News, Roadhouses

Family-owned roadhouse on Barrier Highway a big hit with truckies

A family-owned roadhouse in the tiny town of Olary, SA is getting rave reviews from truckies – with one driver telling Big Rigs that they served him one of the best breakfasts he’s ever had for just $20.  

The Olary Hotel on the Barrier Highway has been open under the new ownership of husband and wife team Amber and Aaron Crowley for just 26 days.  

The previous owners, another married couple, ran the business for three years before retiring in September – and the Crowleys decided to snap it up.

Although they are still finding their feet, Amber said they are really enjoying their new venture so far. 

“I’m a former truckie – I got my road train licence when I was 20 – but I have always loved to cook,” she said.  

“My husband and I had spent some time in the Olary area and we knew the pub was up for sale – so we just decided to buy it.  

“Knowing the limited resources and lack of good food out here, I thought I’d make it my mission to make sure everyone can get a quality meal.”  

The Olary Hotel is in a handy location for trucks travelling on the Barrier Highway. Image: Olary Hotel

Amber, who is originally from Whyalla in SA, said she and her family “doubled the population” of Olary when they moved in.  

When we got to Olary there were three other people living here, so now there’s seven including me, my husband and two kids,” she laughed.  

“Everyone says it’s very remote but Broken Hill is just over an hour down the road, there are definitely more remote places than here! 

“As a former truckie I’m used to remote places anyway, so it doesn’t bother me.”  

Although Olary has just a handful of residents, Amber said there’s been no shortage of business so far.  

“We have truckies that come through, staggered throughout the day,” she said.  

“And our local area is full of stations, it’s pastoral country. On Australia Day we had 60 or 70 locals who came in.  

“So we’re lucky that we’re supporting our community as well as the drivers.” 

Amber and her family more than doubled the population of Olary when they moved in! Image: Olary Hotel

The Olary Hotel is open from 10am to “bedtime”, which is officially 9pm – but if drivers are running late, Amber is happy to stay open to make sure they’re fed.  

“You hear about so many places, truckies get there at 6pm and there’s no-one in the kitchen. The best they can get is a frozen chicken roll. 

“If people call us and say they are on their way but can’t get here until 9.30pm, I’ll wait for them.  

“Even if I haven’t got the grill on, I’ll put it on.” 

Truckie Keven Mitchell said his breakfast at the Olary Hotel was one of the best he’s ever had.


If drivers are in a rush, she is happy to package up their food as a takeaway and have it ready when they arrive.  

“I’m looking at getting a UHF in the next month, so if they are in a rush they can let me know on the radio too,” she added.  

 She describes the fare as traditional pub meals made with care. 

“I wouldn’t put anything on a plate that I wouldn’t eat myself,” she said. 

“I always feel like an old lady running around telling everyone to eat up!” 

The hotel also offers ample westbound and eastbound parking, with space for B doubles and triples.  

As the business develops, Amber wants to add an extra toilet and shower for truckies in a structure in the beer garden. 

However, they are not offering accommodation at the moment, as Amber and her family are living on site.

Despite a challenging environment for roadhouses – with famous establishments like the Little Topar Roadhouse recently closing down – she’s feeling hopeful about the future.  

“There’s always going to be some nerves when you’re opening a new business,” she said.  

“You just have to have a go and see what happens!

“The word is getting out a little bit on Facebook, so hopefully people will call in.”

1 Comment

  1. Good on them, great to hear regional areas servicing truck drivers needs, next time I’m up a friend’s farm near Peterborough, we will come for a spin out there for lunch. One of the main reasons I gave trucks up was the lack of food options on the road so when I travel now in the 4wd, I support these guys providing an excellent well needed service to our transport industry.

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