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Peter “Payney” Payne began his career in law in 1970, working as an articled clerk for Dubbo firm Peacocke Dickens and King. Following the sudden death of his policeman father, he returned to Cobar to help his mother run the family business and local pub for the next 30-plus years. His role as long-time publican of the New Occidental Hotel, which was built in 1879 and destroyed by fire in 2014, has endeared him to the regional community and made him a local legend.

Payney, who has a penchant for using the term “bloody”, returned to law when he was in his 60s and recently set up a sole practice in Cobar.

How has your history with Cobar as the town publican helped you build rapport with the local community?

Most of my clients are those have known from my pub days. Cobar is a mining town and, with the shift workers, it’s a dead-set man’s town, a drinker’s town. The Occidental was a boozer. I had the best pub in Cobar by a country mile and any of my old customers would tell you that my old pub was a great old pub. I endeavoured to look after every person who walked into my establishment. To have a good hotel you’ve got to have regular clients, and your regulars are what make you. It has only been a few months since I was working as the Legal Aid solicitor in Cobar as part of the old scheme, but I would always say, “This is no different to my pub days because I still have my regular clients”. I try and look after people. It costs me time, it costs me money, but that’s the way I am. And that’s why I had a successful pub for so many years.

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