THE revamp, redevelopment and reopening on Monday of the Victoria Hotel (now known as the Victoria) continues a period of renewal in lower Keppel Street.
It began, of course, with the introduction of the Bathurst Bullet daily return train service to Sydney in 2012, but even the most enthusiastic of those who lobbied for that service must scarcely be able to believe how the railway precinct has changed since.
Over the ensuing years, we have seen an extension – which opened in 2017 - to the railway station car park and earthworks begin on the site of council’s planned Railway Museum, where a scale model of the line between Lithgow and Bathurst will be a centrepiece.
And then, of course, there was Stephen Birrell and Glenda Deans’ decision to buy the sprawling Tremain’s Mill in 2015 and begin a multi-million dollar overhaul of the historic site, which will eventually include a milling museum, luxury apartments, a public plaza and function centre.
Mr Birrell and Ms Deans increased their landholdings – and their ambitions for this part of town - when they bought the Victoria Hotel last year with plans to give it a makeover to complement their vision for the mill site.
“It’s another chapter in the redevelopment of this end of Keppel Street,” Mr Birrell said at the time.
The hotel’s makeover, he said, would make “this end of the street really pop”.
The aim of the Bathurst Bullet was to provide a practical, affordable option for those who needed or wanted to spend a day in Sydney, but this service has ended up providing so much more.
In bringing new passengers to lower Keppel Street – recent figures showed an average of more than 1500 people board the Bullet at the Bathurst station each month - it has brought new life to this historic part of town, and created a sense of momentum that shows no sign of waning.
Mr Birrell and Ms Deans obviously have great faith in the future of lower Keppel Street, as does council, and investment on that sort of scale does tend to encourage further investment.
Lower Keppel Street seems to be on the up and up – and that’s a prediction that would have drawn more than one raised eyebrow back before the Bullet came to town.
We’ll be watching with interest to see what happens next.