Such was their belief in the continuing growth of Mount Isa, brothers Les (LC) and Bert (BJ) Thiess took a gamble away from mining construction to build an ultra-modern hospitality complex with all the city expectations of fine dining and motel style accommodation.
Their idea was to have the bars divorced from the function rooms, lounge and reception all of which would be separate again from the accommodation block.
But back in 1964, the brothers would have been forgiven had they thought they were sitting on a roulette wheel as their high rolling bet started to wane with the Shut Out at the Mine only days after the official opening of the Barkly Hotel, in December of that year.
However they need not have worried, as from the time the front doors of the main bar were opened, the Barkly Hotel has been a favoured spot, for a quiet tipple at just the right temperature, for miners and tradies over the past 53 years.
Later when the Corroboree Lounge opened in 1965, it was local band, The Premiers (Phil Stacey, Ken Buckley, Boris Stepanov, Bill Harvey, and Percy Oeling with singing sensation Johnny Lui) who were invited to play on the first night.
And just as it is today, it is not always how you play but who you know that helps; for The Premiers, it certainly helped that Bois and Phil both worked at Thiess Bros, the company that owned and built the Barkly Hotel.
The Barkly soon became the hub of live entertainment in town and in the era before equality of the sexes, the nightly shows continued to attract a $1 cover charge for men while ladies were given free entry.
From Winifred Atwell and her honky-tonk piano version of Yes Sir, We Have No Bananas of yesteryear to the national heart-throb Johnny Farnham, the Corroboree Lounge was the place to hear the latest hit record makers and be, to be seen.
Or in keeping with the popular saying of the time Be Seen or Be Square
The popularity of the Barkly attracted considerable patronage and took the lead as the towns hub of entertainment featuring local bands such as The Jaguars, MI 5, The Graduates, The Teen Beats, Johnny Lui and the Midnighters and The Premiers.
But it was the Barklys manager in the early 70s, Ken Kendricks, who added zing to the local music scene with the importation of top class cabaret acts and pop singers to town.
They would perform nightly and at the two Sunday Sessions, and so attract the local trendsetters with their increased disposable cash.
And as the resident band, The Premiers (Boris Stepanov, Ken Buckley, Bill Harvey, Percy Oeling, Phil Stacey and Johnny Lui) regularly backed southern singing sensations including Brian Davies, Jay Justin, Little Pattie, Col Joye and later William Shakespeare (My Little Angel), Bob Hudson (The Newcastle Song), The Mojo Singers (Cmon Aussie Cmon).
But it was without doubt, Johnny OKeefe who brought the house-down and kept the bar takings up when he sang, leaving Shout until his last number when everyone would join in, stomping and clapping along with him.
The Barkly was also the social home to several sporting clubs including Townies (Rugby League) and Saints (AFL), affording the clubs the opportunity to fund-raise with regular raffles of meat and seafood trays.
OKeefes legendary largesse to worthy charities has often been overlooked as he battled his own drug demons, but on one night at the Barkly he donated his appearance fee to Cootharinga Home for Crippled Children (in Townsville), through the hotels Miss Australia Entrant.
If the Corroboree Lounge became rowdy at times, the upstairs function rooms were revered for their quiet sophistication and stylish decor as the choice of venue for weddings and balls.
Marty Leheonen recalls when Scorpio first started playing dinner music in the Pioneer Room restaurant.
Have you ever tried to play a guitar while your stomach is rumbling and people are eating in front of you?
Prawn Cocktails, Chicken-in-a-Basket, Filet Mignon, Peach Melbas our mouths watered and our stomachs rumbled and definitely not in tune with what we were aiming to do, provide the third element of music to dinner and romance.
The restaurant (or as we referred to it in the late 60s The Dining Room) proved to be yet an extra winner for the hotel with its distinctly local décor designed and created out of copper by Val Pinsker, the resident artist at the Mine.
There were so many firsts for the hotel and Mount Isa that guests could literally stay a whole weekend and not move outside of the complex
And while Les and Bert Thiess (pronounced Teece- said Les!) may have had the reputation of Building a Nation on the back of the Snowy Hydro Scheme and mining operations, they brought to Mount Isa a taste of city sophistication and entertainment.
They built their own the Diamond in the Dust along the Golden Mile - the Barkly Hotel.
Researched and written by Kim-Maree Burton www.kimmareeburton.com
Photographs courtesy of Roger Hancock and the North West Star newspaper.
Information sourced from Thiess Bros archives, MIMAG and North West Star newspaper.
Researched and written by Kim-Maree Burton
Photographs courtesy of MIMAG and North West Star newspaper.
Information sourced from MIMAG, Mt Isa Mail and North West Star newspapers.
The history column is weekly contribution in The North West Stars Saturday edition on the history of Mount Isa and the North West Queensland region by Mount Isa history writer and local Kim-Maree Burton and can also be found in the community section of The North West Star website at www.northweststar.com.au