Newport locals and members of the Hobsons Bay community gathered to farewell another iconic venue, as the Newport RSL played its last tunes and served last drinks at a rather sudden Sunday closure.
“This once thriving RSL, was not only a second home to our Diggers, but a bustling hub of Newport with free live music, darts teams, pool comps, swing dance classes, private functions and hundreds of public functions,” a Newport RSL spokesperson said.
“Unfortunately, times have changed, and this is no longer the case. The Newport RSL has been instructed to close its doors. Thank you to everyone that has helped to keep our door open as long as we have.”
Among those who brought music, stories and memories of what the Newport RSL meant to them was Julie from Williamstown, who explained that she and a group of friends had come dressed in black because they are all grieving the loss of the Newport RSL.
“When we come down here, we have the Vietnam war memorial. I lost my cousin in Vietnam. My grandfather and uncles were in the first and second world wars. It’s a sad day when another little RSL has to close,” she said.
It is understood that both the President and Treasurer of the Newport RSL were not present for the farewell celebrations on Sunday, with club staff and members also claiming club executives are yet to brief them on the circumstances surrounding the sudden closure.
“We do not know why as we have not been formally addressed by the president or given any information. You will need to contact Anzac House or one of the executive committee for an answer,” they said.
A Victorian RSL executive has since claimed that the sub branch was in ‘financial difficulty’ and hinted potential problems with ‘staff entitlements’ being fully paid. It is understood the decision to cease trading was made on Friday.
Seven months after its doors were closed, Newport RSL has announced the election of a new committee which is understood to be working towards reopening the iconic venue. Building maintenance works appear to have already commenced at the Market Street site.
“Newport RSL is preparing to open its doors. We have a newly elected committee and we have been given the green light to move forward securing the future of this amazing little gem,” a Newport RSL spokesperson said.
“It has been a long and somewhat difficult seven months and now we need your help. Membership to Newport RSL is crucial. Membership will assist in securing its future for our Veterans and local community.”