Hunt on for ex-staff of Lady Bay Hotel

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The black tie bouncers at Warrnambool’s former Lady Bay hotel in the early 1990s. Nicole Lane (the only woman pictured!) is organising a staff reunion. Image courtesy of Nicole Lane.


[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #ABCCAB;”] I [/dropcap]f you ever lived in Warrnambool at any time up until around 2001, then these three words will mean something to you: Lady Bay Hotel.

The former Lady Bay Hotel, as opposed to the multi-storey resort that now stands in its place at the end of Pertobe Road, was one of the city’s most famous – and infamous – watering holes until it was demolished in 2001.

Moves are afoot to bring former workers at the Lady Bay Hotel back together for a reunion, including bar staff, kitchen staff, cleaners, managers and the unforgettable bouncers who at one point dressed in black tie.

The hotel was originally called the Bay View Hotel from 1890 until 1954, when it was refurbished, enlarged and renamed the Lady Bay Hotel, but quickly became known simply as “The Bay”.

While the original hotel no doubt had its share of wild times, the arrival of rock and roll in the 1960s and 70s saw The Bay transformed into a place for serious partying to some of Australia’s best bands: Cold Chisel, Midnight Oil, The Angels, Paul Kelly and the Coloured Girls, Icehouse, Australian Crawl, Hoodoo Gurus…and many more.


lady bay smaller
The Bay, as it used to be known, became one of Warrnambool’s most infamous watering holes.


[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #ABCCAB;”] A [/dropcap]n attached disco was also one of the most popular in town, where people would flock in the 1980s to drink fluffy ducks and tequila sunrises and dance to the Bee Gees until the small hours.

No wonder the staff who kept all of this unbridled energy, sexual tension and youthful exuberance under control shared a special bond.

One of the Bay’s few female bouncers, Nicole Lane, of Warrnambool, is the driving force behind the idea of a reunion and said she was inspired to try and pull together and event after one of the hotel’s most well-loved bouncers, Bob Kelly, passed away recently.

“When Bob passed away it made me think about how we are all getting older and how it would be great to try and get some of the old crew together to talk about old times,” Nicole said.

Nicole was 22 when she started “bouncing” at the hotel. She was given a chance to try her skills after the partner of another famous Lady Bay bouncer, Big Mal, left the job and the bouncing staff needed another woman.

“I ended up working as a bouncer at lots of places, but everyone has a memory of the Lady Bay,” Nicole said.

“Years later I was bouncing in a bar in Killarney, Ireland, and this woman points and me and says, ‘Oh no! It’s the bouncer from the Lady Bay!”‘ she laughed.

lady bay group
A group shot in the maritime themed room at the Lady Bay hotel with former managers Jim and Denise Ryan. Image courtesy of Nicole Lane.

[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #ABCCAB;”] A [/dropcap]  “Back to the Bay” celebration was held shortly before the original Lady Bay Hotel was pulled down, but that was mainly for former patrons. This reunion is specifically aimed at former staff.

“It is really in its first stages and I am not sure how much interest we will get,” Nicole said.

“We could end up with only a few and catch up over a cup of tea,” she laughed.

Some how, that seems unlikely.

lady bay aerial shot
Looking back at the Lady Bay Hotel from Pickering Point. The FJ silver ball can be seen on the skyline. Image courtesy of Nicole Lane.

[box] If you would like to know more about the Lady Bay Hotel staff reunion, contact Nicole at or join the Facebook group.[/box]

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27 thoughts on “Hunt on for ex-staff of Lady Bay Hotel”

  1. My father Les (duckie) Price drank there with mates, I remember they all use to meet in the Tea Trees on the forshore on Sunday mornings because the pub wasnt open and he also did some carpentry work there over the years

  2. I used to work in the Bistro and worked the beer bar at the end of the Bistro. Also worked in other bars in the Bay, in the mid 80’s. Those were certainly the days. Great times and memories.

  3. I was one of the black tie crew in the early to mid nineties. So many good friends and great memories.

  4. Sadly Pat (Friar) Fisher long time stalwart of the Lady Bay and his partner Betty McLaren have both passed away.

    1. haha, and many of them stay on tour Stace:). Would be awesome to catch up with everyone.

  5. Hi Nicole I’d love to be part if this. I didn’t work there but my Dad did Bob Kelly and I think he would have loved to be part of this. It’s blown me away reading that his passing has prompted you to organize this. Life is so short. I really hope you get some interest.

    1. Oh Emma, Bob Kelly and Bob Parsons taught me everything I know! It’s just a pity we didn’t do this earlier xo

  6. I was the chef at the bay back in the mid 80’s when Ron Anderson ( Basil Fawlty) was the man at the helm Wow wild times !!!!

  7. Sounds like a great idea to get together and I am looking forward to it .Don’t know about the cup of tea think we better have some beers .

  8. Everyone loved ‘the bay’ – I was a small part of a group called ‘full-house promotions’ that used to bring bands to the bay in the late 70’s – many of which have been mentioned above. The most memorable night was when the Angels played at the bay and Jo Jo Zepp & the Falcons at the Tatts – head to head! The Angels out did the others!! Someone stole my bag with all the takings – total freak out and the night in ruins – until a good GOOD samaritan returned it at 2am with all the money still in it – can still remember those two – one of the worst and one of the best. From memory the others in FHP were Neil Adams, Tony Peel, Terry White & Mick Tate (maybe others) I’m sure a reunion would be a great success – good luck.

  9. Oh so many memories…I worked in the bistro/bar and infamous ‘cupboard’ bar in the 90’s and met my husband, Dean who was the dj in the Bayview lounge, there nearly 20 years ago! Jim and Denise were great to work for, I owe my front of house ‘apprenticeship’ to them and the tough crowd of old skool regulars in the bar taught me how to pour a perfect beer and have a sense of humor. We got to see some great Aussie iconic touring bands and we really did work with some fabulous people. Looking forward to the reunion! I’m sure Dean would be happy to pull out the old vinyl if required 😀

  10. In the days of publicans Cork Walsh/Dacus Mcleod/Ray Stella/Ron Anderson. a few of the other names I woked with are David Graham (Seal)(bouncer), Ray Dalton (bouncer) , Phil Hicks (bouncer), Dick Donahue (barman)(deceased), Chook Fowler (cleaner?part time barman), John Harris(barman) Jenifer Tippett (barlass), Don Rae (deceased), Mary lou, Sussie _______, And there of course many more that over time I cannot remember right now.

    1. Yeah good memories Malcolm. I worked there behind the jump and glassy in the summer of 82 / 83.. Ray Stellar was the owner and still can’t get Come on Eileen out of my head !! That used to get a severe work out on that poor old jukebox in the corner !!

  11. Hi all, what a great idea, some of these stories should only be told among staff.. Haha
    I worked in the bar in the 80’s greatest times had by all!

  12. What a great idea ! My uncle David “Seal” Graham & god parents Ray Dalton & Phil Hicks where bouncers in the old bay days. I have heard some incredible stories from those 3 men. Seals health hasn’t been great of late but he would love nothing move then to get amongst old friends for a catch up & a beer.

  13. I worked there between 1977 – 1985 .
    Well done Malcolm a few more spring to mind, Zita Hagan, Naughty Shorty (Susie Lardner), The Kenneally Twins, Maxine O’Donnell. What great nights we had especially Sunday Nights in the Cupboard Bar with Mod Squad, Ghostriders and Neveda. Running around the cellars (apparently the longest in Vic). And who could forget New Year Eve’s when we all get dressed up

  14. Im afraid the pokies killed it!. Warrnambool is no longer the music hub that it once was.

  15. I have been overwhelmed with the interest in a reunion. I’m so very excited and thank you all so much. I guess it has grown from a catch up over a cuppa!! I will let everyone know the plans as soon as possible. I am hoping to give as many people as possible the chance to join us. Stay tuned!
    This will be an invitation event. It would be great if everyone could send me their name, contact details, what they did and when they were at the ‘Bay.
    My number is 0439622776. Email
    Thank you, Nicole Lane. no 26!

  16. another lifetime the Bay hosted many Aus bands and gave local musos the chance to showcase their stuff supporting major charting acts,the Bay ROCKED!

  17. I worked in the bar in 1971 .. the year the grand annual was washed out … Ron Richards was bar manager …. with Dick Donahue Bluey Green Ian Campbell Ray McArdle Peter O’Conner … Pat Fisher and his father delivered the barrels … would love to have a catch up … cheers Russell

  18. I visited the Lady Bay in the 60’s. I was a Coburg boy and I stayed with John Lay and Max Bowman. John was a resident of Warrnambool and Max was a mate from Coburg. Both were Teachers at Warrnambool .

    Others who also came from Coburg were Robert Creighton, Brian Lord, Max McIntosh and Trevor Namscawen.
    We stayed in a tent in John Lay’s back yard. Many great times were had by all.

    I would like to hear from John.

    Thank you,


  19. Fond memories of an escort and overnight stay at Gillies st following a Great day at the lady bay…character building..

  20. Wow found this by accident, sitting at work had a few mins to spare so googled the bay. Some of the fondest memoroes of my working life life. We worked togeather Nic many many times, although I was bar we had allot of laughs. The pictures and allot of the names mentioned bring back allot of memories.

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