Andrew Cafe celebrates the 30th anniversary of owning the Royal Mail Hotel with his loyal customers. Friends orgainsed a signed guitar as a gift for the popular publican.
Andrew Cafe celebrates the 30th anniversary of owning the Royal Mail Hotel with his loyal customers. Friends orgainsed a signed guitar as a gift for the popular publican. David Nielsen

Best pubs in Queensland: Home of the blues

IT IS 14,080 kilometres from Beale St, Memphis to The Royal Mail Hotel in Goodna.

But despite their physical distance from each other the two landmarks are known throughout the world as spiritual homes of the Blues.

Royal Mail publican Andrew Café has the trophy to prove it.

Each year, The Blues Foundation presents the Keeping the Blues Alive (KBA) Awards to individuals and organisations that have made significant contributions to the blues world.

The Royal Mail Hotel won the International KBA award in January of 2014, the first time in history Australia had taken out a KBA in any category.

Andrew has the trophy proudly sitting in the front bar, although some of the patrons have a funny idea about what the award means.

"From my customers' point of view, it was like, 'Where is the free beer'. But there is no free beer," Andrew grins.

"But it is recognition for them as well. They are proud, because they already loved the venue.

"It gives the artists that play here more credibility and it gives us more credibility."

"It is a recognition of consistency...and that this is a destination. It might reflect that we are more real than Main Street."

Royal Mail Hotel owner and recipient of the 2014 'Keeping the Blues Alive' award Andy Cafe and his daughter Addie Cafe.
Royal Mail Hotel owner and recipient of the 2014 'Keeping the Blues Alive' award Andy Cafe and his daughter Addie Cafe. David Nielsen

And 'real' is exactly how you would describe The Royal Mail. It has been a haven of support for the blues and live music of many genres for 31 years.

So what does this recognition mean for the man in charge of the classic 'Juke Joint'.

"I guess for me it means that people now say, 'Well, you can't leave'," Andrew smiles.

"But we don't know how long is left on our clock. I've got my daughter (Addie) working here more and more and she enjoys it. We can only look two or three years ahead at a time, be positive and then reassess."

The wooden structure of the pub, its welcoming veranda and rustic interior with music references plastered over the walls and old beer kegs holding up long benches provide the right atmosphere.

"For people overseas, it represents what a classic Aussie pub should be," Andrew says.

The Royal Mail is not just a blues house. It supports live music of many genres and hosts artists such as burlesque star Bertie Page.

We provide entertainment for people," Andrew says.

"A lot of people can't get out of this area for a variety of reasons and it just provides an oasis. I had to create an environment that is pleasant for everyone to be in and not just the drone of the horse races. It has to be more than that.

"Barbara Blue, known as the Queen of Beale St in Memphis, came here to visit a while ago as part of a tour she was doing of Australia," Andrew says.

"She had such a great time here I think she was the catalyst for us getting this award."

Awards committee chairman Art Tipaldi described the Royal Mail Hotel as a "national icon in the blues music industry" and a "must play" venue for any touring artist within the genre. The trophy has a few bumps and bruises on it, fitting for a blues award.

"It looks like it might have survived the floods," Andrew grins.

The 150-year-old pub itself has survived six floods, including the 2011 deluge where Andrew famously was on the second floor pushing away shipping containers with an oar that were floating down Brisbane Terrace.

The pub hosts blues bands from across the nation, puts on afternoon jam sessions and workshops and welcomes international artists. While the pub wouldn't be what it is without the musicians, the public have kept the pub going.

The Courier-Mail had a chat to one patron who was proud of some of his own writings, or "mad ravings and ramblings" as he called them.

We said to him: "It is like entering another world when you come here."

He replied: "It is our world. Is there another one?"

It certainly is a wonderful world down at The Royal Mail. A world of fun.



Horrific kitchen accident led to woman's new business

premium_icon Horrific kitchen accident led to woman's new business

This North Coast woman needed a new purpose in life

Rail trail riders could introduce mad cow disease: OPINION

premium_icon Rail trail riders could introduce mad cow disease: OPINION

Biosecurity risk of proposed rail trail is very real, says reader

'SMOKE TORNADO': Spectacular footage from Casino burn-off

'SMOKE TORNADO': Spectacular footage from Casino burn-off

Watch the videos: RFS volunteers capture strange phenomenon

Local Partners