No late-night options for Geraldton partygoers as venues forced to shut at midnight

Edward Scown, Phoebe Pin and Michael RobertsGeraldton Guardian
Geraldton nightclub Vibe has been shut since October because of staffing issues.
Camera IconGeraldton nightclub Vibe has been shut since October because of staffing issues. Credit: Michael Roberts/Geraldton Guardian

Geraldton has an array of entertainment venues that cover all tastes — unless you want to stay out past midnight, which has turned the Mid West hub into a Cinderella city of sorts.

The city’s sole nightclub has been shut since Halloween, with a Vibe spokesperson citing the “Statewide shortage of security guards” as the reason for its closure in a December Facebook post.

“We eagerly look forward to the borders opening and being able to organise more guards so that we can once again cater for your party needs,” the post read.

Other local pubs and bars are unable to serve alcohol past 12am, meaning punters wanting to continue to party are forced to take their celebrations to houses in the suburbs at the stroke of midnight.

On top of liquor license restrictions, local music promoter Daron Keogh said noise complaints from residents close to venues had also contributed to the taming of Geraldton’s nightlife.

“The Tarcoola Tavern used to rock. Four nights a week they’d have bands on, and once that pub shut you’d kick on into town,” he said.

“Now a lot of the venues have transitioned away from workers letting their hair down, to family places, and eateries.”

Mr Keogh said a return of late licences and nightclubs would be a boon to local music.

Local band Babymakers frontman Ian Weggler said the midnight closure meant bands were forced to start too early, and left less time for line-ups featuring multiple bands.

“When you’re starting at nine, people aren’t in the dancing, party mood yet,” he said.

Weggler, 22, said he would like to see a late-night venue in town as the lack of nightspots meant kick-ons were forced to “sketchy” house parties in the suburbs.

“As a dude I’m aware I’m moderately lucky that I can go to those parties and be OK, but if I was an 18-year-old girl, that can become a safety issue,” he said.

“If you’re at a nightclub late, you know you’re going to be looked after by security.

“Pretty much anywhere that stayed open (past midnight) would make money.”

But a manager at Cutler and Smith said it may not be viable option for businesses, as fewer people were hitting the town when the sun went down.

“We are always open until midnight, but lately people haven’t really been going out that much so pubs have been shutting,” she said.

“On Christmas Eve people were coming in and saying ‘you are the only pub that’s open, everywhere is shut.’

“Cutler and Smith has been getting really quiet by about 10pm at night. . . I think it is because of COVID that people aren’t going out as much.

“Unless you are double-vaxxed you can’t go to a venue with over 500 people (in the Perth and Peel regions).”

The Chapman Road pub is not licensed to serve alcohol past 12am, but the manager said it was not uncommon for patrons to linger over their drinks until the early hours of the morning pre-pandemic.

“We were flat out and we weren’t getting home until 2am in the morning by the time we had done all the clean up before COVID,” she said.

Despite late nights at the pub becoming few and far between, the manager said Geraldton did have a market for venues which opened past 12am.

“For the youngsters with no kids, they probably want somewhere to go and party,” she said.

The Geraldton Hotel was one of several venues which applied for a temporary license to open past 12am on New Year’s Eve. The pub is open until 12am on Friday and Saturdays, but a manager said staff would sometimes lock up earlier on quiet nights.

Ex-nightclub owner and current City of Greater Geraldton Mayor Shane Van Styn said the situation was disappointing, but not surprising in the modern entertainment business.

“Younger people are drinking less these days, and hooking up online. Gone are the days of meeting your next love interest at the pub or a nightclub,” he said.

“Online dating has decimated the industry.”

Vibe owner Graham Phease was unavailable for comment or to provide an update about when the nightclub will reopen.

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