BY John Larkins*
IN the good old days when the shearing shed at Tinnenburra was the biggest in the world, Annie Lack’s arms grew tired just opening beer bottles. But the shed is disused, silent now. The shearers have gone – but Annie, in her seventies, remains behind the bar of Tattersall’s Hotel at Barringun, a mile south of the Queensland border.
“Sometimes,” she sighed, “I mightn’t sell a beer all day.”
She occupies herself by keeping alive the outback oasis around the pub; the grass is green and soft underfoot, and flowers always bloom. Her husband, James, sits at the switchboard in the tiny post office they run next door. He has a full-size billiard table in a room behind the bar. But who’s there to play?
Adjoining the corner bar, there’s the Tap Room. Except there are no taps.
“Oh, that’s easily explained,” Annie said. “The shearers used to sit around a table in that room, and when they wanted another jug of beer, they’d tap the wall.”
* IN the early 1970s, writer, John Larkins and photographer, Bruce Howard went on a 40,000km pub crawl around Australia, telling their wives, “Don’t wait up!” With Larkins wonderful words, and Howards’ fabulous photos, they chronicled an amazing snap shot of Australian pub culture – many, both people and pubs, which have now gone. From that expedition they had published “Australian Pubs”. These are excerpts from the now out of print book.