Moree's Royal Hotel names lounge bar after Moree poet Murray Hartin

Murray Hartin (second from left) with The Royal Hotel owners Debbie, Tim and Maddie Evans in front of the newly-named 'Murray Hartin Lounge' bar. Photo: supplied
Murray Hartin (second from left) with The Royal Hotel owners Debbie, Tim and Maddie Evans in front of the newly-named 'Murray Hartin Lounge' bar. Photo: supplied

He's certainly not dead, but Murray Hartin's legacy will live on for years to come thanks to The Royal Hotel, which recently named its lounge bar after the local poet.

The Royal Hotel has a tradition of naming its lounge bar after famous poets. When the Evans family bought the pub about 13 years ago, the lounge area had two entrances and, depending on which door you came through, it was called the Pick Wick Lounge or the Dickens Lounge.

"We thought, why should Murray have to wait to pass away before he gets any recognition in town," The Royal Hotel's Maddie Evans said.

"He's a fantastic poet, one of the best we'll ever see in our lifetime and one of the most talented artists to come out of Moree.

"Murray's father used to regularly drink in the front bar back in the day and Murray used to deliver papers to the pub when he was younger, so we thought it'd be a fitting tribute to him."

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"We nagged him for a bit and said 'let's get you another book launch', since he'd just released Fair Crack of the Whip and then COVID happened," Maddie said.

"We said, 'we'd love to have something at the pub, can you come in and spin a few yarns for us'. We told a few of his mates what was happening."

So on June 12, the second Friday since The Royal reopened after COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, the pub got Muz in to spin a few yarns and share some of his poems in the beer garden in front of about 35 of his closest mates.

Muz recited a few poems and told a few yarns in the beer garden at The Royal Hotel, before he found out that the Evans family had renamed the lounge bar after him. Photo: supplied

Muz recited a few poems and told a few yarns in the beer garden at The Royal Hotel, before he found out that the Evans family had renamed the lounge bar after him. Photo: supplied

Unbeknown to Muz, it was also the unveiling of the new Murray Hartin Lounge bar. While Muz was reciting his first few poems, Tim was nailing the plaque above the bar which now reads 'The Murray Hartin Lounge - poet extraordinaire'.

"Any time I've done a function there we've always done it up the eastern end where you could see into the bar," Muz explained.

"This time, they convinced me to do it from the other end for some reason. I later found out why.

"I did three poems and when I finished, Tim came and grabbed the microphone and said, 'we didn't want to wait until you're dead, so we named the bar after you'.

"I teared up, I'm nearly tearing up now just thinking about it. It's really special.

"I certainly wasn't expecting it."

Although there is a big clock in Cockle Bay with four lines of his poem Colours of Australia etched into the back, Muz said having a bar in his hometown named after him is a particularly special honour. He said The Royal holds many memories for him and his late dad.

"My old man would have been proud," he said.

"I remember as a kid going in with dad and all his cattle buying mates. As a 10-year-old I was a paper boy and would rush to finish my round to get to The Royal when it was packed to sell newspapers. When the papers went from 8 cents to 10 cents it killed us paper boys because we lost all our tips.

"The first time I drank there was 40 years ago. I was 17 and middies were 45 cents. You could go to the pub with 10 bucks and go home a bit wobbly and still have a dollar or two left in your pocket."

And while he's "prepared to cop a bit of a ribbing" from his mates about having a bar named after him, Muz thanked the Evans family for the gesture.

"It's a wonderful gesture," he said.

"I don't know if it was deserved, but it's very special."

Maddie said it was a great night, and the unveiling of the new bar name was not only a chance to celebrate Muz but an opportunity to celebrate their reopening after being shut for 70 days as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.

"It was just as much about Murray and being open as it was about having a yarn with your mates and catching up with everyone," she said.

"It was a long time that we were shut; we did a fair bit of work around the pub during that time."