Expressions of love, the occasional insult and hundreds of names and dates declaring ‘I was here’ are just some of the messages scratched into the wooden bar counter and posts at Panna Tav ‘The Local’, the only tavern in the Pilbara’s Ashburton Shire.

If this bar could talk: local history carved into Pilbara tavern

Australia, December 2023

Expressions of love, the occasional insult and hundreds of names and dates declaring ‘I was here’ are just some of the messages scratched into the wooden bar counter and posts at Panna Tav ‘The Local’, the only tavern in the Pilbara’s Ashburton Shire.

A three-hour drive southeast from Karratha, the Pannawonica Tavern and Bistro, colloquially known as Panna Tav, has been the town’s beating heart for more than 50 years with formals, graduations, weddings, birthdays, memorials and more passing through its doors.

The legacy of the town and its people have literally been carved into the bar and posts by hundreds of hands since the tavern first opened in the 1970s.   

Preserving this piece of Pannawonica heritage was a key caveat for Panna Tav’s recent $300,000 refurbishment, delivered to residents by Sodexo Australia (Sodexo).

While the building’s history has been retained, it has received a 21st-century update, with a revamped menu and innovative digital entertainment offerings set to be delivered in the new year.

Pannawonica resident and Sodexo Village Manager Bradley Wallis, said: “Nowhere else in Australia operates like us—we’re not just delivering a service to an entire town, but to a community that we are heavily embedded in.

“Panna Tav is our love letter to Pannawonica. It stands for community, inclusion, and the stories which live in the bones of the building.”  

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Pannawonica is an entirely self-contained town owned by Rio Tinto, home to approximately 700 people.

Sodexo oversees all essential services in Pannawonica, from waste management to property and accommodation services; the company also manages the local post office, petrol station, supermarket, and other hospitality offerings.

The Panna Tav’s refurbishment is a sizable investment from the leading facilities management business to enhance the quality of services and life for residents.

The first upgrades on the tavern and bistro completed in over 10 years include fresh paint, new signage, beer taps, and wall graphics, all designed to retain Panna Tav’s unique character while giving it a much-needed facelift.

Sodexo Australia Managing Director, Keith Weston, said: “Transforming a remote town into a place Fly-In, Fly-Out workers can call home while keeping its history and community spirit to locals requires getting the little things right.

Sodexo preserving this small piece of Pannawonica history is an important part of building a healthy community.

The Panna Tav’s refurbishment follows our introduction of the first “We Proudly Serve Starbucks®” coffee offering in remote Western Australia earlier this year. Our investment in Pannawonica and the community is founded in our belief of bringing people together through quality service, no matter where they live or work.”

The Panna Tav just joined Sodexo's "Proud to Support Local" program. This platform is all about showcasing locally produced and new-to-market products in remote locations and towns across the country. With this mentality, Sodexo’s upgrades to the tavern include beer taps serving up ice cold locally produced WA beers, including the ‘hero brew’ of the month being the larger from North West Brewery in Karratha.

Rio Tinto Iron Ore General Manager, Facilities, Toby Ellis said: “We put people at the heart of everything we do and continue to look at how we can enhance experiences for our employees."

“We are extremely excited to open the refurbished Panna Tav, not only for our own people but for the broader Pannawonica community.”

To celebrate the reopening of this piece of history, Sodexo is hosting a series of community events at the Panna Tav on 19 December.

With retail prize giveaways, family entertainment, live music, and much more, this date represents a new chapter of the Panna Tav, heralding in the next generation to leave their mark.

About Sodexo Australia

Sodexo in Australia employs a diverse workforce of over 5,000 employees. Sodexo delivers a unique array of over 100 integrated services lines, including cleaning, catering, facilities management, aerodrome services, concierge, security, asset and building maintenance and hospitality services in the following segments: Corporate Strategic Accounts and Energy & Resources, both on and offshore.    

About Sodexo

Founded in Marseille in 1966 by Pierre Bellon, Sodexo is the global leader in sustainable food and valued experiences at every moment in life: learn, work, heal and play. 

Operating in 53 countries, our 422,000 employees serve 100 million consumers each day. The Sodexo Group stands out for its independence and its founding family shareholding, its responsible business model and its portfolio of activities including Food Services, Facilities Management Services and Employee Benefit Solutions. This diversified offer meets all the challenges of everyday life with a dual goal: to improve the quality of life of our employees and those we serve, and contribute to the economic, social and environmental progress in the communities where we operate. For Sodexo, growth and social commitment go hand in hand. Our purpose is to create a better everyday for everyone to build a better life for all.

Sodexo is included in the CAC Next 20, CAC 40 ESG, CAC SBT 1.5, FTSE 4 Good and DJSI indices.

Key Figures 

  • 21.1 billion euros in Fiscal 2022 consolidated revenues
  • 422,000 employees as at August 31, 2022
  • #2 France-based private employer worldwide 
  • 53 countries
  • 100 million consumers served daily
  • 15 billion euros in market capitalisation (as at June 29, 2023) 



Elevate Communication        
Madeline Jones

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