A campaign to raise funds for the rebuilding of the historic 120 year old Buchan Caves Hotel will wrap up on 13 August.

The Pozible crowdfunding campaign was launched after the Hotel, in the small community of Buchan, east Victoria, was destroyed by a fire last year.

“Let’s Build a Pub” has accepted 750 pledges so far and earned close to $400,000 in donations, just $200,000 short of its $600,000 target.

The community hope to see a new pub in Buchan by Christmas.

“The pub was the heart and soul of our community,” the former pub owner, Greg Brick, said. “If someone died, you held the wake there, if a baby was born, we celebrated the birth there. We had grown men standing outside the burning pub drowning in tears. The pub was our social centre and it kept the community connected.”

Brick and his wife, Marg, who sold the pub in 2012 but retained an interest as shareholders and still own the land, will make up the shortfall in the cost of rebuilding.

“We have sought legal advice and drawn up stringent guidelines on how the money will be managed so it’s clear the community and our visitors will benefit from the rebuild. We’re aiming to reach $600,000 in our campaign, and if we reach that then we would be in a position to borrow the rest and start the rebuild,” Brick said.

“It would be amazing to achieve our dollar target within the 60 day timeframe though the sky’s the limit really. The more money we raise, the better the new pub will be which will only create more jobs for the town, not only during the build but also in the business as soon as it’s up and running.”

The couple have had offers from people interested in buying the land, but they’ve all been turned down.

“We feel an obligation to the town to preserve this site for a pub,” Brick said. “Both buyers wanted to build other services, not a hotel. It’s tempting to sell the land and cut our losses, but I could never hold my head high in this town again. It’s not fair to the community that supported us, and it’s not fair to the tourists who come here expecting a restaurant and pub. What’s a country town without a pub?”

Crowdfunding works by enabling interested people to donate small amounts of money rather than seeking large amounts from just a few. Individuals can visit the website, read the story and pledge dollars for “rewards”, such as a project t-shirt, membership of a ‘Pub Club’, or a named brass plaque in the new bar. If the campaign reaches its $600,000 goal, the pledges will be converted to credit card payments and the host transfers the money to a trust fund established for the purpose, to be managed by a board.

In June, fellow publican Bugs Ryan launched a crowdfunding campaign to help fund renovations at the Tatura Hotel.

“We need a hand finishing the place off. We’re about $65,000 short of what we need to get our guest rooms up to standard, fix the balcony and replace some outdoor play equipment for the local kiddies. We’re ready to pull out all the stops and open this up to Australia to lend a hand,” said Ryan.

In return for contributions, Ryan pledged to name parts of his pub in the contributor’s honour, whether it be a bar stool, poker machine, guest room or naming rights to the Hotel’s chicken parmigiana.

Other crowdfunded hospitality concepts include Sydney cat caf, Catmosphere; Rupert & Ruby in Darlinghurst; and Lucky Chan’s in Perth. 

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