While the entire city is waiting eagerly to visit the new Commonwealth Hotel when it reopens its doors next year, there is likely no one quite as excited as Springfield Lakes resident Sarah Knopke.
After several years as part of the AusHotels team that established and manages Springfield’s Orion Hotel, Sarah is poised to welcome the next generation of ‘Murphy’s Pub’ locals when she takes on the role of venue manager at the Commonwealth Hotel.
“I cannot wait for the doors to open and to welcome the community back to this iconic venue,” Sarah said.
“I’ve always been passionate about the community and love living here in Ipswich. It’s a great joy for me to contribute to the places where people gather and to play my part in making Ipswich a great place to live.”
Sarah grew up in Ipswich after emigrating from the UK with her family, attending Bundamba State High School as a teenager and later settling down in Springfield Lakes where she lives with her husband of more than 30 years. Not one to ever sit back on her laurels, she has been involved in a variety of sports clubs and community groups over the years, from tuckshop convenor at her children’s primary school to committee member of the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce.
“I have had a long career in the hospitality industry in both large and small venues, spanning Ipswich favourites such as The Bodega Restaurant in the late 80s, the PA Hotel and, of course, The Orion Hotel,” Sarah said.
“AusHotels is very much a family business, with Jim and Di Davies instilling a community focus in all their venues. With a strong emphasis on great service, exceptional food and drink, and developing their staff to reach their full potential (they love to promote from within), the company values very much align with my own.”
Giving back and serving others is something that is important to Sarah. During her time at the Orion Hotel, she has run a program called Philanthropub Fridays, which donates money to a different charity every month.
“I love where I live, and I’ve always been proud to say that I am from Ipswich. It’s important to me to be an active part of the community and give back to the city that has given me so much over the years.”
Sarah follows in the footsteps of several indomitable women before her who have been at the helm of the Commonwealth Hotel over the years, including Mary Lonergan, Emma ‘Ma’ Bentham, and Margaret Calvern. All were licencees of the hotel during the early 1900s, at the heart of the city’s social scene and providing countless hours and funds in service to those in need.
“I’m thrilled to be the next in line as caretaker of this beautiful landmark and historic location in Ipswich’s history,” Sarah said.
“I hope Ipswich embraces this new beginning with open arms and comes in to say hello when we open in the new year.”
Three Questions for Sarah
Why has AusHotels chosen the precinct for their next hotel?
Aushotels were very excited to be part of the rejuvenation of the city heart. We all saw great potential for the Commonwealth Hotel to be the meeting place for Ipswich locals once again, as well as welcoming visitors from near and far.
What does having a new precinct mean for the Commonwealth Hotel?
The precinct gives the Hotel a fresh start. Along with all the other new business being attracted to the area, the precinct is going to breathe life back into this part of town. We can’t wait for the Commonwealth Hotel to be part of it.
What’s the future looking like for the Commonwealth Hotel in the precinct?
The future is bright for the Commonwealth Hotel. As Ipswich continues to grow, it’s only a matter of time before the rest of South East Queensland discovers the amazing things on offer here, both in the precinct and throughout the city. The hotel has a long history and we hope it has just as long a future ahead of it.