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Lyndon Waples ahead of the launch party. Picture: Michael O'Brien/The West Australian

Gone are the smells of oil, ink and smoke that made Newspaper House such a memorable place.

Also gone is the deep rumble of presses printing the papers that told West Australians of the start of World War II, Neil Armstrong landing on the Moon, Gough Whitlam's dismissal and Alan Bond winning the America's Cup.

The ubiquitous black dust has been replaced by the smell of roasting coffee and freshly baked bread and the clinking of glasses.

The old home of The West Australian reopens as a major entertainment venue this month and last night hosted a launch party for 600 guests including politicians, business identities and The West staff, past and present.

Almost 23 years after large parts of the Newspaper House complex were demolished, the stylish central office area now has a new life as part of a refurbishment which cost an estimated $22 million.

The main feature is the central area visited by tens of thousands of West Australians lodging classified advertisements, paying bills and tipping and ticking off reporters.

The chief of the new Print Hall, Lyndon Waples, hopes the venue will help revive the city centre as a place for living and entertainment.

West columnist and 6PR morning show host Paul Murray regaled guests with stories from the days of hot metal newspaper production.

Premier Colin Barnett declared the four-level venue open with a speech recalling the boom-and-bust history of the Terrace.

The rooftop Bob's Bar is named after former prime minister Bob Hawke and features the old sign from The West Australian. The bar displays Mr Hawke's America's Cup celebration quote that "any boss who sacks anyone for not turning up today is a bum".

Mr Bond, the hero of the America's Cup victory, was among the guests, as were socialites Troy and Sophia Barbagallo, West Australian Newspapers editor-in-chief Bob Cronin and Chris Morris, who runs the company behind the Print Hall, Colonial Leisure Group.

Newspaper House was a series of buildings between St Georges Terrace and Mounts Bay Road, connected by stairs, slow lifts, alleys and external walkways.

The back of the complex - where journalists pumped out the words and pictures and printers turned them into newspapers - is now home to part of the City Square office tower. Part of the site is vacant.

The front of Newspaper House, with its distinctive St Georges Terrace facade, has been restored by developers Brookfield Multiplex and this leads to the new dining and entertainment complex.

The main counter is a central feature of the Print Hall bar and restaurant, where many original fittings have been retained along with the high lantern ceiling.

The West Australian

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