Tooborac Hotel masks up

Tooborac Hotel and Brewery owner James Carlin, left, with daughter Elizabeth, right, and mask creator Shane Osterfield outside the 162-year-old pub.

By Jackson Russell

The 163-year-old Tooborac Hotel and Brewery is keeping safe through lockdown by putting its own mask on and encouraging passing drivers to do the same.

The pub, affectionately known as ‘the old girl’, has had a black tarpaulin mask placed over its main entrance with the message of ‘stay safe’ clearly visible to passing cars and trucks on the Northern Highway.

The pub, located on the northern edge of Mitchell Shire, was just kilometres from avoiding the lockdown of metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire.

While still offering takeaway meals and pies, owner James Carlin was disappointed to have to close the pub’s doors again.

He said the mask was a timely reminder for the passing traffic on the Northern Highway.

“We thought people should start putting masks on things to remind people to do the right thing and stay safe,” he said.

“That’s what the mask means, just stay safe and look after each other. Ultimately, we want all our customers to come back healthy.

“Do the right thing so we can all get back together soon, we can’t wait for our customers to come back through our door as soon as possible.”

Mr Carlin said it was also an important time to remember to keep in touch with the older generation.

“They’re more isolated than most of us because they’re the most at risk,” he said.

“Pick up the phone and take the time to call an older relative or friend or even someone you don’t know that well like a neighbour that’s on a property by themselves.”

The mask was created by staff member Shane Osterfield, who has been on JobKeeper and decided to make good use of his time.

“The sense of community in our team is second to none,” Mr Carlin said.

“We love them all and we want to have a job for them all after this. Once we all get through the other side, we’ll all be back together, customers and staff.

“The old girl can’t wait to have visitors.”