed and Judy Cully have decided it’s time to pour their last drinks.
The former Jerilderie couple — who have owned and run Deniliquin’s Sportsmans Arms Hotel Motel for the past 20 years — have retired from the pub scene.
Their time as publicans began when Mr and Mrs Cully purchased the Royal Mail Hotel in Jerilderie, which they operated for 20 years.
They moved to Deniliquin in 1982, where they operated a commercial printing business, then owned the Central Hotel for nine years, as well as the ‘Sporties’.
After almost a lifetime behind a bar, Mrs Cully said she could write a book on the entertainment provided by their customers throughout the years.
‘‘The people are definitely what I’ll miss most,’’ she said.
‘‘Ed and I see the most gorgeous people, and being able to talk and socialise with them has always been a highlight for us.
‘‘We’ve heard it all behind the bar — the Central Hotel especially, those were funny days.
‘‘Our customers, young and old, have given us so much joy.’’
Mr and Mrs Cully said they have enjoyed watching the transformation of the young people they once served at the Central Hotel, more than 15 years ago.
‘‘We see the old Central Hotel drinkers come to the Sporties with their own kids and all grown up, and it’s special to see,’’ Mrs Cully said.
‘‘I was a mother figure to a lot of them.’’
Mr Cully said their customers aren’t the only ones to have changed, as he says the industry is drastically different from when they first purchased the Royal Mail Hotel.
‘‘Drink driving laws affected how people drink, and no-smoking laws were a game changer because if people couldn’t smoke, they wouldn’t come in,’’ he said.
‘‘The lock-out laws were the worst though, because they caused fights and arguments — we have lost a lot of windows.
‘‘The 2007 Liquor Act meant you could lose your whole hotel if you did the wrong thing.
‘‘Hotels these days have to be more food orientated, too,’’ he said.
However, what remains consistent at our local hotels is their sense of community, Mr Cully said.
‘‘Hotels are still our meeting places. If you go back in history, a hotel was built first — then a church,’’ he said.
‘‘Coming to a hotel is a way to socialise, network for jobs, meet new people and have a laugh,’’ Mrs Cully added.
Mr and Mrs Cully said they are looking forward to a relaxing retirement, with catching up with friends and family on their agenda.
‘‘Hotels are full-on — you work 60 to 80 hours a week, so we’re looking forward to sitting and breathing for a minute,’’ Mrs Cully said.
‘‘But we’ll miss it, and we’ll pop back in every now and then.’’
Taking over from Mr and Mrs Cully at the Sportsmans Arms Hotel Motel is Jeff Shand.
‘‘We wish all the best for Jeff, and we know he’ll enjoy his time at the Sporties,’’ Mrs Cully said.