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June 15, 2020

No, the Exeter is not setting up a balcony pokie parlour

Kevin Gregg, co-owner of the Exeter Hotel, puts an end to rumours swirling around the pub kicked off by scaffolding clung to its façade (and some cheeky bar staff).

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  • Words and pictures: Angela Skujins

The rotting wood on The Exeter’s balcony has caused Kevin Gregg some strife.

“Everybody’s been ringing me since we put up the scaffolding, big emails,” the publican says as he trudges upstairs.

“They like to comment: ‘What are you doing?’ ‘For f*ck sake, what are you doing?’ ‘Don’t tell me you’re renovating just because COVID-19 has come.’

“We’re just doing some repair work,” says Kevin.


Exeter Hotel
246 Rundle Street, Adelaide 5000


CityMag heard over the bar that the heritage-listed pub would get a facelift that would result in a new colour scheme, plus an upstairs pokie parlour on the repaired balcony.

It would be the perfect place for people to have a “smoke and poke,” the bartender told us.

Steadfast in our commitment to never let an outlandish rumour or deadpan joke go by without full investigation, we put the question to Kev, who laughed.

It’s fake news.

“Just a bit of repair work to the floorboards of the balcony,” he says.

“Over the year’s they’ve rotted out and they need to be pulled up and replaced, and to do that they need to put scaffolding up so it’s safe for the workers and also safe for pedestrians walking underneath.

“I’ve said tongue-in-cheek to a few people, ‘We’re putting a pokey parlour in upstairs. We’re gonna put some pokies upstairs and put a neon sign on the top.’ Definitely not doing that.”

In 2001, the South Australian government listed the Exeter Hotel as a heritage place due to its “City Significance”.

Undoubtedly, the pub holds a special place in all city-dwellers’ hearts. We doubt you’ll find a better Goon Sunrise (like a tequila sunrise but with cheap, still-perfectly-delicious wine) in any other establishment.

However, because of its historic status, state law dictates a person who intentionally “reduces” the heritage significance of a place could be liable to a maximum penalty of $120,000.

Essentially, the pub isn’t allowed to undergo any renovations that could compromise its cultural value, and changes must be approved by the appropriate governing bodies.

This is a point Kevin stresses: It’s not renovations, he says, but repairs.

“It’s got to come back looking just like it was before we started,” Kevin says.

“The iron work had to be taken off, the latticework and will be cleaned, repainted and put back.

“While it seems like a major deal, when it’s finished people will drive past and won’t even know.”

Over the past 150 years the Ex has been “patched up” but never totally restored.

Repairs for the balcony have been discussed with the property owners and the Adelaide city council for over a year, and were meant to start after Easter. However, due to COVID-19 and “hiccups” with the council, there were delays.

Kevin is unsure how much it’s all going to cost – “we’ll worry about that later,” he says – but work should be completed by early July.

He reckons it will last for another 150 years.

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