IN the early days pets of various kinds were kept at hotels to attract custom, and, frequently, they proved far more effective for this purpose than all the modern electric signs.
The fame of some of these pets spread throughout the length and breadth of Australia, and people travelled long distances to see and hear them. One of these was a common blackcrow owned by Alec Mudie at Bemboka, and later at Nimmitabel (NSW).
This bird was known all over the State, and even in other States. He was a fine talker and could speak in three different voices — that of a man, a woman, or a child. The bird loved to get to the glasses that were left on the counter and drain them of their contents. He would walk a chalk line for the amusement of patrons and perform all sorts of tricks.
Large sums of money were offered for this bird, but the owner refused to part with him. When Alec Musie died the bird fretted and refused to talk again.
ANOTHER famous pet was a sheep at a Newcastle hotel. This sheep paid regular visits to the bar and, placing his forefeet on the counter, would refuse to move until he was given a drink.
The barman kept the tailings for him. One day he imbibed too freely,fell off one of the wharves into the harbour, and was drowned.
At a little township called Rocky Hall, at the foot of Big Jack Mountain, South Coast (NSW), there was a fine green parrot which could speak as clearly as any human-being. He not only mimicked all and sundry, but could answer a number of questions. Like many other hotel birds this one had an extensive vocabulary of words that would not bear print.
When a car or coach stopped at the door the bird invited all to come and have one.
IN Central Queensland a hotelkeeper kept a couple of big green frogs under the counter.
These frogs were the means of inducing numbers of men to drink to the breaking of the drought.
After long dry spells, which were frequent in that part of the country, the hotelkeeper would remark that it felt like rain in the air, and when the bar was fairly full he would throw a glass of water on the frogs under the counter. They would immediately commence to croak.
“That’s a sure sign of rain,” several would assert, and all would drink to the breaking of the drought.
The day of the hotel pet seems to have passed, and in this modern age men seem to prefer listening in to race results or sporting gossip. Perhaps it is just as well for our birds and animals. — ‘St. John.’
– Sydney Mail December 28 1938.
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