My name is Hayley Giemza and my family have a rich history with the City of Port Phillip.
My family bought their first Hotel in 1986 in St Kilda. It was the St Kilda Inn which is located on the corner of Grey St and Barkly St. As a family we lived upstairs on top of the pub and every day we worked, breathed and lived it. I was 13 years old, my brother only 7yrs and we encountered a childhood rich in experiences. Growing up in St Kilda in the 80’s was controversial. Bojangles was still in operation which bought a lot of the underworld to the area. However, The St Kilda Inn was known as a second home for the New Zealand community and the culture inside the Pub varied from the streets. The pub was adorned with beautiful Māori carvings. The beer garden was always full of the community cooking traditional foods for one another, using the pub to teach traditional dance and perform cultural dance and the ever-exciting Haka! We sponsored the St Kilda Rugby League which created another element of connection. I remember my friends and their parents coming from Brighton, walking into the establishment initially intimidated and then welcomed by open arms once introduced to the local community. I remember being dropped home from a trip to Mt Buller by a school family and they asked if Mum and Dad were home. I replied “no, they are away however all the locals will look after me”. The staff were full time and took their positions whole heartedly. It taught me the values of a strong local community and what the original Public House was designed for.
In 1986 Liquor Licences were difficult to receive. It involved exams, Justice of the Peace, the Sergeant of St Kilda Police and proof that the Publican was an upstanding citizen, so a Publican took their role seriously. This in turn taught me the importance of the local pub, being pivotal for people to congregate, share opinions, show compassion to others and the Publican historically being a shoulder for the best and worst times for many.
Life of the Publican’s Daughter continued. In 1990 my family bought the New Market Hotel in Inkerman St, St Kilda which was the only early opener in the City of Port Phillip. The Council yards were across the road and every Wednesday afternoon the bar was full of big burly blokes swigging 7oz glasses, throwing their pay cheques over the bar because the Publican could cash it quicker than the banks. I have memories of all walks of life stepping into that front bar at 7am. Either still partying from the night before or needing a quick chin wag before the day begins. It was a working man’s pub with Marika in the kitchen providing the biggest chicken schnitzel with a capsicum and paprika sauce to soak up and cure remanence of the previous evening. Working the Pub was like no other vocation. It wasn’t 9-5, 40 hour weeks. It was a lifestyle, every day and every night open to everyone! I could write a book about those teenage years in St Kilda. Every day bought new experiences, new people, new stories which in turn taught me about the rich history of the area.
Life in Pubs continued with my family buying the Fountain Inn. The Fountain Inn was on the corner of Bay St and Crockford St, Port Melbourne and was known as the Fountain Inn due to the old watering fountain placed in front of the Pub for horses to draw water. Unfortunately, it no longer exists. The pub was quickly transformed into an Irish epicentre with Eddie Hayes as the Manager who was considered the God Father of the Irish community. A man who was always the life of the party. The Pub was renamed The Blarney Stone and had a 3am licence which enabled live music most evenings. My brother and I would trudge to school, blazers smelling of cigarettes, learning to sleep with the high-pitched laughter and drum beat from below. Once again, a pub full of community and culture, only this time being Irish. I can’t even explain the excitement and activities of St Patricks Day. Bay St was completely closed to traffic and the community would walk from Molly Blooms (beach end of Bay St) to the Blarney Stone. Marquees set up between the infamous Faram Bros hardware and the Pub. Stages with young dancers showcasing traditional Irish dance. The Council was open minded with less red tape and the community was richer for it. I remember every hotel in Bay St having to enter a team of four people for a boat race from one end of Bay St to the other. Eight Competing boats all representing a Pub, lined up ready to race 1.5km. Unfortunately, our 4 competitors had a skinful of Guinness by the midday start and our boat painted with the lucky 4 leaf clover was built of wood, whilst others made of polystyrene. Obviously, not thought out too well although riveting and joyful for local spectators. It felt as if the good times continued for years.
Next stop was the Middle Park Hotel. Suddenly, we found ourselves in a quiet, gentrified establishment with only 4 older gentlemen “the barflies”, frequenting the front bar from 11am-2pm. However, our family quickly changed that. Overnight the hotel filled with young people from Albert Park. Team sports all congregating 5 nights a week, celebrating their wins or commiserating their losses. The back dark nightclub transformed, habits were changing and so was the expectation of the local Pub. No longer the 7 oz swill but the communal jugs being filled with flowing Carlton Draught. The everlasting chicken parma being a Pub staple, materialised. I’m a firm believer that a pub has a particular purpose. It is not a restaurant; it is not a café. It is a stand-alone establishment for the community. Any one is welcome and should be treated with respect. Give the punter what they want and deserve.
It was the year the Middle Park Hotel experienced its first Grand Prix. The crowds were enormous which overflowed into the local watering holes. I thought St Patricks Day was crowded until I experienced the Melbourne Grand Prix. 10 security guards standing on wine barrels scattered around the pub and the street. Once again closed off for people to enjoy the surrounding atmosphere and glorious sunshine Melbourne occasionally showcases. Larrikins were tossed into nearby taxis by security men looking as wide as tall. The typical caricature of the 90’s bouncer. This allowing for the locals and families to enjoy the festivities. It was like the Royal Melbourne Show on your doorstep. The Redbull cars, the flag bearing girls, Melbourne was alive.
Next Stint was across the Westgate to create another Irish successful venue however the family quickly returned to the beloved roots of Port Phillip. The Palmerston Hotel. A pub steeped in tradition, owned originally by old Ma Monroe for 60 years and then passed onto us. Receiving that Pub was like receiving a museum, full of historical remnants from yesteryear. 1950’s photos of local scallywags laughing, standing around the then circular bar which I framed proudly around the walls. I clearly remember the first day I walked into that Pub. My family had told me I was taking over the following day and I should go and see what needed to be done. It was an absolute eyesight. Originally, I thought the barmaid was a stripper. The entire pub looked as if it was an ice cream shop. Pastel walls with white plastic furniture. I remember asking the barman for a coffee and being swiftly sent across the road. How things have changed. Within months the Palmerston was transformed, a quick lick of paint and a new start. Suddenly, the menu and staff changed and so did the clientele. It became a Hub for businesspeople within the area to meet and eat. With a catchy slogan, “Have a Parmie at the Palmie”, quickly the Palmerston Hotel became known in the community. Murals decorating the exterior. Many will remember driving down Kings Way, seeing a mural of a man hanging out the front window or Jackie Collins kicking a goal. Saturdays were full of men and women alike drinking and punting. It feels as if my entire life has been one long bar full of characters, there are Gunners and Longy’s, Skinnies and Sausages, Wayno’s and Rockets all nicknames that continue from Pub to Pub.
The Latest stop, but not the last, is The Rising Sun Hotel, South Melbourne. What an establishment and what a time like no other. Even though the Hotel is located in a strong socio-economic suburb, we offer food and beverages at reasonable prices to accommodate everyone. The Rising Sun Hotel is your quintessential Australian community Pub. Therefore, it brings great sadness that the first time in history, Government has forced closure on such an important establishment for so many to seek solace. However, let’s not dwell on the constant talk of closures but the reopening of business bringing laughter, joy, a social backdrop for our ever-evolving community. The Rising Sun Hotel, the home of the South Melbourne (Sydney) Swans. The Riser, an institution for footy, racing, good food, cold beer and an avenue for live music. Once a pub tucked away, for the working-class man born into the rough and tumble of South Melbourne, shirking from the ever-looming St Kilda Rd Police precinct. Evolving from a pub surrounded by the local dairy to one now surrounded by 12 storey buildings, housing corporates, hungry for a break from the office surround. To now, a pub transformed back to its roots. Offices becoming apartments with new locals, neighbours, The Riser, a thriving community meeting point. Community supporting each-other’s needs and expectations through these changing times.
Although these establishments vary, the heart of the Pub never does. I hope I have given you an insight into my life in the City of Port Phillip. I’m sure my story has given you a taste of why I live in such an eclectic space and clearly displays my passion for people.
Who knows where the next chapter of my life takes-off? Catch you for a drink soon.
Hayley’s family owned over a dozen Hotels in Melbourne. She is still today known as the “Publicans Daughter” at The Rising Sun Hotel, is married to Mal Wakefield and has 2 boys. She continues to live in the vibrant City of St Kilda.
Who are you and what is your connection with our Port Phillip community?
I am Paul Dimattina. Proprietor of Lamaro’s Hotel, proud Elwood resident and supporter of the local community and sporting clubs.
We sponsor Middle Park Primary school and Kindergarten, St Kilda City Junior Football Club, St Kilda Cricket Club, South Melbourne Park Primary school, Elwood Primary School market and many more local coomunity groups.
Why do you choose to live in Port Phillip?
I chose to live here as I have always loved the eclectic cosmopolitan feel of Elwood. It has a very relaxed vibe and we have so many liked minded friends that live in the area. We also have easy access to the beach, lots of parks and gardens and plenty of great cafes and restaurants.
What is your passion?
My passion is family, food, football and friends!! I am really lucky that I have been able to live my childhood dreams of owning my own restaurant/pub and playing AFL football. Hospitality is in my blood and I just love the social aspect of what we do. I really love my food and wine and being in hospitality I get to enjoy these every day!!
Tell us about the impact in these challenging times.
The last 18 months have been the toughest and most challenging of my business life.
The uncertainty and restraints put on us are a great strain.
The tears from the staff every time we get sent into another Lockdown are heart wrenching.
Total days the hospitality has been shut in Melbourne is 232 days and counting.
Total days all of us have been locked in our homes is 206 days. There were a further 26 days when lockdown had ended but we were not permitted to open.
When we have been allowed to trade, we have been working with severe capacity restrictions for another 300 days, and counting. We first got hit with capacity restrictions on 18/03/20.
230+ days of forced closure.
302+ days of capacity limits and restrictions.
It is not easy trying to run a business with a maximum capacity of 50% but still incurring full operational costs!!!
The greatest challenge has been staff retention and to provide leadership, inspiration and hope for them.
We treat our staff like family here at Lamaro’s and I feel a great sense of obligation to assist them through these tough times.
It is particularly hard for the casual workforce?
We have provided assistance in the form of food and personal loans where needed.
The mental toll has been debilitating not only to the staff but also to us in leadership and management roles.
A great leader inspires, a great leader cares, a great leader shows empathy and compassion and a great leader leads from the front and does everything possible to keep up morale and hope.
I have been doing my utmost to be the best leader I can be and to instill hope and positivity into the wonderful team that works with me.
Tough times don’t last, tough people do!!
We pride ourselves on being a community hub and knowing our customers personally.
We love tending to their needs and seeing the smiles we can put on people’s faces.
We love to surprise and delight our customers.
We look forward to welcoming you with open arms when we get to open again.
Wendy you’ve recently been appointed the
President of the Rotary Melbourne South – what does your role involve?
My role is work with our club members to identify projects that we know will have the biggest and most sustainable impact on the local, broader and global communities. We depend on fund raising and grants to complete our projects. Publicly we are mostly known for the famous Bunning’s Sausage Sizzles and the money from these events goes towards making a difference to so many lives.
You have some exciting news re an upcoming merger
How proud we are at Rotary Port Melbourne and Rotary Melbourne South, as we have decided to merge into one bigger club, Rotary Port Phillip, as from 1st October. You read it here first! A bigger club has more resources, skills and synergy to have a broader reach to serve communities. We will have the capacity to set up some e-clubs for businesses in the area and an e-club for Interactors heading off to tertiary studies.
What are some of the projects the club is delivering?
Here’s a snapshot: Kitchen Garden at the South Melbourne Towers public housing, involvement with the Pollinators Corridor from Port Melbourne to South bank, introducing Earlyact (primary schools), partnering with Interact (secondary students), distribution of bakery items from Noisette to various charities, sending two containers of medical equipment and medical supplies to a hospital in Moyo, Uganda, delivering care packages to those being admitted into the Mental Health Unit at the Alfred Hospital. We do have other projects on the go so come along and see if you would like to join us.
How does the Club decide on what projects to pursue?
The areas of focus are promoting peace, fighting disease, providing clean water, sanitation and hygiene, saving mothers and children, supporting education, growing local economies, and sustainability and the environment. In essence we assess a situation, decide on a project, make a plan, carry out the project and evaluate the project. Rotary Park on Jacka Boulevard is a case in point; land that had limited use will be an area where families can barbecue together and play on the new playground equipment. Rotary saw a niche to support families, collaborated with the community, CoPP and other rotary clubs. By December this year, you will see the finished product.
There seems to be a lot of facets to Rotary like foundation and international – how does it all work?
Service Above Self: Rotary International aims to bring together business people and professionals with the prospect of providing humanitarian assistance and to further peace throughout the world. Rotary Foundation transforms monetary gifts into life changing projects both locally and internationally as it is the charitable arm. Clubs can apply for grants through Rotary Foundation.
The structure is in three different levels: clubs (Rotary Port Phillip being one), district and international.
To an outsider Rotary seems like an old-fashioned organisation – yet it has stood the test of time for over 100 years?
Rotary is a vibrant and successful institution which has proven itself over the past 100 years. There are 1.2 million Rotarians globally. It has grown with the times as well as it once was the domain of working males but now is far more diverse and equal. I suppose Rotary isn’t particularly great at publicising itself. After I joined, I was staggered when I discovered the extent of Rotary’s impact locally and globally.
Competing for the charity $ must be tough in the current environment?
It is as is everything else in this current climate. However, every disruption results in change and some of those changes can be beneficial. Rotarians have been productive through organising events and activities for post lockdown, reaching out to our more vulnerable members of the community and continuing with our own knowledge bank.
How does one join rotary?
I joined Rotary because, I knew I wanted to be part of an organisation that would enable me to give back to the community. You can come along to our meetings, perhaps volunteer and when you decide it’s right for you, then approach one of the members. Our Club’s Membership contact is Ronald Adams – firstname.lastname@example.org
Credit - Warwick Lloyd