Dajarra Hotel is a remote outback pub near the Queensland border with the Northern Territory. It’s about 150km south of Mount Isa on the Diamantina Developmental Road.
The pub became famous in the 1970s for its busty nudes painted by Mount Isa miner and artist, Mickey Rooney, who, according to author, John Larkins, regularly made the 160kms drive south to Dajarra to paint in the bar.
Using ordinary house paint, Mickey set up his canvases on tea chests in a corner of the bar and painted away steadily all weekend, consuming large amounts of beer between each stroke of the brush.
Mark Etherton supplied a beaut picture he took of the pub 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 John Larkins, 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. From that expedition they had published “Australian Pubs”. This is an excerpt from the now out of print book when the pair visited the Dajarra Hotel:
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.
“see the picture of that sheila there? One whispered. “Well, it took him a whole quart of paint just to do her left tit.”
An interesting comment was posted on social media (Aussie History Facebook Group) in response to this story from ‘Tourer Wilkie’ in March 2022. He writes: “Mate and I built the hi-set duplex houses in Dajarra 1978. First night we arrived publican and barman had big brawl mate said something to one of them we were booted out we were to camp behind pub. With nowhere to stay we camped three and half months on building site no water, power, washing in the creek and long drop toilet at tin humpy across the road. It was rough and wild and eye-opener! We refused to buy beer or drink at the Dajarra pub instead doing the trip to Isa 93 miles away then for supplies. After two months the publican asked us to recess the till into the bar he was afraid someone was going to grab it and go, and there it is still recessed into the bar all those years ago! On right (of the photo above of the two men sitting at the bar) looks like publican Mick Wright, my recollection from 1978.”
PAYPAL BAR TIP
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Categories: Queensland hotels
You spelt Dajarra as “Dirjarra” in the title of your recent post. I was at the Dajarra a week or so ago. Pub still going – I will send you a recent photo shortly.
Thanks Mark. Will correct the spelling. Great news that the pub’s still trading.. Look forward to seeing the Dajarra pub “today” post… Cheers.
i knew Micky Rooney about 1970 a nice bloke and a real wag. He was a great cartoonest as well. Middleton pub had the bar painted with cartoons by Micky
Thanks Allen. Great bit of social history there… Cheers, mate….