THE public bar of the Dajarra Hotel has several paintings of nudes with breasts like helium balloons. They’re all Aboriginal girls’ lounging in sensuous repose around campfires. But who are they?
“Aw, just a few local girls,” said a patron. Wink, wink, wink.
The truth is that they are the products of the fertile mind of a Mount Isa miner named Mickey Rooney (truly) who regularly makes the 99 mile trip south to Dajarra to paint in the bar.
Using ordinary house paint, he sets up his canvas on two tea chests in a corner of the bar and paints away steadily all weekend, consuming large amounts of beer between each stroke of the brush.
The local people think he is marvellous [and so does Time Gents!].
“see the picture of that sheila there? One whispered. “Well, it took him a whole quart of paint just to do her left tit.”
– John Larkins*
Dajarra is a town in the far north-west of Outback Queensland, near the border with the Northern Territory. It is about 150km south of Mount Isa on the Diamantina Developmental Road.
Mark Etherton supplied this great picture he took when he visited Dajarrra on August 23 2018. Mark says the pub is still trading, although he didn’t go inside on his most recent visit. He writes: “When I visited the pub 12 months ago I did however have a few beers inside and looked at the paintings on the wall mentioned by Bruce Howard, which are maybe a bit faded but still in place.”
* 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.
Categories: Australian Hotels