Paul Palmer is a born and bred Territorian.

“Our roots are deep in the Territory. There are now five generations of our Territory family.”

From the Gold rush days to Covid-19, the Palmers have shown initiative, a pioneering spirit, and Territorian resilience.

Paul Palmer’s great grandfather (on his mother’s side) Timothy O-Shea, a strapping blacksmith originally from County Kerry, came over to the Territory in 1909 from Port Douglas in North Queensland following the rush to the goldfields.

Timothy didn’t make his fortune in gold but made enough from blacksmithing for workers at the tin mine to bring his entire family – wife, mother, four brothers, two sisters and their husbands and a sister in law or two – over to Pine Creek.

“He had six daughters and when the railway bridge over Katherine River was completed in 1926 he took up land at the new site and built the Railway Hotel (later known as the Katherine Hotel),” said Paul, who is third generation Territorian. “Our roots are deep in the Territory. There are now five generations of our Territory family.”

While not every generation has been involved in the hotel industry, it is in the blood as Paul can attest.

In his younger days Paul worked in pubs (including the now demolished Darwin Hotel) after a short stint at Westpac bank which he didn’t like. He met his wife Sarah at the Top End Hotel (now called Lizards) back in 1991 and has run various hospitality businesses over the years.

“Being in the hotel business, especially in the early ‘90s, there was a magic vibe around. There were lots of tourists, the film Crocodile Dundee was out and the place was full of characters.”

Paul, who is now Director of Hibiscus Tavern Pty Ltd and President of Hospitality NT, said the Territory “does provide lots of opportunities if you’re prepared to work hard”.

“There’s also a good community spirit here with Territorians showing they are adaptable and resilient during hard times.”

Like most Territorians, the weather is also a big drawcard for Paul as well as the laidback vibe.

“A lot of different people from all sort of lives and backgrounds come up here and quickly slot into the lifestyle. It’s what makes the Territory so unique.”