Booklovers’ surprise

Hampton Arms Inn, Greenough

Hampton Arms Inn, Greenough

The quaint Hampton Arms Inn in Company Road, two kilometres south-west of the Greenough Hamlet, is one of only a handful of Australian colonial hotels that has survived from the nineteenth century.

Opened in 1863, not long after the Greenough Front Flats were first settled, the building retains all of its original architecture and form, with a central two-storey section and single storey wings on each side. In its hey-day, the Inn was a focal point for social gatherings, balls and meetings of all kinds for the settlers in the district.

Not surprisingly, this charming old building was classified by the National Trust in 1977 and placed on the Register of the National Estate in 1978. It was placed on the Shire of Greenough’s historic buildings list in 1984.

Lovingly restored by its current owners, Judy and Brian Turnock, it still functions as a licensed inn. A restaurant and upstairs accommodation, with patchwork quilts on the beds, add to a homely welcome.

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These cute fellows sit either side of one of the doors to the bar

These cute fellows sit either side of one of the doors to the bar

The day John and I visited, members of the Geraldton Yacht Club and their guests from other clubs were celebrating the end of the racing season. They had taken over the beer garden and welcomed us warmly, but there was barely seating room for two more people.

‘That sounds like a pleasant enough place,’ you might say.

But the Hampton Arms Inn is much more than a pleasant pub. Apart from its historical significance, what amazed us was the completely unexpected second-hand bookshop, which starts in the bar and spreads into at least four of the ground-floor rooms. There were tables and chairs in these rooms, for the benefit of customers.

A small sample of books at the Hampton Arms Inn

A small sample of books at the Hampton Arms Inn

Owner Brian, a genial host who on the day we were there doubled as the bartender, describes this part of his business as ‘Hampton Books at the Inn: Rare and out of Print, a place where you can browse an antiquarian bookshop with a beer in hand.’ As well as the physical bookshop, Brian also runs an online bookshop at hamptonarms@westnet.com.au

I didn’t ask his age; it’s not the sort of thing one does. But now I wish I had and that he hadn’t been so busy with the yacht club in the courtyard. I would have liked to talk to him more. I wanted to know what brought him and Judy to Greenough. I wish I’d asked what prompted them to take on such an enormous restoration project and how he came to develop his bookshop in such an out-of-the-way place.

I have probably missed the opportunity for a different post, one about another  person who is ageing in style.

But during that day in Greenough, what could have been more appealing to John and me, a couple of passionate readers on holidays, than to spend an afternoon browsing among books we loved, and making small-talk with the owner of a bookshop?

We discovered a wealth of Australiana, included some books that had been companions in our long-ago childhoods. We also spotted other favourites and came away with an armful of reasonably priced volumes, chosen almost randomly from the wealth  on offer – delightful reading for the rest of the time we spent in Western Australia’s Mid-West Region.

This unexpected, well-hidden treasure trove was, indeed, as its owners say, a bibliophile’s dream come true.

6 thoughts on “Booklovers’ surprise

  1. Lovely pics. Makes me want to go there. but your blog has taken me there in a way. I think the books must be a good way of getting people to stay, as you wouldn’t be able to do them justice in an afternoon.

    • Yes, the books certainly added charm and interest to the Inn, Christina. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

    • It was my pleasure, Brian. John and I thoroughly enjoyed our too short visit to the Hampton Arms Inn. And, at 67 you definitely qualify as a person ageing with style!

  2. Amazing how you ferret out such interesting places to write about Maureen! The WA Tourism Commission should employ you, you have a wonderful way of making people want to visit whichever place you are visiting and writing about.
    I really like the way your blogs are to the point, unlike others I’ve read that ramble on and on without much meaning. Your words are there to inform not just to fill a page or two!! Always looking forward to your next one.

    • When I visited you in Bangkok, you actually showed me how to see ‘touristy’ things in a really meaningful way. I guess I have continued to think like that about wherever I go. Travelling and writing are two of my favourite occupations, so I’m glad you enjoy what I post. Thank you for your comment.

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