LOCATED 340kms south-west of Townsville, in northern Queensland, the Prairie Hotel is a must see with its unique atmosphere, collection of stockman’s hats and other historical memorabilia.
Famous for its tale of the wandering ringer – a story of a ghostly prowler that originated around the 1930s – the Prairie Hotel was a main horse change centre for Cobb & Co. coaches in the 1870s.
There’s little wonder that writer, John Larkins and photographer, Bruce Howard placed the pub on their “to-do-list” when putting together the book, Australian Pubs.
In the early 1970s, the pair 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.
One of these pubs was the Prairie Hotel. Here is an excerpt on the pub from the now out of print and much sought-after book.
“What are ya lookin’ so upset about, mate?”
“Oh, we’ve been stuck in the mud out west for about 15 hours.”
“Could’ve been worse.”
“You could’ve been stuck there the rest of ya life.”
“Suppose you’re right.”
If you can cope with this level of outrageous rural wit, then a visit to the Prairie pub in Queensland is exceedingly well worthwhile. For there is a client of this hotel, one Alan Scanlon, who actually saw the incident involving the Wild Irishman in Birdsville all those years ago.
“Yep, I was there,” he said. “They didn’t have a lockup in Birdsville those days, and the Wild Irishman had been playin’ up. So the cops arrested him and chained him to a bloody great log outside the pub.
Anyway, the sun beat down and after a couple of hours, the pub door burst open. And there was the Irishman with the log still chained to him, ‘cept he was carrying it on his shoulder.
” ‘It’s bloody hot out there,’ he said, ‘how about givin’ me a little drink?’ ”
By John Larkins.
Personalities at the Prairie Hotel, Queensland. Pictures: Bruce Howard.
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Categories: Queensland hotels
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