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Byron Shire
February 23, 2024

Eltham Hotel, noise complaints and cancelled shows

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Matt Rabbidge and Luke Sullivan, the owners of the Eltham Hotel, photographed a week ago celebrating four years of running the pub. Photo Instagram

Balancing the needs of a diverse community is always a challenge but it is one that Matt Rabbidge and Luke Sullivan, owners of the Eltham Hotel just 15 minutes from Lismore, are determined to do following noise complaints about music at the pub. 

Following complaints from some neighbours in the vicinity of the pub noise limits have been imposed. This has led to the cancellation of Caitlin Harnett and Pony Boys, and Bones and Jones who were scheduled to play. Those gigs have now relocated to the Byron Bay Bowls Club

They are currently appealing the decision and look forward to resolving the noise issues with the community while continuing to run a dynamic pub and venue. 

We are really proud of what we do here,’ Matt told The Echo. 

‘But we are aware we are making noise and we want to work on a compromise. We want to operate as a pub and hope to do some live music. We do a range of events here from  “Science in the pub” to NORPA theatre, folk and blues music – this space holds relevance as a cultural hub for all.’

In the social media post announcing the cancellation of live music this weekend they highlighted that ‘Live music everywhere, particularly in regional areas is incredibly important and must be supported’.

They also pointed out that bringing the bands to the pub supplied more employment in a range of sectors, from extra staff at the pub and local accommodation rentals, to the musicians themselves and their support staff including managers and sound engineers. 

‘We know how lucky we are to be able to run such a great venue,’ said Matt. 

The pub has a great history of music and events. While we are disappointed and we are appealing the process, we know where we are located and there is a middle ground and we want to work on a compromise. We are first to admit that we didn’t get it right in the first instance but are looking to continue working with the community.’

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  1. Compromise is key – but it is becoming a lost art.

    Good luck lads. You are doing a great job fostering a great community via one of the best country pubs around!

  2. Complainers buying houses near pubs should be able to accept noise. You don’t buy near the airport and complain about aircraft noise Or maybe some people do??!!

  3. Yeah Go Guys! As an old patron back in the day of Eltham “Scrub to Pub” raft race in 80’s it was an event not to be missed. Huge concert local bands ended the day. More Music & ‘get with it neighbors ! Graham

  4. I remember when cheap housing was made available near the old piggery in Byron, after the place had been re-established as a prime music venue hosting acts of international renown. Then the people able to afford the cheap housing knowing exactly what they were moving into, had a whinge and a local icon was shut down.

    Living near The Rails myself, I absolutely loved and appreciated the free music year-round. On dole day I’d even treat myself to a hit of bourbon watered down with brown sugar-syrup.

    It’s hard to believe that an iconic country pub could be silenced by a bunch of suburbanites who decided to move to the sticks, then realised sound travels without a bunch of high-rise buildings and ten thousand traffic movements to drown out the artistic melodies of people entertaining and being entertained.

    I can guarantee you it weren’t the people who’ve been living in the area more than their shoe-size in years who are complaining. The buzz-kills come in all shapes and sizes, but one thing’s for sure… they don’t come from around here.

  5. I am a bluegrass enthusiast and was there for your latest act – Sonoran Dogs from the US. I would love to be living next door to your venue, to have such high standard musicians at my doorstep. It brings joy and happiness to so many people. Such a shame a few have to ruin it for many.

  6. Self entitled few ( or not so few) with money and attitude who usually care very little for anyone but themselves and likely can’t see the value in a place like the Eltham pub. This happened to my favourite Blues venue steeped in history and open with music 364 days a year in London. Iconic pub set in a mixed industrial / working class residential area and all was good until the money-ed people moved in and the area was gentrified, then came the noise complaints and an irreplaceable one off longstanding venue closed forever. Every time this happens we lose a community asset and individuals lose something in their lives that feeds their soul

  7. We have always had more six at the Eltham however, these new owners have overstepped the mark when it comes to considering locals in the village. Previously we had music at a ‘sustainable’ level. Meaning we supported ‘local’ musicians not City acts who bring heaps of city newcomers to the venue which has been overloaded with people and cars all along the roadside which is very imposing on a village that takes you 7 seconds to drive through. A lot of people in the village have lived there a very long time and have never been imposed upon to this extent in the past. It was always a cruzy country pub. We have had our music night every month and it ran till midnight and never a problem.
    It is the extent these new publicans who are not locals have gone to which is the problem. They run it like a city venue when it’s not. It’s a small country pub in a small country village. It gets a bit much when it’s often overcrowded with noisy city folk , cars everywhere and loud bands . At least before it was local bands and musicians more low key and was t imposing on anyone.

    • C’mon Mariana.

      Can you remember the “Scrub to Pub” the Tennis, cycling events, regular gigs for all sorts of sport and social clubs. There was miles of people back in the day….and yeh, some not born here.

      “not City acts who bring heaps of city newcomers” is a very ordinary statement and does you no favours.

      Compromise and a healthy does of openness to non-locals (as your family once was) will help all immensely.

  8. What a load of frog shit. It’s a fantastic pub in a very country area. Bet it someone who has moved from the city & now complaining as they want solitude. We all know that a pub has live music ,good luck guys .

  9. How about you do the louder and later gigs on fridays and saturdays instead of mid week ?

    I don’t think the problem is gigs overall but is more to do with having very loud and late gigs in the middle of the week. Too many gigs on Wednesdays and Thursdays are the issue.

    I think you will find that if you keep it to the weekends then there won’t be so much complaining going on.

    I don’t mind the mid-week ones but I can understand that some others might not be a fan. Other option is for the mid-week ones have acoustic shows and the louder shows on the weekend.

    Hopefully something can work out, just needs to be better managed and think about the scheduling.


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