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Brad Morgan must surely be one of the most head-hunted businessmen in Australia.

He has been offered a couple of dozen high-flying jobs during his career – and even today, as a fit 60-year-old grandfather, still has to resist the occasional temptation. 

And the reason is simple: he has a proven track record of taking businesses by the scruff of the neck and making them profitable in a short time. 

His latest venture is a partnership with fellow Territory business owners in the pub trade. 

The consortium bought the Hidden Valley Tavern and turned it into an attractive hotel named The Midway. Its performance since opening has been extraordinary and is now one of the most popular pubs in Darwin. 

And it has done the same for the pub on the corner of Smith Street Mall and Bennett Street, which is now The Reserve, a roomy, classy bar with plenty of space for functions. 

Punters clearly like what Brad has done to the place. 

One social media post says: “Nice rooftop bar.” Another says: “Cool vibe – pub-style food with some great vegetarian dishes too. Staff were friendly.” And a third: “Loved it! Very clean, modern, spacious…” 

The consortium has recently bought third pub in Adelaide with settlement in September. Brad has managed three Australian casinos, five of the largest and most successful licensed clubs in Queensland and, most recently, the Darwin Turf Club. All were left in a better financial position after his tenure was completed. 

“You have to have the will and desire to run a business,” he says. “Everything worth doing takes time and effort. 

“Actually running a business can sometimes be easy. The hard part is managing people, so you need patience and empathy. 

“Staff are the difference between a good business and a bad business.


Take hospitality. We all have bars, restaurants and gaming machines. Staff are the difference. Customer service is everything.” 

Brad is a former high-level rugby league player and has always believed in staying fit. And he applies many of the lessons learnt on the field and in the gym to business. 

He was at the helm of the Broncos Leagues Club when then coach of the Broncos Wayne Bennett imparted some of his football philosophy: “Win early, score later.” 

In other words, put in the hard work and the benefits will follow. 

Brad, one of four children, was born in Cairns. 

His father Keith was a bank manager and the family moved every couple of years to regional Queensland towns before settling in Brisbane. 

“I had a simple childhood with plenty of sport. But going to several primary schools was hard. I promised myself that I wouldn’t move like that so my kids could make lifelong friendships. It didn’t work out like that.” 

He went to Brisbane’s Mansfield High School just after it opened where he was “an OK student” but far more interested in sport than the classroom work. 

Brad played rugby league in rep teams and admits there was a time when he dreamed of making a career out of the game. 

He joined a bank after finishing his studies but after a few years found that turning up to work on a Monday “battered and bruised” with a cut eye and a hangover after post-match drinks with his mates wasn’t good for his career, so he dropped down to a lower league and enjoyed himself far more. 

His decade in banking gave him a solid understanding of finance and how to spot weaknesses in business. 

That has held him in good stead during his own business career. 

Brad was working at the bank when he was head-hunted for the first time by the RSL Logan Diggers Services Club and six years later by the Caboolture Sports Club. 

This was followed by the East Leagues Club, where he used to play rugby league. All three clubs were in trouble when he took over their management – in fact, the bankers told him that East Leagues Club was on the verge of being forced into administration. 

But Brad applied his tough business management plan and turned them around in a short period of time – and they are now in the top echelon of successful clubs in Queensland. 

He later took over running the Brisbane Broncos club where he was named Queensland Club Manager of the Year in 2006. 

Big clubs in New South Wales came after him but he accepted an unusual offer – to manage Lasseter’s casino and convention centre in Alice Springs.

His wife Chrissie was sceptical at first but a reconnaissance weekend in Central Australia convinced her that Alice was a lovely little town. 

Again, Brad oversaw a rejuvenation of the business and was soon elevated to oversee the company’s Australian, New Zealand and Asian operations. 

But after four years he was head-hunted by the Darwin casino, then owned by SkyCity.


“I had been travelling for three months a year as the group GM so the attraction of Darwin was a challenging role and staying in one place.” 

In the meantime, multimillionaire Chris Morris had bought Townsville casino. 

He needed someone to resurrect what he branded “the worst performing casino in Australia” and oversee a $50 million refurbishment. 

Morris called Brad Morgan and made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. 

Brad’s next move raised a few eyebrows – he went to manage the Brothers Leagues Club in Ipswich, not because it was a step up (it certainly wasn’t) but because the local grammar school had offered his twin boys, Lachlan and Ethan, rugby union scholarships as boarders. 

A few years later he received a call that would change his life dramatically – Darwin Turf Club chairman Brett Dixon had big ideas for the Fannie Bay racetrack and wanted a chief executive with drive and vision. 

The grandstand and Silks social club were built – and a sleepy country track was turned into a top-class venue capable of attracting national and international racegoers and owners. 

“It was transformed within a couple of years.” 

Brad is disappointed that the turf club redevelopment ended sourly but refuses to dwell on the slanders and squalid recriminations. 

All he will say is that the $12 million spent on the grandstand and Silks was “money very well spent”. 

Brad and Chrissie have five children – Angela, Ben, Olivia, Lachlan and Ethan – and five grandchildren. 

“I’m lucky – I have a magnificent wife. She has always had a family first philosophy and brought up our children at times single handedly while I pursued my career.” 

And his new job as joint owner and manager of two Darwin pubs, soon to be three? 

“It wasn’t unusual to put in 18-hour days when we opened The Midway. And since The Reserve came on line there is even less time in the working week. 

“I’ve never worked so hard in my life.”