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Telling the tale of a name

"I went home and told my family and friends about those stories and they said 'that's great, you should put them in a book'"

Chris Healion points to the Railway Hotel entry for Baan Baa in author Scott Whitaker’s NSW volume of Railway Hotels of Australia at the Narrabri Library on Tuesday night. Mr Healion’s grandfather Richard built the original Healion’s Railway Hotel in Baan Baa in the early 1920s. He sold it to Ralph Chappel about 1950.

Why would anyone want to write a book (actually three volumes so far) about every pub in Australia named the Railway Hotel?

For Scott Whitaker it was simple, and he shared that story with a local audience at Narrabri Library recently.

Mr Whitaker has written three versions of Railway Hotels of Australia, covering 569 hotels in NSW, Victoria and Queensland, including 191 in this state.

The volumes tell the story of each of the hotels that have borne the name.

Mr Whitaker estimated there had been more than 700 such hotels in Australia, with about 120 left.

The grandson of an engine driver, he put his own love of railways on hold during a 30-year stint as an air traffic controller in Victoria.

After leaving that career at a young age due to health issues he decided to indulge his passion.

Mr Whitaker decided he'd go and have a beer in every Railway Hotel in the country - "I thought there's probably only 20 of them".

Once he drew up his list he was not deterred. He went to every pub he could and started to talking to the publicans and regulars there, coming away with lots of interesting stories.

"I went home and told my family and friends about those stories and they said 'that's great, you should put them in a book'," he said.