The West

Kevin and Margaret Pusey outside the Grand Hotel Kookynie. Picture: Stephen Scourfield

This is Kevin Pusey's postie bike.

For Kevin does the Kookynie mail run on his Harley Davidson Electra Glide - and reckons he's doing it tough.

With humour as dry as this northern Goldfields town often is, he points out that others do mail runs in gas-guzzling, air-conditioned vehicles with at least four seats.

He's outside on his two-seater.

Come to think of it, he adds, he could do with some carbon credits, too.

When Kevin isn't doing the mail run, he'll be found at the Grand Hotel Kookynie, which he and wife Margaret own and run.

Gold was found in Kookynie, 200km north of Kalgoorlie, in 1895. The hotel opened in 1902 and by 1905 about 1500 people lived here. Now there are just 14 residents (when I ask, Margaret names and counts them all).

The Grand Hotel Kookynie's corridors are lined with framed photographs and cuttings that show the area's history and there are comfortable guest rooms, an area for caravans and a big, grassy outdoors drinks-and-barbecues garden.

But the hotel's front bar is a bit of a star. The footy's up on the big TV, a horse saddle and an animal trap hang on the walls, and there's an Aboriginal spear with a rifle's telescopic sight hanging over the bar. Chalked on the blackboard is: "Beer makes you see double and act single." There's a pie warmer in the corner and shelf upon shelf of bottles - drinks of every description. And when your eyes start picking out the detail on those jam-packed shelves, they see a clay pipe and tiny gold scales, a tyre repair kit and dog chains.

And locals know Kevin's promise - if his Lotto numbers come up, whoever's in the front bar at the time "gets the pub".

But while Margaret is serving drinks and keeping the tab in longhand in her notebook, Kevin's nowhere to be seen.

For the mailman turned publican is out in the hotel's kitchen cooking evening meals for guests - barramundi and steak among the choices, and all with fresh salads or a big medley of fresh, roasted vegetables (a mix of eight tonight).

With Kevin's culinary skills and Margaret's role as Kookynie's historian, the Grand Hotel seems a hard-work labour of love as much as a business. But, having said that, it is up for sale and Margaret says she won't mind a bit walking out when there's a buyer.

For she and Kevin have their home around the corner in Kookynie's restored shops and they'll be happy there.

Margaret has been doing quite a bit of travel around Australia recently - a dozen flights in quick succession. When she got to Melbourne recently for an overnight stop, she felt too unwell to walk to the nearby Ibis hotel, where she was to stay. It was only a short taxi ride and driver after driver didn't want to take her - but Melbourne's taxi marshal kept reporting them, until one did. The young man, who'd stood his ground in the face of the taxi drivers, said: "We are trying to promote good tourism."

Kevin likes to get away for a few days, when he can, on the Harley Davidson Electra Glide 110, but is also off to the US to ride motorcycles.

He's booked all the way from Kalgoorlie to Los Angeles with Virgin, hired a Harley and will be touring in Colorado, based in Boulder for some of the time and exploring the Rocky Mountains.

Which, come to think of it, is just another sort of male run.

Phone Kevin and Margaret Pusey at the Grand Hotel Kookynie on 9031 3010. Single rooms are $90 a night, doubles are $110 and the caravan park is $11 per person. Kookynie is 200km north of Kalgoorlie and 120km from Menzies, which is near Inside Australia, the Antony Gormley sculptures at Lake Ballard.

The West Australian

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