A Big-ga role as a rural publican

The local watering hole plays a crucial role in many rural communities, including Bigga. 

“It keeps the community together,” says owner Denise Perry. “People come here and get to meet new faces.”

Federal Hotel owner Denise Perry. Photo: Xanthe Gregory

Federal Hotel owner Denise Perry. Photo: Xanthe Gregory

Denise and Richard Perry have owned the Federal Hotel on the main street of Bigga for 21 years. Before they moved to Bigga from Lithgow in 1998 with their three girls, neither had much experience in hospitality.

“I worked in aged care and Richard worked in the mines,” Mrs Perry said. “It’s a great lifestyle, not an easy lifestyle, but it was a great place for the girls to grow up, too.”

The first licence was granted to the small weatherboard shack next door. Today’s Federal Hotel was built in 1936.

Since buying the pub, Bigga has changed a lot, she says. The local mechanic has shut up shop and there are a lot of new faces. 

The pub trades seven days a week, only shutting Christmas day.

“It’s a good community spirit here, people are always happy to lend a helping hand,” Mrs Perry said.

Although, it’s not always easy being a small town pub owner: “It can be very hard when there’s drought because no one’s spending money.” 

Knowing so many of the locals means Mrs Perry can also help people find work. “I usually know if there’s any going so I can guide them into the right direction for it.”

Being on call 24/7 with the SES means Mrs Perry may have to put a sign on the pub door that she is responding to an emergency: “The only thing I haven’t had is a birth!”

For the pub’s future, Mrs Perry hopes someone younger will come along to take over the job when the time is right. Youngest daughter Hannah, 27, has shown some interest in the gig.