PA Hotel – Celebrating 175 years


The Prince Alfred Hotel, one of the oldest hotels in Queensland, was built in 1842 by Mr D Bergin. The two-storey timber hotel was surrounded by 40 acres of cotton fields. The original cold room still stands today. Up for sale in 1866, the Booval Hotel was a hardwood timber building with seven rooms and a detached kitchen, a piggery and garden, store-room, dairy, five stables, stockyard and milking bail.

The hotel that currently stands at 170 Brisbane Road, Booval has withstood many hardships, and yet has survived to be bigger and better than ever.

Few hotels in Queensland, let alone Australia have received as many accolades or achieved as many milestones as the Prince Alfred Hotel, now known as the PA Hotel.

The hotel now comprises Char’d Steakhouse, Plantations Restaurant, Tap’d, Harry Brown plus a function room and gaming room. It’s now a far cry from the previous two-storey timber hotel. Had this building not been ravaged by fire in 1961, the PA Hotel that Ipswich knows and loves today may have developed into a very style of building.

Oddly enough, the fire proved inspiration for the modern day PA Hotel and Char’d Steakhouse name. When the hotel was destroyed, it continued to serve cold beer out of the cold room which was the only part of the hotel that was saved. Locals called it The Charcoal Inn, hence the name Char’d.

Over the past 175 years, the PA Hotel has changed ownership numerous times but something that remained continuous was its license, making it the longest standing hotel in Queensland (despite the fact that when it was established, Ipswich was a part of New South Wales).

Much of the hotel’s success is attributed to current owners Clive and Mary-Ann Johnson.

The Johnson’s revolutionary influence has been felt not only within the PA Hotel but within the entire Ipswich community.

Whilst this 175-year milestone is especially significant, 2017 also marks 30 years of ownership for the Johnson family.

Purchasing the hotel in 1987, the former cattle farmers from Rockhampton decided the Prince Alfred Hotel was a great opportunity to build a business in a progressive city.

“We really liked the area, we saw potential and good honest working people,” Clive said.

From their first award in 1991 as Best Family Hotel, for the former Swags Family Restaurant, the Johnson’s innovative thinking has allowed them to hold the title for several impressive achievements, such as having the first coffee shop to open in a hotel in Queensland, within Plantations Restaurant, and having the most beer taps in one single bar in the Southern Hemisphere.

The Johnson’s visionary approach to the PA Hotel has silenced many a critic who doubted their ideas and forward thinking. This is reflected in their most recent title of Best Hotel in 2016, awarded by the QHA.

General Manager Peter Coultas said Clive and Mary-Anne were never afraid to look at other successful hotels and draw inspiration from them.

“They’ve not been afraid to look interstate or even internationally to get inspired,” Mr Coultas said. “They have also been ahead of the industry. “A prime example of this is Tap’d, inspired by a bar in San Diego.”

It was important to Clive and Mary-Anne to establish a place where people were as comfortable as they were in their own home.

“The whole place feels like one big family, and it’s like our customers are guests in our own home,” Mary-Anne said.

This family ethic is also reflected within the PA Hotel staff, with some being employed by the Johnson’s for more than 20 years, and whom now have children working for the PA Hotel as well.

Clive and Mary-Anne said they would like to thank the Ipswich community for their patronage and support not only for the past 30 years, but for the past 175 years as well.

“The people of Ipswich.. they’ve really embraced us,” Mary-Anne said. “We’re also proud to partner with local businesses in such a solid, wonderful town.”

Support for the Community

The PA Hotel has been an integral part of the community not only in winning awards but for the support they provide to local organisations, teams and causes.

Over the past 30 years, Clive and Maryanne have sponsored several sporting teams, local school and church fetes, raised funds for a number of non-profit organisations and are proud supporters of the Ipswich Show Society.

In particular, their contributions and fundraising efforts for the Leukemia Foundation are highly commended. They are also proud to work with local businesses, with recent renovations and refurbishments, but in everyday business dealings with suppliers.

Judging by the congratulations and good wishes that the PA Hotel owners, managers and staff have received, the hotel continues to be a firm favourite with the whole Ipswich community. Clive and Mary-Anne are so appreciative of these blessings.