Noise Restrictions Threaten Live Music at Historic Country Pub

Published November 29, 2023

In the idyllic rural backdrop of Byron's hinterland, a beloved century-old country pub known for its vibrant live music scene is under threat from newly imposed noise restrictions. The Eltham Hotel, which prides itself on being a 'magical' venue and has recently replaced poker machines with live performances, vows to challenge the new limits set after a neighbor complained about the loud music interfering with their TV watching experience.

Liquor and Gaming NSW Intervenes

The controversy began after Liquor and Gaming NSW received complaints, leading to an investigation and the subsequent noise restrictions. An acoustic report commissioned by the complainant supported the claim that music from the hotel was disruptive. As a result, the Eltham Hotel is now required to keep its noise to just five decibels above the ambient level, a directive that owner Matt Rabbidge argues is nearly impossible to comply with considering the quiet surroundings of the area.

The Struggle Between Business and Residence

Rabbidge, who co-owns the hotel, pointed out that their live music schedule usually features only one amplified act a week and acoustic musicians on Sundays. However, one resident's complaint, backed by two others, remarked on an inability to enjoy their living space due to the volume of the music during these times. Rabbidge expressed disappointment at having to cancel shows, including drawing back on bands with drum kits that could be considered too loud.

Community Reactions and Legislative Hopes

The noise issue has divided the community with some in support of the pub's live music tradition and others sympathizing with the disturbance caused to nearby residents. The hotel has tried to mitigate concerns by imposing curfews on the music performances and seeking solutions with their neighbors. Still, not all are satisfied. The situation has caught the attention of local lawmakers, with Labor member for Lismore Janelle Saffin mentioning new legislation that would protect live music venues from shutdowns due to a handful of complaints if it passes.

Awaiting a Resolution

The Eltham Hotel had to cancel its upcoming gigs under the new restrictions, but Rabbidge and the community remain hopeful for a resolution that will allow them to continue their tradition of hosting live music. The forthcoming government bill seeks to create a more balanced approach, considering the longevity of venues like the Eltham Hotel against the complaints of those who moved into the area more recently.

pub, music, restrictions