Australia’s longest bars

longest bar cartoon 1939
The longest bar in Australia calls for staying power and roller-skates. Cartoon: Smith’s Weekly February 4 1939.
Australia Hotel, Sydney, 1949. Picture: Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University.
An artists impression of Australia Hotel’s famous long bar. Picture: Sunday Herald, March 13, 1949

By MICK ROBERTS ©

THERE are a number of claims to the title of Australia’s “longest bar”.

Sydney’s famous Australia Hotel was said to have had the longest bar not only in Australia, but in the world during the 1930s. This claim was disputed by the Chinese, who claimed the Shanghai Club’s bar was longer. The bar in Shanghai was reputed to be ‘so long that you could see the curve of the earth along it’.

The long bar in the Australia Hotel, at the corner of Castlereagh Street and Martin Place, was described in the Sunday Herald on March 13 1949 as the “resort of men about town”. The ‘long bar’ was said to be around 30 metres or 98 feet in length before it was shortened into a number of smaller bars in 1953.

Captains Flat Hotel, Captain Flat, 1970. Picture: Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University

The newly completed Captains Flat Hotel on the Southern Tablelands of rural New South Wales took the title from the Australia Hotel when it was completed in 1937. The Captains Flat Hotel boasted a public bar 32.2 metres or about 105 feet long. More history on the Captains Flat Hotel HERE.

However, a year later, Victoria stole the title from NSW, when the Mildura Working Man’s Club built a T-shaped bar in 1938 that measured 285 feet in length. According to the trade demand, the number of barmen employed behind the bar at one time varied from 40 to 80 during the 1940s.

The old Hotel Marrickville in Sydney’s inner-west was rebuilt in 1939 with a public bar measuring 170 feet (52 metres) in length, making it the longest pub bar in Australia. However, the Mildura Working Man’s Club continued to hold the overall record for the longest bar in Australia.

In 1970 the bar at the Mildura club was rebuilt with a hook and was noted in the Guinness Book of Records as holding world record length status. The bar was 91 metres (299 ft) long around “the centre line of the service surface” and had 32 beer taps. The bar was removed in 1995 during renovations to add poker machines.

Tooths sold the Hotel Marrickville to a group of local businessmen for $102 million, and it closed for business on November 27 1984. The pub was converted to shops and the ‘long bar’ removed.

With the closure of the Hotel Marrickville, the pub at Captains Flat Hotel regained the title of Australia’s longest bar, although its original 32.2 metres bar has since been reduced in size.

Despite the bar at the Captains Flat pub now measuring 22.8 metres, it continues to claim the title of Australia’s longest bar. The pub is currently closed (2022) and has been purchased by new owners who are about to embark on a major renovation. It’s uncertain of the future of the ‘long bar’.

Can you tell us of an Australian pub bar longer than 22.8 metres or 72 feet in length? Let us know in the comments section below.

Other pubs that have claimed to have Australia’s longest bar include:

  • Big Bell, Western Australia: the hotel of an abandoned township in the Murchison region in Western Australia (72 feet).
  • Wiluna, Western Australia: The old Weeloona Hotel (demolished in the mid-1970s) was reputed to have the world’s longest bar. I have been unable to find the length of the bar. Can anyone help out with the length of the Weeloona Hotel’s public bar?
  • Melbourne, Victoria: The bar at The Trust in Flinders Lane is said to be over 40 metres (130 ft) long.
Weeloona Hotel 1930 Public Domain FLICKR
Weeloona Hotel, Wiluna, Western Australia, 1930s. Picture: Flickr, Public Domain
Big Bell Hotel WA 1
Big Bell Hotel, Western Australia, 1930s. Picture: State Library of Western Australia
Big Bell Hotel licensee Norm Fraser centre
Big Bell Hotel’s bar, with licensee Norm Fraser in the centre, 1930s. Picture: State Library of Western Australia

WHEN is a worker not a worker? They’ve got the answer in Mildura. It’s when he gets £1000 a year. Anyone who earns that much has to resign from the local Workers’ Club and can join the Settlers’ Club. The entrance fee to the Workers’ Club is ten bob, but there’s a waiting list of more than 3500. Incidentally, Mildura makes Wiluna gnash its teeth because it has the longest bar in the world —385ft. of it. When the Yanks were here they copied the bar plan and took it home, where they planned to build an even bigger one. But when the completed job was measured it was 10in. short.

-The Daily News (Perth, WA) Friday 2 July 1948.

milduraworkersclub1961
Mildura Workers Club long bar 1961. Picture: Supplied

Mildura Club

MILDURA Working Men’s Club, which in 1938 earned itself the distinction of having the longest bar in the world, 187 feet, has just elected its first three life members. They are Mr. C. Lambert (84), a foundation member of the club; Mr. L. Lay, a club trustee for 25 years, and Mr. C. Haynes, for 20 years club manager. At a presentation dinner, they gave an outline of the growth of the club, from its earliest days in 1893 when a small tin shed was the meeting place of some of the first settlers, to one of Australia’s biggest and best-known clubs, with a membership of 4000. Besides a membership of 4000, the club has a waiting list of 1200 prospective members and one of the finest buildings in northern Victoria.

FOOTNOTE: The Americans have since built a longer bar, and the 187 feet Mildura bar with 28 taps employing up to 40 barmen at peak periods is now only the largest in the southern hemisphere.

– The Farmer and Settler, Friday, December 10, 1954.

bluey curley long bar

© Copyright Mick Roberts 2022


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Categories: Australian Hotels

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4 replies

  1. Does anyone know the Carr ant longest bar in Australiasia

  2. The longest bar in Australia is the bar at Captains Flat Hotel with out
    Question I would even say its the longest bar in the southern hemisphere

    • yep i agree mate. however i think the pub might be closed. i was there 5 or more years ago when the new owners took over… the bar was still there… it stretches through the public bar and into the dining area. the new owners where lovely and gave us a tour of the whole building, including the blood stains out back where the miners used to fight, up stirs and the cellar which still had some of the original 30s era equipment for the taps.

  3. The old Hotel Marrickville in NSW was rebuilt in 1939 with a public bar 170 feet (52 metres) long. There is a TimeGents page about it here https://timegents.com/2019/03/02/hotel-marrickville-marrickville/

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