Fuelled by beer, Dajarra Hotel’s famous nudes were painted by a miner with house paint

Dajarra Hotel, Dajarra, Queensland 2018. Picture: Mark Etherton

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.”

Two of the nude paintings, Dajarra Hotel, C1972. Picture: Bruce Howard

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.”

Dajarra Hotel, C1972. Picture: Bruce Howard
imag7710_1119258493.jpg
Bath tub cooler, temporary bar, Dajarra races, Queensland, C1972. Picture: Bruce Howard. [What I would give for that box of Victoria Bitter – Editor].
Enjoying a few beers on the verandah of the Dajarra Hotel. Picture: Dajarra Hotel Facebook Page
Dajarra Hotel, Dajarra. Picture: Dajarra Hotel Facebook Page

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Categories: Queensland hotels

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4 replies

  1. Hi Mick
    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.
    Regards
    Mark

    • Thanks Mark. Will correct the spelling. Great news that the pub’s still trading.. Look forward to seeing the Dajarra pub “today” post… Cheers.

  2. 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

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