Victoria’s third-oldest pub bought as Vietnam vet retreat

The Macarthur Hotel has become a retreat for war veterans.
The Macarthur Hotel has become a retreat for war veterans.

One of Victoria’s oldest pubs has become a retreat for war veterans after being snapped up by a Vietnam vet — but beer will keep flowing at the 160-year-old watering hole, just for a smaller clientele.

Greg Carter this month settled on the Macarthur Hotel, in the state’s west north of Portland and Port Fairy, after securing it for $250,000.

He’s since begun shifting the Cockatoo Rise Retreat he ran from his former home, which is on the market near Bairnsdale, into the bluestone beauty.

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Carter hosted “hundreds and hundreds” of former and serving defence personnel on his 21.6ha property at 575B Great Alpine Rd, Sarsfield over 14 years.

The pub, which needs a bit of work, sold for $250,000.

Greg Carter has run Cockatoo Rise Retreat for former war vets for 14 years.

Many of his guests served in Vietnam like Carter, who was there for 12 months in 1969.

Some were homeless and seeking support to get back on their feet, while others needed a break from day-to-day life.

As was the case at his previous home, Carter says “anyone who’s worn a uniform for our country” could stay at the Macarthur Hotel at 26 High St, either in the pub’s rooms, a permanent caravan the vet has set up on its 2800sqm block or in their own caravans.

“When we started (the retreat), I kept hearing the same thing over and over again: there is no real support,” he says.

Carter has also transferred his museum, featuring war memorabilia donated by veterans and dating back to WWI, into the pub and plans to reopen the bar to vets.

The Macarthur Hotel’s history stretches back about 160 years.

Mr Carter served in Vietnam in 1969.

“The pub won’t be open in the normal sense. But when we have events on, it will be a fantastic place for the guys,” he says.

Carter says the hotel — which his research has revealed to be “the third oldest pub in Victoria” — ticked all the boxes as a new site for his retreat, featuring extra bedrooms for vets plus a commercial kitchen to better cater for them.

The property had operated as a pub right up to him taking ownership, but still needed some work.

“It’s magnificent building,” he says.

“But the place was in a bit of a sad state.

“Anyone who’s got carpentry or painting skills who would like to put their hand up (to help renovate it), I’d be very grateful.”

Carter’s Sarsfield property is listed with Harcourts Bairnsdale’s Paul Johnston, and a $1.395 million asking price.

This article from the Herald Sun originally appeared as “Macarthur Hotel sale: new site of Cockatoo Rise Retreat for veterans”.