Australia Hotel’s long bar and the quirky practice of throwing coins into its chandeliers

Australia Hotel Sydney 1950s
Australia Hotel, Sydney, 1950s. Picture: Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University

THE Long Bar of the Australia Hotel, known all over the world, is having its character changed. Half its length has closed down and will be converted into a series of short island bars, with a cocktail bar at the end. Meanwhile, business and barmaids have been transferred to the other side while the transfer takes place. It looks like the beginning of the end of another tradition.

Arthur Polkinghorne’s Sydney Diary, Sydney Sun, September 3, 1953.

long bar australia hotel sydney
The Australia Hotel’s long bar, after it was “converted into a series of short island bars, with a cocktail bar at the end”. Picture: The Daily Telegraph Friday 18 December 1953.
Rowe Street, Sydney, where access was gained to the public bar of the Australia Hotel. Picture: Supplied
Flipping coins into the chandelier of the Australia Hotel. Picture: Sunday Telegraph, December 12, 1943
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SYDNEY’S Australia Hotel was located at the corner of Castlereagh Street and Martin Place, with the public bar entered through a door-way from a rear laneway, known as Rowe Street.

Rowe Street, during the 1950s and 60s, was the place to go for Sydney’s ‘touch of Paris’.

A narrow laneway, running between Pitt and Castlereagh streets, it was small-scale, personable, cosmopolitan, and offered speciality shops, along with a mix of fashion, tearooms, homewares, art, music, literature and good coffee.

The Australia Hotel’s public bar became known for the quirky practice of throwing coins into four chandeliers that lit its famous long bar during the 1940s and 50s.

Reportedly, it was not unusual for more than £25 to be retrieved from the bar’s chandeliers each month.

The money was in turn given to charity.

Pictured right is an airman tossing coins into one of the long bar’s chandeliers at the Hotel Australia in 1943. 

Arthur Polkinghorne was correct in predicting in his column that the shortening of its famous long bar was the “beginning of the end”.

The landmark hotel sadly closed for business in 1971, and was later demolished.

Location of the Australia Hotel 1956, with thanks to Ray Snook. Picture: CofS Building Surveyors Sheet 6 (part).

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Categories: Sydney hotels

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1 reply

  1. Was the Long Bar at the Hotel Australia accessed via Rowe Street?

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