With NSW poised to today hit its 70 per cent first dose milestone, The Armatree Hotel near Gilgandra in country NSW has stepped in to do its bit.  

The hotel, which is owned by Ash and Lib Walker in the village of Armatree, has teamed up with the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) to become the state’s first vaccination hub in a pub.

Dubbo, the site of a current Covid cluster, is 110km from Armatree and is its closest main commercial centre, so vaccinating locals is a priority.

According to Ash Walker, one doctor and two nurses from the RFDS delivered Pfizer jabs to more than 200 locals from across the district and will return in a little over a week to deliver second doses.

He told Australian Hotelier that while most vaccination pop-ups have been located at town halls, the village of Armatree doesn’t have one. “They were keen to run the pop-up outdoors somewhere with public toilets, and they needed plenty of space. By 11 am we had more than 100 people lined up to be vaccinated.”

The pub put the word out via its social channels – it has 4,500 Facebook followers – and the local council did the same, Walker said.

“That was at 2.30 pm Friday and they were administering vaccines by 10.30 am the next morning. The post that we ran following the clinic was seen by 148,000 people, which shows the power of social media.”

Walker said everything was organised within 24 hours and people travelled huge distances to be vaccinated.

“It was great for the community who are pretty isolated out here and can’t wait to be back sitting together in the public bar.”

AHA NSW CEO John Whelan said country pubs are the heart of their communities and always step up in tough times.

“The Armatree Hotel is a real community hub, and this is a great initiative. Vaccines are now available, and we encourage all staff and patrons to be vaccinated as soon as possible.”

The Armatree Hotel was named Best Bush Pub in the AHA NSW Awards for Excellence in both 2018 & 2019.

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