Today the tiny locale of Leigh Creek is known as the home of Kryal Castle, but long before modern-medieval times there was a popular hotel for which the town was recognised.
The Leigh Creek Hotel was a pub well-loved by local potato farmers and passing truck drivers, who stopped in at all hours of the night for a meal cooked by an on-call 'chef'. It had stood on the corner of the Melbourne highway and Black Swamp Road since at least 1885, and most probably longer in one form or another.
Its welcome came to an end in late July 1970, however when a fire started in the kitchen and dining room early on a Sunday morning. In a short time the hotel was all but destroyed, with just a few rooms left standing.
Trish O'Donohue was a local girl who had started working at the Leigh Creek as an 18-year-old in 1963. Working in the kitchen, she stayed until 1968, but was still living nearby when the fire consumed the local watering hole.
"It became a steakhouse," Trish says of the dining room, and served hearty meals to the passing truck trade en route to South Australia.
"It was a popular little spot. There was a lot of potato farmers, too true, and the older guys sitting at the end of the bar, which really kept the pubs going in those days."
Owned by Rex Pilkington and his wife Joan, the Leigh Creek Hotel had been rebuilt around the time of the First World War, remodelled in red brick. The original facade is still visible today, behind advertising hoardings, with the name 'Leigh Creek' picked out, although the word 'Hotel' has since been covered over.
The Pilkingtons were well-respected publicans and the hotel was a successful venture, says Trish, now 75.
"We opened at midday for counter lunches, and we were still there at 10 o'clock at night, doing meals from 6pm til 10pm. Everything was cooked on a big, double oven wood stove, so that had to be fired up in the morning and we had to get the veges and the meat and get everything ready."
Unfortunately for the Pilkingtons, they were at their holiday home in Apollo Bay when the fire broke out in 1970.
The Courier reported that gas cylinders at the rear of the pub kept onlookers in fear as they flamed out, and a lack of water meant the fire was unable to be extinguished effectively.
A "PA system, stereo set-up and phonograph records valued at $12,000" were lost in the blaze.
It appears the fire put an end to the pub, at least as a hotel. Once touted as the only pub between Ballarat and Deer Park, it's now a fish and chip shop and takeaway business.
Trish was living nearby at the time of the fire, but says she had no idea what had happened until it was over.