Publican Andrew Cafe and daughter Addie keep the Royal Mail rocking.
Publican Andrew Cafe and daughter Addie keep the Royal Mail rocking. David Nielsen

Royal Mail reigns supreme

GLASS half full.

That is the spirit of optimism epitomised by Royal Mail publican Andrew Café and his daughter Addie as they reflect on the devastation caused by the 2011 floods and the way their legendary Goodna hotel has emerged, flying with a wet sail.

Five years ago it was a different story, with the pub closed for three months after being inundated by the Brisbane River.

The main capital costs in the aftermath of the flood were the gaming machines, with each costing $20,000 to replace. That required another hefty mortgage.

"I hate to say it, but you feel as though you have an extra $1000 a week that you have got to find for the mortgage," Andrew reflects.

"You are reminded of it every week.

"We shut for three months after the flood, and it was full-on.

"But the government response was fantastic and the response from the emergency services in cleaning up the streets and organising the volunteers was like a military operation.

"It was so well done. The rest of the community has bounced back beautifully, although there were some tragic stories too."

AWESOME: Royal Mail Hotel owner Andrew Cafe with the oar he used to defend his Goodna pub from floating debris during the 2011 floods.
AWESOME: Royal Mail Hotel owner Andrew Cafe with the oar he used to defend his Goodna pub from floating debris during the 2011 floods. David Nielsen

Addie manages the hotel alongside her dad and is still moved by the way the community rallied behind the pub in the wake of the floods.

"The cleanup was insane, but it was lovely the amount of people that came down and helped," she says.

"That is one of the things I will remember.

"There were a lot of customers and friends from school, and people you'd hardly ever talked to and weren't really associated with the pub.

"There was just such a good sense of community."

Andrew viewed the flood as an opportunity to do some renovations and make some needed changes.

"He looks at the bright side of that," Addie says.

"Our bar is definitely a lot better than what it was before.

"The pub has definitely recovered business wise.

"Everyone still comes down and it has some amazing days.

"I work 12 hours running not stop without getting a break...but it is good.

"There are some good bands."

ABOVE: A muddy mess outside the pub.

Good bands alright!

The Royal Mail was recognised by the International Blues Foundation as one of the oustanding Blues 'houses' in the world, winning the 2014 Keeping the Blues Alive Awards in the International category, an Australian first.

"That was good for our customers and our credibility," Andrew grins.

"Barbara Blue, the Queen of Beale St in Memphis, nominated the hotel for the award and she is coming here this year."

While perusing a 2011 flood photo Andrew pointed at the banana trees next to his pub and unfurls with a nice tale.

"We had the fattest and best bananas after the flood, because they were virtually under water the whole time," he grins.

"Every plant provides a hand, but it was just the size of them.

"We made the best banana fritters ever with them."

The secret to the Royal Mail's success is its community spirit.

As the flood waters were rising Andrew provided safe harbour for neighbours in the pub's upstairs accommodation.

"We had neighbours who were not expected to get flooded out and they were coming up to stay in the hotel," Andrew recalls.

"We had Korean neighbours, a couple next door. She was a concert pianist and had a grand piano and he had a job at the meatworks.

A boat parks outside the Royal Mail Hotel during the 2011 floods. ABOVE: A muddy mess outside the pub.
A boat parks outside the Royal Mail Hotel during the 2011 floods. ABOVE: A muddy mess outside the pub. Contributed

"Suddenly the water starting coming through the house.

"They had no idea they were in any danger.

"They ended up staying upstairs, along with other neighbours."

The water rose to a level just below the ceiling in the main bar.

Andrew went upstairs and saw imminent danger approaching, so he grabbed a giant oar and went to work. "Some shipping containers lifted off and floated with the current and started coming against the side of the building," he says.

"They went with the current down Brisbane Terrace and round the corner between a tree and the building, so I had to use the oars to push them away.

"They ended up settling in Brisbane Terrace."

The Royal Mail is nicely settled in Brisbane Terrace too.

One of the best pubs in the world, it has emerged through oodles of floods and just keeps on rockin'.