Mid West pub a place for counsel

Francesca MannMidwest Times
Pithara Tavern Owner Caroline Crombie has decided to sell the 102-year-old watering hole after running it for five years.
Camera IconPithara Tavern Owner Caroline Crombie has decided to sell the 102-year-old watering hole after running it for five years.

After five years of running the Pithara Tavern on her own, Caroline Crombie is reluctantly saying goodbye to the pub that has greeted travellers along the Great Northern Highway for 102 years.

“I’m tired and burnt out, but it’s hard to let it go,” Ms Crombie said after putting the pub on the market.

“It’s been a ride and I’ve had a wonderful lifestyle but being a single mum I have other responsibilities and it’s time.”

In 2012 Ms Crombie and her former husband, Andy, moved from Perth to Pithara, a tiny Wheatbelt town, home to around 110 people, 240km north of Perth in the Shire of Dalwallinu.

Having amalgamated two large families, the 2.43ha property and sprawling tavern was the perfect place to house their 10 kids and start a new adventure.

Ms Crombie, who grew up in Geraldton, effortlessly slipped back into the country lifestyle.

With more than 20 years of experience as a counsellor under the belt, the mother-of-five quickly found herself serving more than ice cold beers and home-cooked meals.

“The roles as a publican and counsellor are the same; you’re making life better for people,” Ms Crombie said.

“It’s the same goal, you just get to it from opposite directions; as a psychologist I lead people to their problems, but as a publican I distract them and minimise distress — it’s a different kind of therapy.

“People that come to a pub are more likely the people that aren’t going to rock up to a counsellor’s office. There’s such a great need for good mental health care in the bush … and I’m keen to do my little bit.”

Having just started her PhD before moving to Pithara, Ms Crombie said the tavern helped her discover the perfect topic for her thesis — the benefit of places like pubs and cafes to community mental health.

But with the deadline looming on her 100,000-word thesis, the 48-year-old said it’s time to buckle down and write.

“I need to get it done by April so I’m really under pressure to sell the tavern,” Ms Crombie said.

“I love the pub and believe in places like this — I think it’s valuable to the community and it’d be horrible to close it. It seems like a nice time to sell it and for someone to come in with fresh energy.”

Ms Crombie won’t be packing her bags and heading back to the big smoke any time soon; instead she plans on staying in Pithara and running her business, Speakeasy Counselling, from Dalwallinu.

The Pithara Tavern is listed for freehold sale on realcommercial.com.au.

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