Strange But True was a contributors column, which appeared in Smith’s Weekly, from the 1919 through to 1950.
1925: GOATS STICKY END – Jerry, a William goat owned by a publican in Townsville (Q.), was a valuable asset to the “house” for he would breast the bar and participate in all the shouts that came his way. On one occasion when a gunboat visited the port, the sailors commandeered Jerry and took him the rounds of the hotels. So intoxicated did he become that a wheelbarrow had to be requisitioned to take him home. Jerry came to an untimely end, for after waking from a drunken stupor he ate a number of fly-papers. – “Peaks.”
1941: PUBLICANS’ HOBBIES – AT many hotels, particularly at popular holiday resorts, the publicans indulge in unusual hobbies which not only amuse themselves but draw custom. One publican at Kiama (NSW) has a splendid collection of unique fish, and when not engaged in his hotel business or the complaints of his electors (he is an MLA) he is attending to his fish tanks. At Mt. Victoria, on the Blue Mountains, there is a fine museum attached to the hotel. Here you can see a fine collection of relics of the early days and many other articles collected from various parts of the world. A publican on the Queensland coast is said to possess one of the largest private zoos in Australia. An hotel in Picton (NSW) which claims to be the oldest licensed house in Australia has a fine collection of birds as well as a collection of freak timber growths which resemble human beings. On the way to Canberra politicians and others stop to have one at the historic Collector Hotel, where bush ranger John Dunn shot Constable Nelson. A granite obelisk just outside the hotel marks the spot where the constable fell. Inside the hotel you can see the bloodstained sofa on which Nelson was placed. Muddie’s crow at Nimmitnbel (NSW) hotel was known all over the country. This was the finest talking crow I have ever seen. – “Woorinyan,” Woollahra, NSW.
1930: THIRSTY DAY – A few years ago, when the first hotel was opened at Tully (N.Q), the takings on the day of the opening, compared favorably with that of any hotel in Australia. At the time there was no cash register, and the money was put into kerosene tins. At the conclusion of the day the publican had three of these tins full to the top with notes and silver. Owing to the crush at the bar the thirsty drinkers bought cases of lager and sat down a little distance from the pub, and ran a bar of their own. – “K-Rat.”
1921: BEER FOR BIRDS – “Steve” (“S.W.”15/l/’21) re the drunkard pig, reminds me of a butcher bird, owned by a publican in Croydon (North Q’land), many years ago. Every day ‘Joey’ drank a glass of it off on a rafter. – “E. Nabsirb.”
1942: ODD BEGINNING – Toowoomba, third city of Queensland, owes its in auguration to a Drayton publican’s vile temper. Drayton, three miles away, was the logical site for a town. In 1850 it was a busy centre. The District Court held its sessions in a hall of the hotel. At this time the present site of Toowoomba consisted of a shanty and a swamp, and it was known as The Swamp. One day the court offended the Drayton hotelkeeper, and he told it to take a sultry, journey in the briefest possible time. The hotel at The Swamp was then gazetted as the future place of Sessions. The town grew, and in 1858 changed its name to Toowoomba. Drayton languished (and is still doing it) – all because an insignificant publican owned a spiky temper. – “Hayband,” Strathfield, NSW.
1923: FLIES FOLLOW CATTLE TRAIN – Was having a drink in a country hotel on the western line, when the bar was invaded by clouds of blow and house files. “They’ll clear out in a few minutes,” explained the publican. “A cattle train bound for Homebush has just pulled in; the flies will go away with it.” He was right. – “E.G.H.”
1922: FORTUNE FOR NIGHT’S SHELTER – A prosperous NSW country publican used to keep a hotel on the Black Soil Plains. There walked into his bar one evening an old swaggie, who looked done in. He begged a bit of tucker and a bed for the night, saying that he had a job to go to at Moree. He had no money, only a Tatt’s ticket. He asked just the value of what he had paid for it. It subsequently drew second horse. Although the publican advertised and scoured the country, he never located the old bush worker. – “Clep.
1950: ALMOST HUMAN – Charlie Rowell, 72-year-old veteran, living near Waikerie, on the banks of the River Murray (SA), is anything but lonely. His faithful Labrador retriever, Mick Cook, is as good as a human companion. Named after the local publican, the latter returns the compliment by owning a dog called Charlie Rowell.
1948: THOSE WERE THE DAYS – They fixed the price of beer even in the early days of NSW. A Government brewery was established at Parramatta in 1804, and beer was sold to licensed persons at a shilling and four pence a gallon. They were permitted to retail it at six pence a quart only. One wonders if present day publicans would be satisfied with a profit of eight pence a gallon.- “Wongarbon.
1923: STINGING THE PUBLICAN – Saw an engineer handle a swarm of bees at a Gladesvllle pub. He put them in a box with bare hands, then walked into the bar with both, hands full, and threatened to let them go if the licensee did not shout. The licensee poured the drinks. I had a pint. – “Armis.”
1931: THE LIVING DEAD – Experience worse than being buried alive almost befell a Central Queenslander familiarly known as Long Gordon, at Isisford, in the early days. Having been on a spree, he got himself into such a state that he nearly “cashed in,” and he was so lifeless that he was taken for dead. He was 7ft long, and Whitman, publican, storekeeper, and undertaker, was puzzled about his coffin. Someone suggested shortening the corpse with a saw, which was produced. At the psychological moment, Gordon made a move, his heart was felt faintly beating, and the operation (AND the funeral) was postponed several years. – “Arjen.”
1924: A FIRE BUG – How simple fires may originate was illustrated in a Queensland hotel. It was a hot summer’s night. Only the publican and two customers were in the bar when a cockroach flew in. It cannoned against a box of wax vestas, which fell to the ground and burst into flames. Had no one been present nothing could have saved the building from destruction by fire, which would have had everybody puzzled as to its origin. — “P. Jay.”
1929: NEDDY ON THE BEER – A Pialba (Q.) publican, carrying out a bucket of stale beer, was called away, and left his load on the ground near the stables. On his return the bucket was empty. When he went to harness his horse he found it snoring and so drunk that he had to borrow a neddy for the remainder of the day, while his own nag “slept it off.” – “6104.”
1930: JOY RIDING CHOOKS – Taking an evening drive a short while back, a settler on the Queensland coast called in at an hotel, where he spent several hours before returning home. Next morning he was puzzled to find two strange fowls in his yard. The birds belonged to the hotelkeeper, and had gone to roost on the axle of the motor car while it was standing waiting in the yard. That the fowls retained their perch over the rough roads wasn’t stranger than the curses hurled by the publican after the unknown purloiner of his prize cacklers. – “Windy Willy.”
1921: A FOUR LEGGED BANK – The quietude of the little country pub was disturbed by the entry of a sundowner, who threatened to shoot the cow that stole his Lizzie. The culprit was found in a back parlour with the stolen lady – a mangy sheep dog. The owner was so overjoyed at recovering his miserable dog that he forgot to shoot, and started to drink pints. After extracting a solemn oath from us, he undid the dog’s collar and displayed a row of sovereigns. – “Ewa.
1950: LIKE THEIR TIPPLE – Squeakie, a rosella parrot owned by a N.Q. publican, perches on a pewter, quaffs his beer, and like a bar-room hobo calls out, “Hy’a cobber?” When the Bundaberg (Q.) distillery was burned down some time ago, fish got on the scoot from the rum flowing into the river. Kiki, a tortoise-shell tomcat in the posh suburb of St. Lucia, Brisbane, guzzles down Martini cocktails no end; and for good measure a cow owned by the proprietor of a Brisbane hotel lines up daily for her bucket of beer. – “Q.X.”
1949: SHARTERED HOPED – Shattered Hopes: Goulburn (NSW) people really thought that their city would be selected as the Federal Capital back in 1897, when a local Convention Invitation Committee was formed. Many meetings were held, and one publican was optimistic enough to name his hotel “The Federal City Hotel.” It has long since been delicensed. – “Cliquot.”
1921: WIRE WALKING RAT – South Grafton (NSW) has a gigantic rat, almost as big as a bandicoot, which every evening gives a wire-walking demonstration on the telephone wires between the two hotels. “Coming over to get his drop,” is the town’s daily jest. – “Mena.”
1921: BULLOCK PICKS MAN’S POCKET – A mob was passing a roadside pub, and the hotelkeeper was standing by the horse-rail admiring the beef. A bullock with turned-in horns eyed him for a moment then suddenly made a rush. Bung leaped backward just in time, the curved horn brushing his vest. When the drovers called for refreshments he joked about his escape, but after they left he missed his watch and chain, and said he was certain one of the cattlemen had relieved him. A long way down the road it was noticed that one of the bullocks was wearing something bright against its ear. It was the missing watch and chain, hooked from the publican’s vest. -“Cooramin.”
1921: RAT’S GOLD COLLAR – A lady’s gold ring which must have been lost for years was recovered at the George Hotel, Ballarat in a remarkable manner. A number of young rats were trapped one night, and one of them had the ring around its neck. The half-grown rodent must have worn the ring for a long time, for its head had considerably outgrown it, and its throat was already constricted in the circle. – “Bill B.”
1920: TONGUE-TIED BULLOCK – In Collins’ Exchange Hotel at Charters Tower (Q.), there was preserved in spirits for many years, a curiosity in the shape of a bullock’s tongue with three rings of a hobble chain attached. The bullock must have picked them up when a calf, as the tongue had grown over the rings, one of which was hanging loose, the tongue being thrust through the other two. They had evidently no effect on his digestion, as he was one of the finest and fattest ever killed by the local butcher. -“Saxin.”
1920: THE ROOF TREE – For many years there was a tree growing in a house at the corner of Castlereagh and Hunter streets, Sydney. This corner was formerly occupied by Bowden’s Club House Hotel, which stood back from the footpath. In the front were two Norfolk pines. A new bar-room was built round one of these in such a way that the tree went through the middle of the roof, and seats were provided in the bar, round the trunk. When the license was transferred to a building in Elizabeth-street the bar became a confectionery and refreshment shop, and its sign stated, that it was the only shop in Sydney with a tree growing through the roof. – “s.y.d.”
1927: MATURED WOOD – Visiting a long-delicensed hotel in the Doncaster (Vic.) district, the local trooper noticed that several nomads, camped in the derelict building, were much the worse for liquor. Probing into the cause, he was informed that the dead-beats had found several wine and spirit casks in the cellar, and had entered on a prolonged spree, after boiling down the staves! – “Pax.”
1937: CASTING KEGS BEFORE FIREFIGHTERS – Publican In a small town in NSW was recently one of the most astonished men in the country. Bushfires were raging in the scrublands; and a small band of tired men were battling desperately day and night to save their grass. The publican loaded a keg of beer into his car, and motored nearly 30 miles to treat the thirsty fire fighters. Reaching the gang, he discovered, to his amazement and disgust, that, out of the 20 men in the gang, only one was not a teetotaller. – “Bung.”
1931: COUNTER ATTACK – Liquor war is still raging in Victoria. Publican in a country town, who had obtained the booth at a race meeting, inserted the following advertisement in the local paper: “Wanted: — 1000 beer-drinkers, at the Campbells Creek Race course on Boxing Day.” The following day it was answered. “Wanted: — 1000 beer drinkers to sign the pledge and so reduce, Victoria’s annual drink bill.” – “Hame.”
1934: SOCIAL SIXPENCE – In Yeppoon, a small seaside village in Queensland, a publican found a “dud” sixpence in his till. He put it in his pocket and passed it off on the local barber when paying for a shave. The tonsorial expert, however, examined the coin after his customer had gone, and that evening, when having a pot, preferred it in payment. The publican grinned as he recognised it, and since then it has passed back and forth between the two several times a week. It comes to the barber every morning, and finishes up in the publican’s till at night. – “N.C.”
1922: THE LOST PROFITS – A publican out west of Broken Hill had his business seized for debt. In Broken Hill, his wife confessed that she had a little hoard of sovereigns saved from the bar under the floor of the room, which the bailiff had occupied. She had tried to get it, but was unable to do so without being seen. Hubby hastened back to the old place, and asked to be given the “treasure” room while he stayed there. In the night he took up a flooring board, and discovered over 600 sovereigns on the ground. Not long afterwards he resumed business at the old address. – “Mulgo.”
1932: THREE COURSE DRINKS – Not a few city residents have queer tastes in liquors. For example, a man who took up a position beside writer in a city bar recently ordered the following: “Half a pint of beer, one nobbler of house whisky, fill the ‘pot’ up with lemonade and add Russian bitters.” The barman asked what kind of a drink that was. “Oh, just a three course drink,” replied the customer, with a smile. Then I know of a man who takes, a glass of fairly hot (fire-heated) beer every night of his life before retiring. Warm beer. Ugh! – “T.”
1920: BEER DRINKING PONY – A Northern N.S.W. town remembers “Mick,” a creamy pony owned by a local publican. Reared from a foal on the premises, he loved beer, and would stroll into the bar whenever he saw a crowd about. When asked to have a drink he would nod his head to the barman. The publican had a special drinking receptacle made for Mick, and the boozer always nodded politely to the man shouting before he drank. He could stand more than any toper in town. — “Clep.”
1922: GOT CHANGE OF A SCALP? – Years ago, I attended a race meeting at Grabben Gullen (NSW). There was very little money about, and a cocky generally paid in scalps. Dingo scalps were 10 shillings, crows’ heads 4 pence, kangaroo rat scalps 2 pence, hares 3 pence. A cocky, now very prosperous, asked me to join him in a drink. He called for two beers, and brought out a roll of dingo scalps. Threw one on the counter, and the barman sent his boy out for change – a flour-bag of crows’ heads, rat and hare scalps. – “Paddy’s Plains.”
1930: PAID FOR ITSELF – At Flemington, a few years ago, I had only a “deener” left after the third race. With this I bought a pie and a drink. As I bit into the pie, my teeth gritted on something hard, which led to the discovery of eight, two shilling pieces in side. Evidently a dishonest barman, after using the pie as a “plant,” had disposed of it by mistake. Anyhow, it was a fortunate turn-up that enabled me to land home with a tenner. – “F.W.M.”
1921: COCKATOO AS BARMAN – A few years ago strolled into the Rising Sun Hotel, Little Bourke Street, Melbourne, then kept by Harry Parsons. He had a cockatoo that could pull the tops off beer bottles, and fill a glass better than plenty of barmen. Only trouble was that he used to get on the shikker occasionally. Parsons used to distribute photos of him as an ad for the beer, he liked best. – “Darkren.”
1919: TOWNSVILLE’S GOAT – “Billy,” the “wharfie” goat, who earned a living leading live stock off the boats in the intervals of beer-drinking had a prototype in Townsville a few years ago. This chap was a white “Billy.” He boarded at Mat Jenkins’ Queensland Club Hotel in Flinders street, and never went to bed sober all the years I knew him. Every morning “Billy” would be at the door of the front bar — he never patronised the 6d. — and if the barman was slow in opening up “Billy” would take it out of the door. His speciality was a pint, and, though there was a dish on the floor for him, he liked his friends to give it him out of the pewter. Every night darkness saw him thoroughly soused, and then he would stagger to his fig-tree to sleep it off.
1919: AFTER 30 YEARS – “Brogi”‘: A hefty 18-carat gold ring awaits an owner at Cundletown on the Manning River. Thirty years ago a Ballarat digger stayed for the night at a local hotel. While washing his hands he put a massive gold ring on a nearby mantle-shelf, and when finished he reached up for it again, but pushed it back on the shelf till it fell in a crevice of the brickwork. The hotel changed hands several times, and the digger and his ring were forgotten till the other day in rebuilding operations it was recovered good as new with the word, “Ballarat,” and a representation of a pick and shovel neatly engraved upon it. The finder wants to find the digger of far-off days. But let no brummagem digger think that he may emulate the Tichborne claimant, for, in addition to the other markings, there is a talismanic sign by which the right man only may be known, and on it hangs a tale which he alone can tell.
1923: FROG IN THE MOUTH – Jack Wake, a well-known figure in Brisbane hotels, will place a live frog in his mouth and sip a pint without drowning greenie, who seems to enjoy his bath in hops. Jack usually has half-a-dozen frogs and a couple of snakes in his clothes. When out of pets, he plays a tin whistle. Though harmless, he is frequently in trouble with the police for frightening some woman with his livestock. – “Seyah” (Brisbane).
1928: AFTER HOURS – Beer-drinkers of Mungindi, on the Queensland and N.S.W. border are on a good wicket. They can drink at the two pubs on the N.S.W side until closing time (6 p.m.), and then wander over the border into Queensland, and imbibe until the pubs close their doors at 8 p.m. – “G-Vale.”
1926: TOO TRUE – There was a brawl on in the hotel at Richmond (Vic.) and the publican’s pet cockatoo, screaming “Too hot for Cockie,” flew out of the door on to an electric light wire conveying 5000 volts. With his eyes fixed on the pub, Cockie continued to repeat “Too hot for Cockie,” but when he caught a second wire in his beak and got the full force of the current, he burst into flames and was roasted black. – “Klim.”
1924: DRINKING DOG – The landlord of a South Coast pub formerly owned a drinking dog which would lap up bar slops. When thoroughly saturated, it would fall all over the place, pitching forward on to its face when it tried to walk, and then rolling over on its back and gazing up with a woebegone expression. A short sleep would put it right again, but it would swear off till next day. It died after a counle of years, a prohibition sermon on four legs. — “Finno.”
1930: JACKY’S RUSE – This happened in Forbes back in 1914. One morning Jacky came into the bar of a pub about 8 o’clock. “Eh, Boss,” he said, “dead dog in your back yard.” He was forthwith offered a beer to cart it away, and he was not slow in accepting. About 11 o’clock Jacky was seen by the barman staggering down the main street dragging a dead cattle dog behind him. He had worked the same gag on each of the 14 pubs in town. – “Corinthe.”
1939: BOTTLE BEACON – Among the landmarks that mail planes from Darwin pick up are the White-ant Matterhorns, a cluster of huge termite mounds in a region where they are the chief feature of the landscape, and the huge pile of empty bottles at Innamincka (S.A.), said to be the largest bottle-heap in Australia. This gleaming beacon, glistening in the sunlight, can be seen from miles away. Though it is the accumulation of many years, travellers marvel at the vast number of empties, for Innamincka consists of only a pub, a police resilience, and an Inland Mission hospital. – “Mundowle.”
1935: DOGS AND HOT DOGS – An Airedale, at Gosford (N.S.W.) “comesanasone” with the best of ’em, but in his case it’s “hot dogs” he swallows. Punctually at 5 p.m. “Jock” makes for an hotel, pushes open the swing doors and lines up to the bar. Standing up on his hind tegs, he puts his paws on the counter and waits until the kindly barmaid serves him with his share of the sausages. For five years he has been making his visits, and not once has he made the mistake of calling at the pub on Sunday. – “Lawrence.”
1921: THE ONE EYE INN – While travelling in North Queensland as an insurance inspector, I happened upon a little one-pub town. I found I was the only person in the place with two eyes. The innkeeper and his wife each had a glass eye, whilst the servant girl and another traveller who happened to be there, each had one eye missing. The innkeeper’s father was totally blind. – “Snaka.”
1933: ALL THE SAME – In referring to the reason for the Camp Hotel at Julia Creek (West Q.) becoming known as “The One Eye,” “Pantaloon” did not mention all the coincidences. In addition to the proprietor, his wife, and his dog having only one eye each there was an old pet sow, which used to spend most of her time asleep on the pub verandah, and which was also minus an eye. – “Canny Scot.”
1923: PUBLICAN’S FROG TEAM – A publican in a Queensland border town encourages a number of frogs in the bar to keep down the flies. A few, years ago the frogs were knocking over too many glasses, so he took them to the river, 50 yards away. He returned to his pub just in front of his hopping workers. – “R.M.H.”
1948: HISTORIC PUB – One of Australia’s oldest licensed premises, the 109 years old Mack’s Hotel at Geelong (V.), went out of business recently. The original building was erected m 1838 and called the Woolpack Inn. Interesting relic in the old building is a licence issued at Melbourne, Vic., March 30, 1839, by P. M. Lonsdale, authorising Andrew McNaughton to sell liquor. Beneath the document are the words, “First licence granted for Geelong.” In 1897 the hotel licence was converted into an Australian wine licence. The Duke of Edinburgh stopped at the hotel during his Australian tour in 1867. – “Segamore.”
1931: WASTE OF BEER – Motoring across the desert of sand on the way to Ouyen (Vic.) from Red Cliffs, we discovered that the radiator was empty, and the car stopped. As the nearest water was 10 miles distant, six bottles of beer were regretfully poured into the tank by the only teetotaller member of the party — the rest standing to attention. The remaining 20 mile run to Ouyen was done without a hitch – “C.S”.
1922: BUCKING DOG – There lives at the “Welcome Home,” Longreach (Q.), the only bucking dog in existence. On a board floor, Rover will pig-jump and root like any outlaw. But he will not even shy on the bare ground. Among his other accomplishments are those of climbing ladders, waltzing on beer casks, imitating a statue on a gate post, and pulling cats’ tails. – “Syd. S.”
1928: TWO YEAR DROUGHT – The longest beer strike in the history of Australia occurred some years ago at Hughenden (W.Q.), when “black beer” was on tap at the pubs for just on two years. When the unionists who helped to keep the pubs black wanted a drink, they would get cases of lager from the storekeepers and have a party on the river bank of the Flinders. – “Out West”
1947: HORSE SENSE – NO. 1 beer sparrer of Australia’s equine population is Max, a Eumundi, North Coast Queensland pony. Immediately he is turned loose after bringing his owner to town on Saturdays, Max makes for the pub. Making quite a decorous entrance, he joins the nearest group and holds up a foreleg for a handshake. The acceptor of the greeting, by this gesture, renders himself liable to buy a beer for Max. The pony has never been known to knock back a beer and he holds his liquor like a thoroughbred equine gentleman. However, he does not waste time if a pot is somewhat slow in forthcoming and moves on to a more hospitable group. Max is well aware when Saturday, the time for his weekly day out, arrives. On that morning he stamps impatiently at the rails till his owner is ready to start out for town. — “Rus.”
1926: AS IF – A notice near the workmen’s bar in a Sydney brewery warns employees that if they are caught emptying any of their beer allowance on the ground or down the drain they will have such allowance stopped for an indefinite period. — “Boko.”
1930: HOPS FOR FLOPPY – A Waverley (NSW) resident has a young kangaroo who is partial to his “hops.” At the Xmas festivities he was given a drink of beer. Thus he acquired a taste for it, and when the “dead -marines” were lined up for cremation he was found by the owner with his tongue to a bottle. -“Ewa.”
1926: FROZEN JOY – Last winter, a digger, who imported a dozen bottles of Cascade Ale to the osmiridium field at Adams River (Tas.), woke one snowy morning to find his booze frozen solid, and the bottles burst. Not to be done out of his drink, he thawed the frozen beer over the fire, in a prospector’s dish, and invited a few cobbers in to help him finish it off. – “Tally Ho.”
1926: BURIAL SERVICE FOR PARROT – Road cemetery at Parramatta (N.S.W.) is that of a parrot. For twenty years the bird entertained travellers at one of the hotels, and the wife of the hotelkeeper became so attached to it that when it died she purchased a grave, hired a mourning coach and, after employing the local undertaker to make the coffin, read the burial service over the remains at the graveside herself. – “Gwydir.”
1931: RUNNING DEAD – Recently visited the cemetery of a Victorian town I’d known well 28 years ago. Found myself well-acquainted; friends of mine were lying about in all directions. Noted some astonishing reversals of form. For instance, the owner (in my time) of a capable cough, death-sentenced at an early date in 1902 as a consumptive wreck, disposed of his last breath only six months ago. Transpired that he’d inherited a moderate annuity, and developed an attachment for beer, which affection grew with the years. He commenced hiccuping in 1903, and kept it up steadily for more than a quarter-century. From which it would seem that beer is the proper medicine, and hiccuping the correct exercise for such breath-snatching complaints. -“Hayband.”
1937: KEEPING MEMORY GREEN – An old-age pensioner at Tugun (Q.), by the sea, owns what is perhaps the strangest house in Australia. This is about 30ft, by 40ft., divided into two rooms, and composed entirely of beer, whisky, rum and wine bottles. It has been standing for more than 12 years, and is still in very good condition. The owner was formerly the proprietor of fashionable hotels in London and Paris, and doubtless his novel abode keeps fresh the memory of former days. – “Oronsay.”
1927: SHOULDERING HIS SHELTER – When two navvies, working together at Waranga Basin Reservoir (Vic.) fell out, they agreed to divide the stripped bark they had used as a roof for their dining shanty. Loading his portion on to a hand-truck, one of the partners took it into the township and converted it into beer. His mate shouldered the remainder and carried it to another job, nine miles away. – “R.”
1941: COCKROACH CAPERS – Champiuon topers of the insect world are the giant flying cockroaches of far N.Q. A few dregs of beer in a bottle overnight will turn the latter into mausoleum for hordes of the pestilential winged marauders, who have sought a death entirely without sting. So pronounced is their alcoholic predilection that I’ve known bearded bushworkers, who commenced to sleep off a jag with a full flowing facial fungus, and woke to find themselves near cleanshaven; all because the hirsute arrangements were soaked in beer, which proved an irresistible allure to the insect booze artists, who nibbled down the alcohol-steeped whiskers right to the roots. The same cockroach also rates as a champion defler of extinction. I’ve known a pearl-shelling lugger, after six weeks’ submergence, to teem with the brutes a few hours after refloating. – “Leirum,” Brisbane. Q.
1923: CANTEEN KANGAROO – Members of the Australian Siege Brigade will remember “Jacko,” the pet kangaroo. “Jacko” would line up to the canteen, take his pot of beer in his paws and drain it. Unfortunately, the Jolly old marsupial broke his neck at Taunton, England. He hopped away from the bar, miscalculated the wire netting, and crashed. – “Wheatsheaf.”
1925: HOPS FOR HOPS – Thoroughly agree with W.P.T (“S.W.” 22/8/25). Frogs thrive on beer all right. Was running an hotel in Duchess (N.Q.) some years back, and one of my boarders was a big green frog. He dwelt under the counter and after closing he would come out and make a meal of the spillings. He was over six inches long and weighed just under 3lbs. — “Humoresque.”
1925: FIREMAN BEER – Twenty bottles of beer stored in a locker in the Buffalo Hall, Maylands (S.A.), which was destroyed by fire recently, acted as a fire extinguisher. They exploded, and the beer saved not only the locker in which they were stored, but also an adjoining locker, in which were valuable documents belonging to the lodge. -“Kelday.”
1925: DRUNKEN BIRDS – Most teamsters on the road from Merimbula (NSW South Coast) wharf to Southern Monaro carry -with them a brace and bit and tap the beer casks on the road up. Not satisfied with this, one teamster always left a small supply in a barrel hidden on the roadside at the foot of the Wolumla Peak. For many months his plant was not discovered until a passer-by noticed the queer antics of a flock of mountain parrots and cockatoos all lying about the one spot. A stray animal had evidently knocked the lid off the barrel. Some of the birds were too drunk to fly and rolled about the ground. Hundreds of bees were similarly affected. – “W.P.T.”
1926: PODDY’S PAL – At the Scarboro Hotel, Queensland, is a horse which takes care of a poddy calf. I went to scruff the mickey one day and the colt intervened with gleaming teeth and flying hoofs. I withdrew, and the cobbers nuzzled each other and trotted.
1939: TEAMSTERS’TRICKS – Fast disappearing into the dust of the West is the old-time bullocky, and with him the legion of tricks by which he used to broach his cargo. With beer the method consisted of drilling two small holes in the cask, extracting a billy full of beer, then sealing the holes with two plugs of wood, which were sawn off flush with the wood of the cask, thus effectively concealing the tell tale apertures. With rum the method was more laborious but defied detection. The space enclosed by the iron hoop on top of the cask was filled with water and the keg allowed to stand in the hottest western sun available. The volatility of the spirit did the rest and the result was that a fair supply of diluted rum was available for scooping up in a pannikin. These were the solutions under lying the frequent appearance of sozzled teamsters, with their cargo apparently quite intact, even after a trip which sometimes took a month to make. -“Lux.”
1938: REARED ON BEER – One of the finest cattle dogs I ever saw was reared on beer. When a sickly pup he was given to a drover in the north-west of N.S.W. The drover gave him small doses of beer with his milk each morning and, as the pup grew up, he developed a love for beer, and when fully grown looked for his pint each time the driver entered an hotel bar. The drover always placed his felt hat on the floor, filled the crown with beer, and allowed the dog to drink it. The dog worked better after a good drink of beer on a hot day. — “W.”
1950: TATTERSALL’S HOTEL – Melbourne, is known as the Chameleon Hotel because in its 100 years’ existence it has had no fewer than four different names. When the original hostelry was erected in 1850, it was called the Ship Inn; in 1867 it was renamed the New Exhibition; and after the premises were reconstructed in 1874 the name was changed to the Union Hotel. It was known under that title until 26 years ago. Since then it has been called Tattersall’s. – “H.O’R.”
1929: DID YOU KNOW THIS – It is doubtful if one Melbournite in a thousand could direct a stranger asking for the Prince’s Bridge Hotel. Yet that is the correct name of the famous hostelry known Australia-wide and beyond as “Young and Jackson’s.” -“Phill.”
1920: CAT FREAK – At the Imperial Hotel, Brandon (N.Q.), I came across a cat which led me to believe that its mother had mated with a wallaby. Its two front legs were short, as in a wallaby, its tail was thick and bushy, and it had a distinct liking for lettuce, radishes and celery. Other cats gave it a wide berth. Its method of locomotion was the same as that of a marsupial. – “Sucre.”
1937: CROCDILE TRAPPED – Reading the paragraph about two rabbits caught in one trap, here’s an instance of a 14ft crocodile caught in a fish trap. This monster was in some unaccountable manner caught in a fish trap on the beach of “Zilzle,” thirty miles from Rockhampton, Queensland, and can now be seen (stuffed of course), in front of the Pine Beach Hotel, Emu Park. The amazing thing is crocodiles are not to be seen for hundreds of miles from this spot. A 12ft dugong was also caught in a trap almost at the same spot three months ago.- “L.”
1948: NOVEL BASKET – In the old Collector Hotel, near Lake George (NSW) and on the way to Canberra, is a quaint basket which was made from old cartridge shells by life sentence prisoners in old Berrima gaol. – “W.”
1925: BILLY THE BOOZER – For many years Townsville had a goat who made the rounds of the hotels dally and demanded his beer. If ignored he’d lower his wicked looking horns and make for the seat of the nearest customer. How much Billy drank was never tallied, but every evening in his declining years he’d stagger up some back lane looking for a quiet place to rest his weary body. – “Cyclone.”
1949: COPPER SHORTAGE – Sydney had a serious shortage of copper coins in 1851-53. This caused such inconvenience in hotels — and, consequently, affected the consumption of ale — that Robert Tooth offered £10,000 for £5000 worth of copper coin if landed in Sydney by a specified date. – “Gil.”
1949: HOTEL NOVELTY – Love birds are a feature of a Perth hotel, where — roosting on perches swinging from the neon lighting, and nesting among the bottles of the top shelves — they are allowed complete freedom of the saloon bar. Originally 20 in number, the flock is now reduced to two, the publican explaining that, though they are quite used to the sound of beer being pulled, the singing of the drinkers frightens them away. – “C.A.L.”
1935: CANINE ALARM – An hotelkeeper at Crow’s Nest (Q.) possesses probably the most unique “alarm clock” in the world. He is a prize black and white collie dog with an outsize supply of intelligence. When it is time for the staff to be up and doing, the collie enters the bedrooms and pulls the clothes off the beds. That done, he proceeds to rub his cold nose against the faces of the women workers, and persistently refuses to “get along, little doggie,” until they are thoroughly awake. The collie Invariably commences his task about 6 a.m., and never ceases until he has visited every room containing a member of the hotel staff. – “N.K.”
1939: CRINOLINE FLOAT – On one occasion a crinoline saved a woman from drowning in Fitzroy River, Rockhampton, Q. Mrs. Wakefield, licensee of Royal Fitzroy Hotel, in Quay Street, was accused in 1862 of stealing a couple of fowls from Elias Rutherford, pioneer chemist of the town. It was a trivial affair, but she was committed and had to be taken to Maryborough for trial. The steamer was out in the river, and the lady had to be rowed out in a small boat. The captain, not knowing that anyone was coming on board, ordered the engines to take a turn or two to prevent the steamer from going up with the strong flowing tide. Mrs. Wakefleld was about to step on to the ladder fixed to the side of the steamer just as the vessel moved off, and she fell into the water. Buoyed up by her crinoline, and flourishing her parasol, she floated up the river in dignified, if indignant, fashion. She was speedily rescued, and sent on her way to Maryborough, where she was acquitted of the fowl charge. – “Gerry.”