ROCKY ICON: Owners of The Criterion Hotel Megan and Ryan Turnbull.
ROCKY ICON: Owners of The Criterion Hotel Megan and Ryan Turnbull. Allan Reinikka ROK080917criterio

The grand old Rocky pub that has seen it all

IT'S been the eye of Rockhampton, the watcher on the river, warm, welcoming and iconic.

For more than 150 years - matched only by this newspaper - the Criterion Hotel has stood the test of time, one constant throughout flood, fire, famine and depression.

Sitting on the banks of the mighty Fitzroy River, its foundations running deep into the heart of the city, it is Rockhampton to the core.

Originally known as "the Bush Inn" - now coined with the more modernised name "the Cri" - the heritage- listed building on Fitzroy and Quay Sts has sat by as the city changed around it.

Bridges one and two were built, fellow hotels came in and out, while the Cri has bided its time - the one classical place to quench that hard-earned thirst.

Owned by the Turnbull family since 1991, it is their task of keeping the Cri's heritage look up to date - a task easier said than done.

 

Owners of The Criterion Hotel Megan and Ryan Turnbull.
Owners of The Criterion Hotel Megan and Ryan Turnbull. Allan Reinikka ROK080917criterio

"It is a bit like the Sydney Harbour Bridge," owner Ryan Turnbull explained.

"Once they finished painting the entire thing, they realised they needed to start painting it again.

"She (as he refers to the hotel) just needs to be maintained. Why would you change her?

"The foyer, the staircase and the function room are some of the oldest parts of the hotel. They've been there for 120 years and you don't need to touch them to improve them."

Ryan said his hotel was blessed in location and looks. Few venues in Rockhampton ticked so many boxes.

 

Owners of The Criterion Hotel Megan and Ryan Turnbull.
Owners of The Criterion Hotel Megan and Ryan Turnbull. Allan Reinikka ROK080917criterio

He said it took time away from the Cri for him to notice how iconic it was.

"It is when you come back that you truly appreciate it," he said.

"You see too many big firms turn old pubs into modern venues. We are very lucky in the way she was built. The brick work foundations, how they handle the floods and movement, goes to show they really knew what they were doing all those years ago."

 

The Criterion Hotel circa 1873. Photo Courtesy the State Library of Queensland.
The Criterion Hotel circa 1873. Photo Courtesy the State Library of Queensland.

It has housed Queen Elizabeth II, "the King" Wally Lewis and Russell Crowe - as well as a friendly ghost for a random tap on the shoulder - and acted as headquarters for the US Army in the Second World War - but it's a pub through and through.

Albeit one flowing with class by the keg.


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