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Priscilla Queen of the Desert Hotel up for Private Sale!


Priscilla Queen of the Desert Hotel up for Private Sale!

There are plans to sell Broken Hill's iconic Palace Hotel and its famous murals, with its managing director looking for new owners who will appreciate the building and maintain its authenticity.

The far-west New South Wales hotel has changed hands and duties over the past century, but is best known for its starring role in the 1994 Australian film, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

The building began its life in 1889 as a coffee house that did not serve alcohol but ultimately could not compete with the scores of pubs doing a roaring trade in the mining city.

It became a licensed hotel in 1892, was used as a returned soldiers' hostel in 1919, and now offers accommodation, a restaurant, bar, and space for events like the Broken Heel drag festival.

A staircase in the Palace Hotel in Broken HillPHOTO: Murals of landscapes with trees and waterfalls are painted throughout the three-storey building. (ABC News: Sofie Wainwright )

Some of the hotel's most distinctive features are the vivid murals covering the interior walls, with water features and colourful landscapes creating the impression of an outback oasis.

They were painted by Indigenous artist Gordon Waye over several years, while the hotel's former owner, Mario Celotto, painted a copy of Botticelli's Venus on a ceiling.

The most recent owners, a group of seven, purchased the hotel in 2009 but one of the partners is leaving Broken Hill and the others are reconsidering their commitment.

A bed laced with sequins sits in the centre of the room with a mural of a landscape behind itPHOTO: The 'Priscilla Suite' is the room where the characters of the film Priscilla, Queen of the Desert stayed.(ABC News: Sofie Wainwright )

Hoping for good intentions from new owners

Managing director of the Palace Hotel, Esther La Rovere, said the asking price would be between $3 million and $4 million, and it would be sold privately.

She said it was a reluctant decision to sell and she hoped the new owners would have good intentions.

"We really invested a lot of time and money in making sure that we kept the building and style as authentic as we could for the lost-in-time building that it was," Ms La Rovere said.

"To then give it to someone who comes along and really wipes out that character, that's certainly not our intention.

"We don't want to sell it to some developer that's going to do major changes; you know, paint over murals or really change the style of the building."

Untapped markets await new owners

Performers Philmah Bocks, Art Simone and Jemima Handful on stage at the Broken Heel festivalPHOTO: The Broken Heel Festival is an annual attraction for Broken Hill which started in 2015. (ABC Open: Jenia Ratcliffe)

Ms La Rovere said there were plenty of untapped markets potential new owners could pursue.

"I always wanted to do more themed rooms," she said.

"I think we're seeing a growing trend in really boutique sort of destination marketing and experiences."

Ms La Rovere said the Broken Heel Festival would likely continue at the hotel, even when the venue was sold and she hoped to still be able to direct it under new owners.

"The festival being held at the Palace, I'll certainly push to make sure that continues," she said.

"I can't see any good operator in their right mind wanting to change that.

"The festival has always operated as a separate entity to the hotel anyway, so that will continue."


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