A Real Outback Character
    On a couple of occassions Ziggy allowed me to take  passengers into his hotel - it was closed to the public, but we were privileged to be able to look around.
    Ziggy kept the front bar in the same condition as if the hotel had closed the previous evening. 

    Simon Remienko

     

     

    Simon Remienko owned the 112 year old Betoota Hotel which he managed for 44 years, before shutting up shop in 1997. "I own the place - if you own something and it makes you happy, there is no reason to leave it" the 87 year old Simon said.

    A 2002 newspaper interview reported the bar still fully stocked, though bottles were coated with fine desert dust, and not a drop had been sold for 5 years. "I'm too old now, but I still have the liquor licence, just in case".

    The hotel was a fortress - its thick sandstone walls attached to a three metre, locked wire enclosure.   If Simon was not in the mood for visitors, which was almost always, he ignored the doorbell.

    He drove to Birdsville for groceries once a month - almost a three hour trip each way. Occassionally, for a change of scenery, he drove 1400 kms to Adelaide to visit friends - four days each way.

    Simon never married, smoked or - hotel notwithstanding- drank alcohol. His fiery temper was legendary. Police were contacted after more than one encounter between outback travellers and a sometimes armed Mr Remienko.

    He was 25 when he migrated to Australia from Poland and was sent to the dusty town of Boulia, north of Betoota, where he got a job as a grader driver. He set up a contracting business, working long hours to buy the hotel in 1953.

    Ziggy died at the age of 88 at a Charleville nursing home on Monday 27th September 2004.