Project seeks stories and secrets of iconic Lismore pub building

Published 8 October 2012

Winsome Hotel
If only the walls of the iconic Winsome Hotel could talk … instead, the community is being invited to reminisce on its behalf to help gather stories reflecting the diverse roles the building has played in Lismore for more than a century.

‘Winsome Stories’ is a collaboration between Southern Cross University’s School of Arts and Social Sciences and NORPA (Northern Rivers Performing Arts), and part of an ongoing investigation into questions of home and belonging in the Northern Rivers.

“We see the Winsome as a key site in terms of Lismore’s history and its present,” said the University’s project manager, Dr Grayson Cooke.

“What ties together its history as a pub, gay and lesbian social space, live music venue and soup kitchen is the provision of hospitality. Hospitality is about accepting all-comers, about being open to whoever needs comfort, shelter, nourishment and a safe place to be.

“From the stories we’ve already gathered, it is clear that this has always been what the Winsome has been about, and the Winsome’s current role as soup kitchen and crisis accommodation carries on this important tradition.”

People with personal stories or historical records of significance relating to the Winsome (or its earlier incarnations, the North Lismore Hotel and the Junction Hotel) can contact Dr Cooke or post information on the project’s Facebook page, Stories from the Winsome Hotel, at

“From talking to people who currently live and work at the Winsome, or have done so in the past, what emerges really strongly is the openness of the place, the sense that it made everyone who walked through its doors into family,” said Dr Cooke.

“That’s really important, that’s what makes a hotel into a social institution.”

NORPA artistic director Julian Louis said the project was part of NORPA’s creative development program, Generator.

“The Winsome project is an exciting mix of community input, artistic expression and unique Lismore culture.

“Creating original, immersive works that take place outside the theatre is a Generator hallmark and a key part in how we engage with audiences and different communities in the region. The Winsome project encapsulates all of that,” he said.

The community is invited to celebrate the rich and varied life of Lismore’s iconic building at a free audio visual showing of ‘Winsome Stories’ at the Winsome Hotel on Saturday October 20 at 8.30pm. The Bridge Street Choir will be performing original songs and stories.

The event is being held in conjunction with the monthly Winsome Café night where the venue opens its doors to the public as a restaurant experience. To book a table for dinner between 6-10pm contact Sharon on 0447 224 205.

For further information or to share your stories about the Winsome Hotel, contact:

Dr Grayson Cooke (project manager)
Ph: 02 6620 3839

Zoe Robinson-Kennedy (project coordinator, and SCU Honours student)

Sharon Dwyer (Winsome Café)
0447 224 205

Mieke Bell (Lismore Soup Kitchen)
0407 789 528

‘Stories of the Winsome’ Facebook page

Photo: The original Junction Hotel, which burnt down and became the Winsome Hotel. Photo dated 1886. (Courtesy: Richmond River Historical Society)

Media contact: Sharlene King media officer, Southern Cross University Lismore, 02 6620 3508 or 0429 661 349.