Two true tales of the Wollongong Hotel

Wollongong Hotel Wollongong 1970 ANU

Wollongong Hotel, north east corner of Kembla and Crown Streets, Wollongong, 1970. Picture: Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University.

A BEAUT yarn I recall about a long departed pub in Wollongong, south of Sydney, happened back in the 1980s during my employment with the now defunct Australian government telecommunications company, Telecom, as an assistance linesman.

Basically, my job involved assisting the qualified linesman, repairing and maintaining telecommunication cables. The older fellow I was assigned to assist (and drive) was just short of retirement, and well-known for ‘imbibing’ while on his rounds keeping Wollongong communicated.

Well you can imagine his (and my) joy when we were assigned to repair a cable in a deep footpath ‘pit’ outside the front door of the Wollongong Hotel, which once sat on the corner of Kembla and Crown Streets. Between passing him the required tools to repair the cables, I was also obliged to hand him a straight scotch from the bar of the Wollongong Hotel. The pit was just deep enough to keep the linesman out of public view. I think, I counted five or six glasses, before the job was complete, and we moved onto the Harp Hotel for ‘lunch’.

Wollongong Hotel Wollongong 1954 ANU

The Wollongong Hotel in 1954 when George Scott was forced back inside after dropping in for a drink. Picture: Noel Butlin Archives, Ausralian National University

Another story about a drinker at the Wollongong Hotel wasn’t so amusing – well, at least not for George Scott. George, who lived in nearby Corrimal Street, was lucky he wasn’t killed after leaving the bar in December 1954.

George was struck by a runaway beer truck, and knocked through the doorway back into the public bar of the Wollongong Hotel, where he had been enjoying a drink.

Leaving the pub, George walked out of the doorway to jump into a cab that was waiting to take him home.

The truck, which was loaded with about a dozen empty beer barrels, mounted the footpath, sending George sprawling across the bar floor. He was treated at Wollongong Hospital for a knee injury and survived to tell the tale.

The truck gorged a huge hole in the outside wall of the pub, smashing several of the familiar yellow tiles. The beer barrels rolled off the trailer of the truck onto the roadway and footpath. One followed George into the bar!

The Wollongong Hotel, established in 1901, was sadly demolished in the 1980s.

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