Hotel music a deafening sound

Hotel music a deafening sound

In sleepy Swifts Creek, which is slowly awakening from a long COVID induced slumber, life is creaking back to normal.
However, attempts by the local publican to ramp things up a notch has collectively raised the eyebrows of some in the local community.
Russell Bowkett took over running the Albion Hotel in the aftermath of the Black Summer Bushfires and just four days before Victoria’s suffocating coronavirus lockdown saw businesses slammed shut across the state.
While it wasn’t a great welcome to Mr Bowkett’s new life in Swifts Creek, he was keen to make a difference to the town.
Recently he installed a new sound machine in the hotel for the community’s pleasure – so he thought.
The whiz bang music machine has three amplifiers through which the music can be channelled to various parts of the hotel, including outside in the courtyard and under the verandah out the front.
“History has it that the pub never had music, so I wanted to create a scene where people can have fun”, Mr Bowkett told the Advertiser.
To inform the general populace, and tourists alike, that the music is on offer, Mr Bowkett has been enthusiastically piping the music outside on a regular basis with tunes wafting through the streets of Swifts Creek.
But not all are enamoured with the strategy to attract patrons to the pub.
The loud music has bewildered and angered many who have vowed to boycott the local hotel.
Local resident and schoolteacher, John O’Neill is one of them.
Mr O’Neill’s house is perched high atop a hill, across the road from the Albion, and says the music is driving him to distraction.
“It’s incessant, seven days a week. It comes straight up the hill,” an exasperated Mr O’Neill said.
“Unless I’ve got my television on, I can hear it wherever I am in the house.
“I can’t use my outdoor area, I can’t go outside, I can’t read a book, I can’t go out in the garden,” Mr O’Neill said.
“I don’t live in Chapel Street or King Street, I live in a country town for a reason.”
Mr O’Neill recently made a complaint to police after he claims he awoke to music emanating through the town at 3.30am.
He is not alone in expressing his annoyance at the music.
The Advertiser spoke with others who have become weary of the music reverberating through the town.
One woman, a mother of two, who lives several hundred metres away from the hotel on the main street, said she was “exhausted by the noise pollution”.
“I rang the shire (East Gippsland Shire) and they took a week to get back to me and when they did they told me to ring the noise pollution hotline and emailed me a form,” the woman said, as she rolled her eyes.
“I have a toddler that I’m trying to get to sleep.
“I woke up at 3.50am one morning and it was blasting out. I was like am I dreaming,” she said.
“It was so loud, it was like it was in my bedroom.
“Heaps of people have spoken to him (publican) about it but he doesn’t seem to care,” the woman claimed.
Another mother of three children, who lives closer to the hotel, confirmed that the music was being played from the hotel at 3am on a morning recently.
“Sometimes it’s later. It’s like every bloody night,” she said.
“The kids are struggling to sleep, it’s so stressful. It just echoes around.
A recent complaint on a community Facebook page attracted a plethora of comments in support.
"Anyone know what to do about knob head n his loud doof doof ducking music that can be heard thru most of swifts ck township! There’s old ppl n ppl that wanna try sleep for work……” a post read.
When the Advertiser called by to speak with Mr Bowkett, he was having an afternoon siesta on his sofa in the front bar, with the music gently playing The Eagles’ classic, Hotel California.
Mr Bowkett appeared surprised there had been complaints about his music before pointing to two speakers outside the hotel to which the electrical wiring had been severed.
“I draw the line at vandalism, if people can’t come and talk to me,” he said.
“The speakers have been cut three times.
“It’s a pub, not a Sunday school and I have a license until 1am,” Mr Bowkett said in defence of his music.
“Very seldom has it gone to 1am,” he said.
When asked why the music could be heard at 3am, Mr Bowkett responded he was the only one in the pub and he had been “doing the dishes”.
Locals are hoping he doesn’t have to wash up too often.
In the meantime, many have decided to take their drinks and drown their sorrows at the local bowling club or the nearby football club.
Although, Mr Bowkett hopes the tourists will still drop by for drink. Maybe even a pink champagne on ice.
“It’s a great place,” said the sole patron - a local tradesman -having a beer in the bar on Wednesday after work.
Such a lovely place……

IMAGE: Swifts Creek publican, Russell Bowkett, behind the bar at the Albion Hotel last week. K148-876


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