The ruins are still smoldering but the beer's ice cold
DOUG and Carolyn Greensill not only lost their livelihood early Saturday morning when the Kandanga Hotel burned to the ground, they lost their home, leaving them with nothing but the clothes on their backs.
The entire Gympie region is this week mourning the loss of one of its most beloved country pubs.
The 101-year-old Mary Valley icon and community meeting point was completely gutted in an early morning blaze on Saturday, Doug and Carolyn escaping with their lives thanks to the quick thinking and actions of their neighbours.
The resilient couple was staying strong in the face of the tragedy yesterday, and with the help of the community had already resurrected the feel of the historic pub in a makeshift bar beside the smouldering ruins of their hotel.
"We're hoping to have the beer on tap by Friday," Mr Greensill said yesterday.
Insurance assessors have looked over the site and have estimated the rebuild will take between nine and 12 months, but Doug is hoping it will happen long before that.
"I'd love it if it only took six months," he said.
Mr Greensill said the community had rallied around him and his family, and had turned the double bay garage at the back of the property into a bar in the space of a day.
"I can't put it into words," he said. "This place is like a meeting place. For country people the pub is like their office."
"It's still hard to talk about. Without the support of locals, I don't know how we could have survived this," Mrs Greensill added.
The next step is to have the site cleared and prepped to rebuild, which the couple fully intends to do, while retaining the style and character of the beloved building they have lost.
"We'll build another one and have it look as close as possible to the old one with bull-nosed verandas," Mr Greensill said.
He said locals had been coming forward with copies of some of the old memorabilia that used to line the walls in the main bar.
The couple also had nothing but praise for their seven staff members who had all been volunteering their time and helping out however they could.
Mrs Greensill's sister has brought some clothes up for her and the couple are staying at son John's place until something more permanent is arranged.
Greg Rendell, Mrs Greensill's son in law came up from Tin Can Bay on Sunday to help with the tidying up.
"We did an assessment to get water to the site and check the drains," he said.
Mr Rendell said they salvaged the hot water unit from the ruins and with a donated sink, he hoped to have the shed pub fitted with a fully functional sink by this afternoon.
"We had at least 20 blokes here yesterday from SES and different tradies. We had blokes putting down the gravel and building the rock wall and putting the tarps up," he said.
It also took less than a day to erect the two sturdy bars inside the shed.
Garry Steward and John Mulcahy are retired posties from the Sunshine Coast and were riding through Kandanga today when they stopped into the makeshift bar for a drink.
"I was only here on Thursday last week. It's changed a bit since then. But the beer's still cold," he said.
Janita Smoothey is one of the kitchen staff and used to clean the accommodation rooms at the pub and said its destruction is a big loss to the community.
"We'll get through," she said.
Charles Kilpatrick is another local who popped into the pub today for a quick soft drink and said he was happy to see the pub up and running.
"It's great,' he said.
Karen McRae normally helps with the book-keeping but today she was moonlighting as bar-maid. She said the actions of local, Suzie Wright, early Saturday morning probably saved the Greensill's lives.
"She knew exactly where they were and where they were sleeping," she said.
Ms Wright was humble when the Gympie Times spoke with her.
"It was Jan really (A neighbour of Suzie's). She woke me up and then went around waking other neighbours. She wouldn't give up," Ms Wright said.