BILLIARD MARKER’S YARN
FOR over fifty years John Gillen has been chalking cues at Cooma (NSW). Way back in 1872 he took charge of the billiard room of the Cooma Hotel, since when he has shifted occasionally from pub to pub, but never out of the town. For the last thirty years he has marked the scores at the Australian Hotel and though now 81, still hops round the table as sprightly as Lindrum – though his cue wobbles a bit. There was a time when he played a very good stick.
– Smith’s Weekly March 19 1932
QUEENSLAND’S HEAVY BLOW.
The recent cyclone in Queensland wrought terrible destruction at Innisfail, where many people were killed, and at Cairns. Our photograph shows the Newmarket Hotel at Cairns wrecked for the third time.
– The Brisbane Courier Saturday 12 February 1927.
BRISBANE: A fire bomb caused minor damage when it exploded in the public bar of the Grand Hotel, Hughenden, in central Queensland early yesterday. No one was in the bar at the time and prompt action by a hotel boarder who used a fire hose to extinguish the fire prevented further damage.
– The Canberra Times Monday 18 April 1977
A QUEENSLAND back country publican conducts regularly what must be the world’s queerest fishing tourney. A horse trough is stocked with hundreds of tiny fish, locally known as “bobbies”. Contestants, armed with foot-long rods and tiny cotton lines and miniature hooks, baited with tiny particles of chopped up worms sit around to compete for the weekly trophy of a dozen bottles of beer. (Call-ups and enlistments have almost denuded the district of male population, and there is a resultant surplus of beer quota.) Side wagering is the practice, and local kids earn a tidy sum netting the river for the fish. Pots of beer are brought round to the contestants, and such a good time is had by all that the sport “beats cock-fighting”, a diversion which the tournaments actually superseded.
– Smiths Weekly, November 18 1944
PUBLICAN’S BOOZING HORSE
Matt Fanning, licensee of the Cooma Hotel, Narrabri (NSW), in the old days when big cheques were plentiful, had a horse called ‘Tomboy’, which he always kept saddled and bridled, and tied up outside. When the big-gun sleeper-cutters were busy inside, Matt used to ride old ‘Tomboy’ into the bar, tie the horse to the 18-gallon cask on the counter, and call for volunteers to shout him a bucket of beer. There was always more than one sport who would come at it. ‘Tomboy’ could consume more than any human I’ve ever struck. When he’d drunk all the gratuitous beer and so swelled the takings, Matt used to mix him up a good strong pick-me-up, and turn him out to revive.
— ‘Mag Pie’
– Smith’s Weekly February 19 1921
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AUSTRALIAN FATHER CHRISTMAS
A truly Australian version of Father Christmas, minus the familiar red trappings and cotton-wool beard, but complete with a swagman’s red shirt moleskin trousers and ‘bluey’, made his appearance to the strains of “Waltzing Matilda” at the annual Christmas party of the Fellowship of Australian Writers, at the Wentworth Hotel. The guests were received by the president, Mr A. B. Piddington and the hostesses for the evening, Misses Flora Eldershaw and Marjorie Barnard.
– Rockhampton Evening News December 19 1939
Part of Tasmania’s contribution to a Merry Christmas for NSW in 1953 consisted of well over a quarter of a million bottles of beer, some of which are shown being prepared for shipment at a Launceston brewery. Pictured are (from left to right): R. Lyons, M. Erced, and C. Yeates.
Picture: Davies photo: Launceston Examiner, December 1 1953
CHRISTMAS DRIES UP BORDERTOWN PUB
THE publican of the Bordertown Hotel, South Australia, waited from midnight to 8.45am at the West End Brewery, Adelaide to replenish his beer supplies, which ran out on Christmas Eve 1949.
Mr T. T. Fox (pictured right) was the first in a queue of about 50 vehicles which stretched from Hindley Street through George Street and along North Terrace under Morphett Street bridge that had queued to restock their pubs.
Picture: Adelaide News December 29 1949
CUSTOMER SHOUTS BARMAIDS
After “dispensing Christmas Eve cheer at high pressure” in 1938, the barmaids at the Carlton Hotel (Melbourne) welcomed a gesture by one of their ‘regulars’, who shouted them all drinks.
HE PROPITIATED HIM
At a Cooktown hotel the head waiter came out of the office and informed the learned and cultured clerk that a man was raising a dispute because he could not have his accustomed seat at the table. “Go in again,” said Browning saturated clerk, “and propitiate him some way – I leave it to you.” Back went the waiter to the dissatisfied boarder and said: “If you don’t like the way things is done here, you can get right out or I’ll propitiate you pretty quick.”
– Western Champion March 27 1888
POLICE DEFUSE TIME BOMB
SYDNEY: A bomb was defused by police experts underneath a hotel in Sydney’s west yesterday, forcing hundreds of evacuations from surrounding areas, a police spokeswoman said today. The bomb, under the Wallacia Hotel at Wallacia, had been attached to a timer and a motor bike battery, and a 20-litre drum of petrol found near the hotel. Telecom workers had found the timer-activated bomb at 11.57am. Police were called and ballistics experts had defused the bomb by 1.05pm, the spokeswoman said.
– Canberra Times Saturday 25 August 1990
OUTRAGE IN TASMANIA
Launceston, October 1: An attempt was made about 9.30 o’clock last night to blow up the Tullah Hotel on the West Coast. Explosives had been placed underneath the billiard room, and the report was heard nearly a mile away. Comparatively little damage was done to the Building, although the explosion was a great shock to the proprietor, his wife and child, and two boarders, who had just retired upstairs. A burnt fuse, about four feet long, was found.
– Adelaide Chronicle Saturday 6 October 1928
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Not his fault, if barman forgot
A union organiser in a Newcastle hotel the other day cornered the woman behind the bar and did his best to get her to join the union. The woman was adamant; said she had no time for unions and got along quite well without them. Asked how long she had been at the job, she horrified the organiser by admitting she had been there for 15 years. When the organiser, who was getting quite worked up at this stage, told her she might get the sack if she did not join the union, the woman did not blink an eye lid. ‘Good-oh,’ was all she said. As the union man was leaving in a huff she let him in on a piece of news — she was the wife of the licensee.
– Glen Innes Examiner September 15 1954
CAUGHT OUT AFTER HOURS DRINKING
IN the far north western Queensland mining township the local constable was a war-time cobber of the popular publican, and on seeing a light in a certain room, would drop in for a drink after hours.
It chanced one evening that there was a meeting of the leading citizens, and they adjourned practically in a body to the hostelry. A cautious knock was heard at the side door. It was the constable, who was duly admitted, to find, to his horror that the gathering included a certain J.P., who had used every endeavor to secure his removal.
There was nothing for it but bold action, and assuming his official manner, the policeman took the names of all present for “drinking after hours”.
A bank manager, unseen by the cop, had slipped behind the counter, and there crouched while his fellow citizens filed out in disorder.
“Sorry, Tom,” said the constable to the publican, “I wouldn’t have butted in if I’d known that old ‘blank’ was here. I only wanted a drink and a yarn, but had to act when I spotted the cow.”
Next morning, the bank manager was asked to take the court, being the only Justice of the Peace not among the defendants. He fined each of the offenders ten shillings, and sternly repressed, under threat of punishment for contempt, all attempts at explanation.
– Smith’s Weekly April 14 1934
THE BACK BLOCKS WAY
A traveller west of the Darling, who struck a bush pub at dusk nearly ran into something hanging from a limb outside. He went in and found the landlady behind the bar.
After a drink he asked for tucker, and mentioned that mutton-chops would go well.
“Ain’t got no mutton,” said the landlady.
“Rot,” said the man with the swag.
“Why can’t I tuck into that sheep hung up out there.”
“That ain’t a sheep” was the reply.
“That’s the old man. He hung himself last night, and I don’t like cutting him down till the police come. They’ll be here tomorrow.”
– The Sydney Sun February 6 1921
BING CROSBY’S LAST DRNKS CALL
A Melbourne publican in 1953 had a novel way of saying ‘Time, gents’ to his customers. At the stroke of 5.55pm, he played a recording of Bing Crosby’s “Now is The Hour”, and at 6pm, when pub’s were required to close, he played “So Long, It’s Been Good to Know You”.
PUBLICAN SHOUTS THE BAR
It was near closing time and the bar on Spring Hill was packed. The publican had been having a birthday and was boasting of his virtues, when a “warb”, who had been listening-in, lounged up to the counter and said, “I’ve asked the whole mob in the bar to have a drink with me; you’d take my last penny for the drinks, wouldn’t you?” “Of course, I would. I’m here to do business,” replied the publican. “Well, come on, boys,” he returned, and placed a solitary penny on the bar. “With a smile the publican acknowledged the drinks were on him
– Smith’s Weekly Saturday 31 March 1928
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SIXER THROUGH THE PUB DOOR
The Sydney Sun reported on December 20 1929, a sporting curiosity, which occurred during a cricket match between two country towns near Dungog in NSW.
Vacy were playing against Allynbrook when J. Stuckings, for the latter team, hit a sixer, the ball going through the open door of Murphy’s hotel, into the bar and knocking over a bottle of whisky on the top shelf!
BRITTONS BEER, PETERSHAM
This huge 15-tons beer container, with a capacity of 15,000 gallons, took two cranes to lift it into its new home on the first floor of British [Brittons*] Breweries, Petersham, yesterday. The beer tank which was made by Bernard Smith Pty. Ltd. stopped traffic on Parramatta Road while it was being moved into position.
– Sydney Daily Telegraph Monday 27 July 1953.
* Michael Hickey points out in our Facebook Group, Australian Pub Project, that the Daily Telegraph wrongly reported “British Breweries”, rather then its correct name of “Brittons” in the story. Brittons Breweries late became Millers Brewery.
Newspapers reported in 1948 that a number of ex-service organisations were considering cancelling Anzac Day reunions if a seven-week-old NSW beer strike was not settled. But, others had a back-up plan… The Daily Telegraph reported on Saturday April 24 that “to moisten ANZAC Day, 24,000 cans of English beer (equivalent to 200 nine-gallon kegs) had arrived in Sydney”. The cans, reported the Telegraph, would prevent Anzac Day from “being entirely dry”, and were sold to RSL Clubs. Picture shows J. Palmer with some of the English canned beer in the cellar of Tallerman and Co Pty Ltd.
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PUBLICAN’S FREE ANZAC BEER
Frank Dynon, who went through World War II with the 2/1 Bn. (Pioneers) in the Middle East, knew the thirst of the desert. He remembered the thirst — and remembered his Digger mates — yesterday. He now runs a city hotel and he turned on free drinks for Diggers on ANZAC Day. Mrs. Dynon won’t forget the day, either. It took 20 doz. Sandwiches and 15lb. of cocktail frankfurts to feed Frank’s hungry mates — and she helped to make the sandwiches.
– The Sydney Daily Telegraph Wednesday 26 April 1950.
THIRTEEN SCHOONERS IN A MINUTE
GENIAL VENIE WILLIAMS, another one of Perth’s speedsters behind the bar has a reputation for service with a smile with patrons of the Court Hotel [Perth, WA].
Venie’s theory of fast service is that the gas must be just right to allow a good flow of ale, and she considers she could pull 13 schooners any old minute in her bar.
She’d be willing to accept a challenge, and we know a lot of punters who’d back her to win.
– Perth Mirror March 16 1946.
BIG JIM’S FATAL FALL
James Gardiner was a big man. In fact, he was so big his weight caused the cellar door of the George Hotel, on the southern NSW border town of Albury, to collapse under his enormous weight. Jim weighed-in at 18-stone (114.305kg), and as he walked over the pub’s footpath trap-door one March day in 1926, it gave way, plunging him head-first into the cellar. The 62-year-old was found dead with a severe gash to his head.
This happened in Forbes back in 1914. One morning Jacky came into the bar of a pub about 8 o’clock. “Eh, Boss,” he said, “dead dog in your back yard.” He was forthwith offered a beer to cart it away, and he was not slow in accepting. About 11 o’clock Jacky was seen by the barman staggering down the main street dragging a dead cattle dog behind him. He had worked the same gag on each of the 14 pubs in town.
– Strange But True, Smith’s Weekly Saturday 6 September 1930
SAPPER “PERCY” SAMPLES BREW
Strangest mascot of the Australian Army is “Sapper Percy,” pet hawk of the 14th Field Engineers, R.A.E., in camp at Glenfield. Percy was rescued as a fledgling from a tree which was blown up by the engineers at Dapto in December. Yesterday he joined Driver Eric Edstein (right) in a drink at Resch’s brewery.
– Sydney Daily Telegraph February 16 1940
This happened at one of Parramatta’s two hotels, where, for a few minutes each day, the amber still flows [during the war-time beer shortages]. Feller arrives, plus mate. Mate plunges through bar room barrage, emerges triumphantly bearing brimming pint. Feller produces from hip pocket, empty plonk bottle. Mate hands over brimming pint, feller puts empty bottle on bar-room floor, fishes in pocket, produces ice-cream cone, inserts in neck of bottle, pours beer through cone, fills bottle. Feller eats ice cream cone – nice flavor – departs in triumph, closely (very closely) attended by mate.
– Cumberland Argus May 5 1948.
At Mr Brien’s hotel the other day, when the bar was crowded, somebody asked “Curly” Roach, one of the barmen, for a schooner of beer. “Busy?” he said, as he handed the barman two shillings. “In a whirl,” said Curly: and, giving the man his money back, struck two shillings on the cash register and started pouring the beer in the drawer.
– Adelaide News Friday 13 May 1949.
DRINKING AGAINST TIME
Habitual drinkers complain that they experience great difficulty and considerable discomfort in endeavouring to surround their usual daily allowance of booze in the time allotted by law.
The fatal hour of six draws near
When for the thirsty there’s no beer,
So Bill prepares for coming drought
Ere bar doors close and turn him out.
He’s pints behind his daily booze,
And cracks on pace to get his dues.
The time is short, the beers are long,
But Bill the boozer’s going strong.
-Melbourne Truth November 11 1916
GLORIOUSLY BOOZED BARMAIDS
THREE Kalgoorlie barmaids reportedly went for a drive to nearby Boulder in the Western Australian goldfields one autumn day in 1902 to ‘paint the town red’. The gossip column of the Kalgoorlie Sun revealed that the three women got “gloriously boozed” before going for a “lie-down” in a shed in the backyard of a Boulder pub. A “humorous yardman”, the columnist reported, locked the door and kept the women imprisoned for some hours before their “Bedlamite yells” eventually caused a kind person to release them. Unfortunately, “they lacerated the benevolent individual beyond recognition”.
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LONGEST DRINK ON RECORD
WHAT may fairly be claimed to be the longest drink on record was in evidence in a Gippsland Police Court case, The Don Dorrigo Gazette (Vic.) reported on March 1 1919. A blacksmith was convicted of stealing beer from a barrel stored in a hotel outhouse through the use of 50 feet of garden hose.
The story was told in 1889 of old Jack, a local identity, who was found in a drunken slumber in a Katoomba pub outhouse. Jack was fast asleep, with a pipe in his mouth, and snoring loudly when he was discovered in the backyard outhouse of the Blue Mountain’s pub. As he could not be shifted, a small quantity of paper was placed in his lap and set on fire. With a terrific yell, Jack woke up, and rushed into the bar using an adjective or two, yelling: “I woke up just now, and thought I was in hell!”
BARMAN SOBERLY SERVED
Circumstantial Evidence: “Were you under the influence of liquor at the time?” asked Mr. P. O’Dea, of a barman in the witness-box at the Kalgoorlie Police Court yesterday. “No, nor were you,” was the quick retort. “How do you know?” queried Mr. O’Dea. “Because I served you,” said the barman, amidst loud laughter, in which Mr. O’Dea joined heartily.
– Kalgoorlie Miner Saturday 12 December 1914
HAPPY PUBLICAN SHOUTS THE TOWN
The little gem centre of Emerald, in the central highlands region of Queensland, reportedly “went to town” after the publican’s nine-year-old daughter, who was suffering from life-threatening dysentery, was given the “all-clear”.
Milo Frawley, host of the Railway Hotel, received news that his daughter Janice was “progressing very favourably” after a wild 170-mile (274km) ambulance trip to Rockhampton Hospital through violent thunderstorms on December 1 1948.
The publican’s youngest daughter had been unconscious most of the trip and was delirious several times. There were great fears for her life.
When Frawley received news the following morning that his daughter’s life had been saved, he immediately issued an open invitation to the town to come and celebrate at his pub.
The Daily News reported at the time that only “the complete depletion of his beer stocks stopped the party”.
At the Quarter Sessions yesterday Crown Prosecutor Stevens was questioning, the bar manager of a well-known hotel. He handed the witness a picture of the public bar at the hotel. ‘Is that a picture of the public bar at your hotel?’ he asked. ‘No’, answered the witness. The Crown Prosecutor looked puzzled, turned to the judge, said: ‘Your Honor. I must have been wrongly instructed.’ Witness: ‘Oh. yes, it is the public bar. I have been looking at the picture upside down.’
-The Sydney Daily Telegraph, Town Talk Column, June 24 1947
Sam Allen, a well-known Victorian bookie, tells us that in New York he succeeded in purchasing 15 cases of ”hooch’ [illicit whisky] from a king of bootleggers [during the prohibition of liquor].
The stuff was taken to an hotel in a coffin, which was conveyed to the door in a hearse. There the ‘hooch’ was divided amongst the guests, who gave the departing spirits a great send-off.
– Sydney Sportsman November 7 1923.
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A SLIPPERY CRANK
A squatter and a stock agent stopped their car one night outside a bush pub. While they were inside a snake crawled out of the grass – and twined itself round the cranking handle.
An hour later the two travellers came out to continue their journey.
“Give her a kick, Jim,” said the agent, getting in behind the wheel.
Jim grabbed the snake’s tail and gave her a kick.
The snake slithered out of Jim’s hand and made off in a hurry.
“Hell,” gasped the grazier.
“Here, Jack,” he yelled, “give the bl*#% thing a start yourself! I suppose I’m blithered, but I could bet a tenner I saw the handle fall off and bolt across the road into that long grass!”
– Smith’s Weekly January 14 1922.
ONE of the regulars at the big bar of the Mile End Hotel is a brown rabbit. He goes to other hotels, but it’s on the Mile End’s bar that you’ll generally find him. The rabbit belongs to Sandy Mills, a Lockleys gardener, who found him alongside the road a few months ago, picked him up, and ever since has carried him in the front seat of his car, as people carry dogs. Experts say he is a Flemish rabbit. Nothing scares him. When Mr. Mills puts him on the bar counter at the Mile End Hotel, with 200 people talking and laughing, the rabbit is calmer and cooler than anybody present. He strolls along the counter, and sometimes licks the froth off a butcher of stout. He isn’t a heavy drinker – he wouldn’t drink a glass in 10 years. But he likes the froth on stout. Beer froth doesn’t attract him much. He’ll eat anything he can get his teeth into. One day he found a pound note on a bar counter, but somebody grabbed it in time. In the street he travels in Mr. Mills’s pocket.
– Adelaide News November 15 1949.
Beer at Hides Hotel, Cairns, is served in sawn-off beer bottles, coffee jars, enamel mugs, and honey jars. The manager says all the hotel’s drinking glasses have been “souvenired.” Prices for drinks range from nine pence to 3/6, according to size.
– The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) Monday 12 June 1944.
“GOT CHANGE OF A SCALP?”
Years ago, I attended a race meeting at Grabben Gullen (NSW). There was very little money about, and a cocky generally paid in scalps. Dingo scalps were 10 shillings, crow’s heads 4 pence, kangaroo rat scalps 2 pence, hares 3 pence. A cocky, now very prosperous, asked me to join him in a drink. He called for two beers, and brought out a roll of dingo scalps. Threw one on the counter, and the barman sent his boy out for change — a flour-bag of crows’ heads, rat and hare scalps.
— “Paddy’s Plains.”
– Smith’s Weekly Saturday 12 August 1922.
HAVE ONE WITH ME
The birds are tame where we hang out, and my wife keeps a basin of water on the verandah for them to drink and bath in. The other morning I went into the garden, leaving my glass of lager in the hole in the chair arm. On my return I found a sparrow having a drink of the beer, and chirping an invitation to his more considerate cobbers on the rail to come and have one with him.
– Smith’s Weekly Saturday 7 November 1925
Once came across a publican who didn’t know the difference between lager and champagne. He had taken over the hotel the previous day, and when my mate and I entered the pub he said he didn’t have any beer on draught, but there might be some in the cellar. We went below to investigate, and the first thing I popped eyes on was a case of champagne. I bought four bottles, as lager. When I arrived at the next sheep station, I let the boys into the joke, and half-a-dozens of them rode off post-haste to the hotel. They’ returned a few hours later with three, or four bottles of “lager” each.
– Smith’s Weekly Saturday 28 August 1920.
DRIVE THRU TAB
“A FEW years back you could get a haircut at the Blue Cattle Dog Hotel in St. Clair (Sydney). It also had a drive thru TAB, the only one of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.”
– Grant Kelly
– Facebook Group, Australian Pub Project, December 26, 2018.
The strangest shave I ever witnessed was performed by a country publican, who had been a barber. Following a half-shot customer’s request for a “once-over,” he began with a lather of beer-froth and finished with a spray from a soda-syphon.
– Smith’s Weekly Saturday 3 November 1923.
In the bar of Rocklea Hotel, a one-time mail coach change on Brisbane-Ipswich road, is the photograph of a bull drinking beer from a bucket. The animal was a pet of the Abercrombie family, who were connected with the hotel for over a quarter of a century. Other animals have become famous as topers in Queensland. In a Townsville hotel are the polished horns of a he-goat which used to enter the bar and rear itself up at the counter when ever it wanted a drink. If the customers were slow in shouting for it, it would use its horns in protest. An hotel on the Bowen River, N.Q., had a pet koala which drank beer. Barcaldine was the home of a cockatoo which was fond of a spoonful of brandy with its corn. This bird died recently at the age of 50 years.
– Smith’s Weekly Saturday 13 May 1939.
On the wallaby between Bourke and Cunnamulla I came across a “sun downer” sitting in the shade of a telegraph pole, on the verge of the Great Beyond. He gasped, “Got — an — o-pen-er— mate?” I thought he was delirious, but he repeated his request – “o-pen-er,” and pointed to a bottle of beer. He was dying of thirst and could not remove the patent stopper from the bottle. Luckily I always carry an opener for such emergencies, and so saved his life! — CMS.
– Smith’s Weekly Saturday 1 December 1934.
Recent press references to the death of a brawler who was shot in WA by one of his victims recalls an amusing verdict. A man on the WA goldfields was an overbearing bully, who terrorised a number of weaker men. One night he was in an hotel bar, and seized a full pot of beer from a, man whom he had consistently knocked down on principle whenever they met. The man drew a revolver, and shot him dead. Trial for wilful murder followed, and the jury filed in. Asked for the verdict the jury foreman replied: “Guilty of insecticide”. His Honor looked puzzled, then said – “Homlcide, you mean”. The foreman sturdily replied: “No… Insecticide, I said, and insecticide we mean”. His Honor refused to accept verdict in such form, so, without leaving the box, the jury unanimously found accused not guilty. — JM.
– Smith’s Weekly Saturday 22 June 1946.
CASTING KEGS BEFORE FIREFIGHTERS
Publican In a small town in NSW was recently one of the most astonished men in the country. Bushfires were raging in the scrublands; and a small band of tired men were battling desperately day and night to save their grass. The publican loaded a keg of beer into his car, and motored nearly 30 miles to treat the thirsty fire fighters. Reaching the gang, he discovered, to his amazement and disgust, that, out of the 20 men in the gang, only one was not a teetotaller.
– Smith’s Weekly Saturday 25 December 1937.
HOPS FOR HOPS
Frogs thrive on beer all right. Was running an hotel in Duchess (NQ) some years back, and one of my boarders was a big green frog. He dwelt under the counter and after closing he would come out and make a meal of the spillings. He was over six inches long and weighed just under 3lbs. — Humorosquo.”
– Smith’s Weekly Saturday 3 October 1925.
SLEPT IN HIS COFFIN
A Breeza (NSW) man recalls a one-time Central Queensland publican who had his coffin made and for years slept in it as soundly as a baby. Then his hotel was burnt to the ground and with it the coffin. He neglected to order a new “box” and subsequently died, “unprepared”.
– Smith’s Weekly Saturday 3 October 1925.
A publican friend of mine has a remarkable aptitude for figures. By memorising the registered number of motor cars he recognises friends, when passing, not by a glimpse at the driver, but by a peep at the number plate. Telephone numbers used for years past, some only occasionally, he can recall in an instant. House numbers, closely or remotely associated, are produced with the same promptitude. Something of a punter, he makes a speciality of reeling off the recorded times for principal races and can go back almost to his boyhood days. His answers are always swift and dead accurate. No book is kept of beer ticked up; Bung keeps it all in his head and never makes a mistake, despite a liberal allowance of credit.
— Ron Wills.
– Smith’s Weekly Saturday 27 July 1946.
EVERYTHING IS BONZER
DONALD NICOLSON, 64-year-old Canadian businessman, thinks Australia is wonderful. At the end of a ten-week visit, he said: “Fair-dinkum, mate, this Aussie is a bonzer country. And the girls!” Mr. Nicolson, who will return to Toronto on Thursday said that Sydney people were “grouse,” and Australian brandy “swell.” Above, served by Dorothy MacDonald, he has a tot of this “swell” brandy in a Sydney hotel.
– Daily Telegraph Sunday 8 February 1953.
THE BE-WHISKERED CHAP
Emerging from a wayside inn big-hearted Jack, a member of a fishing party, gave two shillings to a be-whiskered old chap sitting beside the steps.
The old-timer promptly dived for his purse and as he put in the two shillings Jack noticed that it bulged with notes – singles, fivers and tenners.
Said Jack: “I’d give you a couple of fish, only I don’t think there’s room for the ice in there.”
– Old Bills Column, Brisbane Telegraph August 17 1954.
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TALKING PUB CROW
BACK in the 90s the Ashley pub, a wayside inn on the main road from Moree to Mungindi (NSW) possessed a pet crow with an amazing vocabulary.
Most of the day it perched on the back of an old chair inside the bar, and was mostly silent until business was slack, when it seemed to awaken to its responsibilities and was lavish in its invitation to: “Comeandaveadrink.”
Frequently, this lured unsuspecting wayfarers inside, where a waiting barmaid was ready to do business. But the crow called once too often.
One day Tim the Tiger, a penniless thirsty soul from down Walgett way, hiked along and dumped his swag on the pub verandah, no doubt wondering if there was such a thing as a cheap drink in the offing, when he heard the invitation from within. His subsequent disappointment, however, when he discovered its origin, proved too much for him. He rung the bird’s neck.
What afterwards happened to Tim history does not relate.
– “Ngoorun,” Mosman, NSW.
– Smith’s Weekly October 19 1940.
ANTHOLOGY OF ANECDOTE
The shed had cut out. Ginger, the cook, arrived at the shanty, sweating, dusty and thankful. A crowd of shearers and shed hands had got a good lead on him, and shouts were frequent.
When a shout was on, Ginger was never in it. He loved a “Jimmy Woodser.”
As the last man was leaving the bar, after an extra big shout, he sneaked in for the seventh time, and ordered his rum.
“Flies er pretty bad,” he added. “Yes,” replied Graball, the dope dispenser, “you seem to encourage ’em.”
“Well, there’s one thing about ’em,” snapped the fiery one, and here he gulped his drink.
“They’ll stick to a man when he’s broke, an’ that’s a darned sight more ‘n you’ll do.”
– Smith’s Weekly Saturday 23 October 1920.
CITY BARMAID KEEPS TIPS FOR SOLDIERS’ HAMPERS FUND
BARMAID in a Castlereagh Street hotel, Sydney, Miss Kitty Kaine, gives tips from patrons to the Daily Telegraph Christmas Hamper Appeal. Miss Kaine has promised to give all her tips to the hamper fund until the appeal closes.
– The Daily Telegraph Friday 22 September 1944.
SANTA CLAUS blowing the froth off a welcome beer in a city hotel yesterday. Earlier he had taken three ponies to a children’s party on the roof garden of a city store. He developed his thirst handing out presents and giving the children pony rides.
-The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) Wednesday 15 December 1954.
DESPERATE TIMES & DESPERATE MEASURES
THESE desperate times call for desperate measures of relief.
There’s a paper seller in the city who’s been dashing into a pub at noon, water squelching from his sandshoes, ordering a double muscat, tossing it off in two gulps and then darting out into the rain again!
Another seasoned toper orders a lady’s waist of beer and a rum. He swallows a mouthful of beer, tips the rum into the rest of it and quietly sips it down to the bottom.
A busier type orders a rum and a middy of beer, splashes enough beer into the rum glass to fill it, bolts that down with a shuddering “Ahhhh,” pours the beer down his burning gullet and then bolts for the door.
– Sydney Diary, The Sun Monday 19 June 1950.
THE SPARROWS’ BAR
Have heard quite a lot recently about fowls getting stung. But sparrows also drink. Heating some brandy for toothache cure, I made it too hot and put it on the window sill to cool. When I turned to get it I found a sparrow imbibing freely. I didn’t like to interrupt its spree; but presently my landlady hove in sight and called me the most “immoral” man she had ever met “letting a poor innocent bird get drunk”. But the bird was happy, and fluttered away drunkenly looking for a hawk to fight. — “Leo K.”
– Strange But True, Smith’s Weekly Saturday 12 November 1921.
Fitzgerald’s circus possessed an elephant which developed a taste for beer as the result of a circus-hand’s experiment. The joker poured beer into the bottle from which the elephant had to drink in the course of his act. When next Jumbo was taken for exercise in the streets, he was stirred to excitement when he got a whiff of the hotel on the corner, and, coming none to a standstill, he reached his trunk, imploringly towards the door and trumpeted. Subsequently Jumbo had to be given a regular booze ration. — “Percy ‘ Pawnticket.”
– Strange But True, Smith’s Weekly Saturday 12 November 1921.
“What are you doing pouring beer into the gramophone?”
“I want it to sing like father.”
– Smith’s Weekly (Sydney) Saturday 15 September 1923
Beer a fine substitute for hair-setting lotion
By CAROLYN EARLE
IN the face of wrathful remarks from indignant beer drinkers, a good deal of feminine interest is being shown in the emergency trick of pouring beer on the hair as a shampoo finale.
For the benefit of those who would like to know more about it, the idea is to pour a glass of beer over the hair after the shampoo. The beer leaves the hair with more body and makes it easier to keep in contour.
For “flighty” or fine hair, which is difficult to control because it goes limp, separates in strands, and won’t hold a wave or curl as well as coarse hair, the currently favored “luxurious bundance” effect is well nigh impossible, even with the aid of a switch.
Back combing or “teasing” is one way of plumping up the strands, but fine hair can neither be teased nor brushed too much; the beer takes care of all that by its slight stiffening action.
Taking the idea a step further, if the hair is merely being combed, and not laundered, a comb dipped in beer contributes to standpatness, and detracts from the gummed-up look other setting agents often give. Finally, there is no need to worry on the score of nose-appeal — it won’t leave any odor.
– The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) Sunday 7 September 1947
Mollie Hanley, 19-year-old champion Townsville barmaid, pouring beer at the record rate of 18 glasses in 20 seconds. Townsville (Qld) drinkers nominate her to beat any girl for speedy beer serving.
– Wellington Times (NSW) Monday 17 January 1944
COUNTER LUNCHES were in great demand at this North Melbourne hotel today because of the gas rationing. Workers from nearby factories and business houses are pictured enjoying their hot meal. Barman said they expected a rush on counter lunches this week.
– The Herald (Melbourne) Monday 27 June 1949
PayPal Bar Tip
A TURKEY TRAGEDY
All nicely fattened up for Christmas, a turkey and a duck were corralled in the yard of a Melbourne suburban hotel. But just before the chopper was due for its grand descent, some night prowler got away with the turkey. Next morning the hotelkeeper found a note tied around the neck of the duck. It read: “As I have a larger family than you I took the turkey.”
– Smith’s Weekly January 21 1928
Conversation in a Sydney hotel this week among customers drifted around to the increase in crime. Barman’s contribution to the discussion was: “Not long ago I was the licensee of a wine bar in a certain suburb. Four of my best customers seemed to be decent blokes. Learned the other day that all of them are serving life sentences.” Cracked one of the audience: “Cripes, the plonk must have been crook.”
– Smith’s Weekly July 17 1948
RAFFLING SAME OLD DUCK
“WHO’LL be in a raffle for a duck?”
Every Friday night drinkers in suburban hotels are asked the question, and every Friday night they “fall.” I was one of the fallen, but I woke up this week to the trick. I was just about to repair to a neighbouring pub in search of better beer, when a raucous-voiced chap walked in with a nice-looking duck on a plate. His mate carried a book of coloured tickets. He got a shilling from me and from 20 others.
“It will be raffled at five to six,” said the chap with the bird.
A few minutes later I saw the same pair raffling the same duck at the second hotel. Tickets sold briskly and all and sundry were assured “the duck will be raffled at five to six”.
At five to six it was announced that “a stranger won the duck, “I hopped in the car for the first hotel I had visited and was told by a regular patron who was just leaving, that “a stranger won the duck”.
Diligent inquiries satisfied me that the duck had been “raffled” also in a wine bar near by. A “stranger” won there, too.
Next Friday night the duck will appear on the same plate at the same bars, but I’ll be a shilling better off.
– Smith’s Weekly October 14 1939.
The Australian Hotels Association has recommended that beer should rise in price from $2.10 to $2.15 a pot so The Riverine Herald popped over to the Palace Hotel [Echuca, Victoria] to gauge the impact.
There we found an untroubled publican, Nigel Aumann (pictured), who said he charged only $2 a pot anyway and this would not increase in the near future.
“You got to look after the locals,” Mr Aumann said.
Photo: BEN LONGDEN
– The Riverine Herald Monday 8 February 1999
OLD BILL’S COLUMN
There wasn’t a soul in the bar.
One of the men said to the barmaid, “No beer, eh!”
The barmaid: “Yes, there’s plenty of beer.”
The customer said he was surprised to see the place deserted and to discover they could get beer.
The barmaid: “It’s the little unexpected things that make life worth living.”
– Adapted from Old Bill’s Column, Brisbane Telegraph Friday 27 January
A staff man just back from Melbourne commends the trend towards civilised drinking conditions down there. Women, he reports, can now stand up with the men and quaff their beer at the bar (private or saloon) with one dainty foot on the brass rail. Counter lunches, too, are doing a roaring business — and no wonder, with fried flounder at two shillings and pie and peas for a bob.
– Brisbane Telegraph Saturday 5 December 1953.
WHEN the beer cut out at a South Brisbane Hotel at 11.45am the other day, the barmaids told the 50 odd customers who were in the bar that another keg would go on at noon. Five minutes later the proprietress came into the bar, saw the customers waiting, rapped the counter and called out to the barmaids, “Customers waiting here.” Customers and barmaids chorused. “No beer.” The proprietress had to put on a keg ahead of time.
– Brisbane Telegraph Tuesday 23 October 1951.
WHEN he walked into a Brisbane hotel bar wearing a pair of Bombay Bloomers, a chap got a terrible ragging from his cobbers. He explained that his trousers had been stolen while he was playing golf in the shorts. Suddenly two footballers among his assembled mates yelled: “Scrum round, boys!” Notwithstanding his protests and struggles the golfer was divested of his Bombay Bloomers in football style, and when the scrum broke up he was wearing the trousers that were “stolen” at the golf club.
– Brisbane Telegraph Tuesday 11 October 1949.
CAN anyone beat this? A chap had his wallet stolen in the bar of a northern Queensland hotel. The thief, who was later apprehended, used some of the money in the wallet to buy a Casket ticket, which he took in the wallet owner’s name. The police subsequently returned the wallet to the owner with the Casket ticket in it. The Casket ticket won £50. A neat legal question: Who owns the £50 — the owner of the wallet or the chap who purchased the ticket with money from the wallet?
– Brisbane Telegraph Monday 21 February 1949.
A CHAP walked into a Brisbane hotel the other day and lined up at the bar. He was such a small fellow that only half his head was visible to the barmaid. He stood there for 10 minutes without being served. Then a burly chap lifted him up and showed him to the barmaid. “I’m sorry,” she said to the diminutive one, “I thought you were his son.”
– Brisbane Telegraph Saturday 7 March 1953.
“NOW I’ve seen everything,” said a chap in a Brisbane hotel bar the other day. He had just seen another chap have the most unusual cocktail of all time. He got nips of whisky, rum, gin, brandy, schnapps, wine, raspberry cordial, cola tonic and a dash of ginger ale in one big beer glass. He took a couple of sips of the concoctionand said to the barmaid, “It’s not strong enough. Top it off with beer.”
– Brisbane Telegraph Thursday 13 May 1954.
THIS happened at Iifracombe (Central West Queensland). Outside the pub a shearer sat in the sun. In a swirl of dust a car pulled up and out stepped a man in clerical garb. “Call the boys to come and have a drink on me,” said the cleric to the shearer. As the boys (about 20 of them) were having the drink, the cleric said, “How about something for the church?” The boys dug deeply. Out of the offerings the cleric paid for the drinks, put the balance in his pocket and wished them “good-day.”
– Brisbane Telegraph Saturday 25 September 1948.
TOOWONG (Qld) man who had had a long session in a local pub with his mates found on arrival home that he had left his bicycle outside the hotel. His wife insisted that he should go back for it, but he demurred, asserting that it would have long since been stolen. “If it’s there I’ll give ten bob to the first church I pass,” he said as he set off. The bike was there, and, fulfilling his promise, he stopped at the first church and passed over 10 shillings to the minister. Whenhe reached the footpath again the bike had disappeared.
– Brisbane Telegraph Wednesday 2 February 1949.
THREE well-known rum drinkers gathered at a Cunnamulla hotel (Qld) and imbibed rum and milk until late into the night. The tired publican went to bed, leaving the three men two bottles of rum and a jug of milk. In the early hours of the morning the milk ran out.
One of the three disappeared and returned a few minutes later with a nanny goat, which he tied to a veranda post. Whenever milk was wanted he went out and filled a glass. The owner of the goat is still looking for the person who milked her dry!
– Brisbane Telegraph Tuesday 5 January 1954.
ONE day this week a chap with a hangover walked into a Queen Street hotel (Brisbane Qld) and ordered a rum. He downed it in one gulp, and almost swallowed something hard. It was a two shilling piece. Apparently it had been given to the barmaid as a tip and she had placed it in a glass – as barmaids invariably do. Anyway, the customer pocketed the two shillings and had four more rums at the next hotel.
– Brisbane Telegraph Thursday 26 January 1950.
THIS was the result of the beer shortages in Sydney shortly after World War II. A hotel in Liverpool Street sold draught and bottled beer from 10am to 5.30pm. The picture shows the congestion in the public bar at 4pm. Most Sydney city hotels had no draught beer when this photo was published in the Daily Telegraph on July 5 1949 .
DELIVERIES of bottled beer to country hotels from Darling Harbour, Sydney. The Daily Telegraph photo shows workmen loading Toohey’s beer on to a train in 1948.
THREE PENCE A PINT FOR BEER
PATRONS at Whelan’s Oxford Hotel, Darlinghurst, with middies of beer (9oz.), for which they paid seven pence yesterday, looking at signs painted on the old glass door when beer was three pence and later four pence a pint (20oz.). Mr. Harold William Thornton (right) remembers paying three pence a pint for beer.
– The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) Friday 16 November 1945.
A message from Tamworth states that the city’s thirst last year broke the record, upwards of 305,000 gallons of beer being consumed. It was stated that the primary reasons for the increase included the establishment of training camps in the district – and the extremely hot weather in the early part of the year.
– Daily Examiner (Grafton, NSW) Friday 10 January 1941.
SCOTSMAN SHOUTS THE BAR!
Sir Henry Lauder (Born 1870 – Died 1950) was a Scottish singer and comedian popular in both music hall and vaudevillian theatre traditions.
Lauder also became popular in a pub south of Sydney, while on tour ‘down under’ in 1937.
Once described by Sir Winston Churchill as “Scotland’s greatest ever ambassador”, Lauder, while waiting for his car tank to be filled with fuel, strolled into a Camden pub and – disproving a common held belief – shouted the bar.
The cost to the Scottish comedian was reported to be four shillings and six pence… a fair whack for those days!
378 GALLONS FREE
BEER GONE IN HOUR
A thousand men struggled for free beer yesterday at the Tea Gardens Hotel, Bondi Junction (Sydney).
The men stood four and five deep at the bar, and drank 378 gallons of beer in an hour. They shouted for beer, pushed, and whistled.
“Just a little christening,” said the manager (J. O’Brien). “We’ve rebuilt the pub; and I’ve turned it on free between five and six.”
– The Daily Telegraph Tuesday 13 December 1938
NSW HOTEL MANAGERS & ALLOWANCES 1951
- Paragon Hotel, Circular Quay (E. M. O’Keefe), £18/10/ a week, entertainment £5;
- Mansions Hotel, King’s Cross (P. J. Lett), £13, wife £7/10/, ent. £9/3/;
- Wilcannia Club Hotel, Wilcannia (P. J. Hunter), £8, wife £8, ent. 15/;
- Auburn Hotel, Auburn (J. W. Birrell) , £9, wife £7/10/, ent. £6;
- Bondi Hotel Bondi (C. S. Nai-smith), £9/10/, wife £8, ent. £10;
- Bondi Junction Hotel, Bondi Junction (W. J. 4 Carse) , £10/10/. wife £7, ent. £8;
- Great Southern Hotel, George St, Sydney (C. A. Channell), £10, wife £8/10/, ent. £7;
- Greengate Hotel, Killara (J. H. Hargreaves), £11, wife £7/10/, 1 ent. £5;
- Maroubra Bay Hotel, Maroubra Bay (Mrs. R C. Hammond), £14 ent. £5;
- Marrickville Hotel, Marrickville (W. E. Jones), £18/10/, ent. £7/15/;
- Royal Hotel, Randwick (F. Pfeiffer),’ £9, wife £0/10/, ent. £6/4/;
- Royal Surrey, Bondi Junction (W. H. Wright), £18, ent. £10/10/;
- Hotel Steyne, Manly (Mrs. K. List), £15, ent. £6;
- Tea Gardens Hotel, Bondi Junction (J. O’Brien), £13/10/, wife £6, ent. £7;
- The Cecil, Cronulla (Mrs. E. Creet) , £15, ent. £4.
– Source: The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) Tuesday 11 September 1951
AN AMUSING BEER CASE.
The other day a man was working among the cargo in the hold of a steamer at one of the Brisbane wharves, and the goods included four hogsheads of Tasmanian beer.
The second mate whose duty it was to protect the cargo, came into the hold, and found the man lying on one of the casks.
There was a gimlet (A small screw-tipped tool for boring) hole in one of the barrels. There was a beautiful amber-coloured liquid issuing from the afore-said aperture.
Some amusement was caused in the Police Court afterwards by an attempt being made to prove that the man in the hold stole beer, because at the time the mate went down his mouth was not many inches away from the opening in the cask.
The accused said he did not own the gimlet. He told the mate he knew nothing about the hole. Both man and hogshead were given over to the police.
Upon the evidence adduced the bench failed to see any proof that the man had drunk any beer, which brought counsel for the prosecution to to his feet with the remark that it would take an emetic to do that. Opposing counsel rejoined that then the beer would have to be identified.
The bench was not satisfied that there was proof that any beer was missing, but the climax was reached when counsel for the defence asked whose property the beer then was? No one seemed to know. Result – case dismissed; beer still at the police station – or rather it was before the New Year.
– Warwick Examiner January 8 1902.
THOSE WERE THE DAYS
One of the bush traditions which seems to have been forgotten in these days is that of “the ring of beer”.
A man who had a cheque to knock down would arrive in the bar and call for “a ring”.
Mr. Public House would set nine full mugs in a ring on the counter, and the drinker started to work round the ring.
After the first three mugs were empty, the publican also started round the ring, filling the empties, and then it became a race to see whether the drinker could overtake the publican, or the publican catch up with the drinker.
The loser had to pay for the beer, and it was admitted that a man had to be pretty good to beat a publican who knew his job.
– Smith’s Weekly Saturday 19 December 1936.
BAD BREW FOR BEER WOGS
New infectionfighting drugsare are helping to make better beer. Polymyxin, one of the more recently discovered antibiotics, is is now used by brewers.
One of the problems of the brew-master is that of keeping unwanted microbes out of the fermentation vats; the bacteria may crowd out the alcohol making yeasts and thus stop the brewing process, or secrete acetone or other unwelcome substances into the brew.
Only a tiny amount of polymyxin is needed to prevent such contamination – approximafely 6 grams for every 3,800 litres of brew. So small a concentration is reported to have no effect upon the quality or taste of the beverage – or the beer drinker.
As a matter of fact, even this small amount is removed by filtration before the beer is bottled. But it is usually more than enough to keep the yeast working free of competition from other organisms.
– Adelaide News Friday 3 September 1954.
HOPING to shame offenders, this verse stood in the bar of the London Tavern, Regent Street, Redfern during the war years. Photo: The Sydney Daily Telegraph October 24 1945.
ARE PERTH’S BARMAIDS TOO PRETTY?
Novel suggestion that men linger over a final drink at hotel closing time because Perth barmaids are so young and attractive is put up by a Melbourne visitor, who says that 22 years ago Victoria banned the registration of new barmaids on the ground that they entice men into hotels.
Flattering as this might be to Perth’s female bar counter brigade, real beer drinkers declare that a foaming pot is far more attractive than a barmaid’s smile.
Nevertheless our Melbourne visitor points out that conservative Victoria is only now considering lifting the 22-year-old ban on the entry of new barmaids into the trade solely because of a shortage of male labour. However, the Victorian Chief Secretary (Mr. Bailey) is clinging desperately to tradition by recommending that no woman under 30 shall be licensed.
– Perth Sunday Times Sunday May 17 1942.
HIS CHRISTMAS CUSTOMER.
A genial and hospitable innkeeper posed as Father Christmas. An enormous pork pie graced the bar counter, and customers were invited to help themselves.
One Christmas Eve a stranger walked in. Sat down, and cut off a huge slice. Half an hour later the man was eating as ravenously as ever, and the landlord could stand it no longer.
“You’ll excuse me, sir,” he remarked, tapping him on the shoulder, “but I don’t seem to remember your face. You’re not a customer.”
“Pardon me”, was the polite response, as the stranger helped himself to another slice, “I was here last Christmas Eve, and – with his mouth full of pie – “if all goes well I shall be here next!”
– Adelaide Chronicle December 16 1922.
A SLICK CHICK
BUSSELTON, in the south-west of WA has an unusual chicken which drinks beer as its main food.
Known as Georgina Thigwell Johnston, it is a white leghorn owned by the licensee of the Ship Hotel, Busselton.
Each night it sits on the bar counter and consumes a liqueur glass of draught beer.
The cook of the hotel has a £5 bet that she can raise it on a beer diet and so far the chicken has proved that claim and is the biggest of all the chickens in the hotel yard.
It keeps aloof from the other fowls and sleeps alone in a special box.
– JSB (WA)
-The World’s News Saturday 5 January 1952
TEMORA BEES ON THE GROG
A SWARM of bees at the Temora railway yards in NSW reportedly went on a spree in October 1950!
The bees, the Burrowa News reported, swarmed into an empty 18 gallon beer keg, and under the influence of the powerful fumes, became rather tipsy.
Many crawled out of the bung hole in such a state of helplessness that they were killed by the sun.
Although many apiary experts can quote unusual instances of bees swarming, they had never heard of them taking to the grog!
BEER AS A FIRE EXTINGUISHER.
A YEAR after Jingellic’s Bridge Hotel opened for business in 1925, a bushfire threatened the small town in the South West Slopes region of NSW.
The story goes that in February 1926, it was beer that saved the pub from the flames.
The fire destroyed one of the pub’s wooden outbuildings before those fighting the blaze found that the pump attached to the underground water tank was busted.
In a last ditched effort to save the pub several kegs of beer were then cracked open, and the beer was used to keep the fire in check. When the flames were beaten, the beer that was left over was placed on the verandah for the benefit of the fire fighters.
BEER ON THE HILL
Getting ready for half-time at the football matches. Men dragging barrels of beer yesterday morning up the hill to the bar alongside the scoring board at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
– The Sydney Sun Sunday 22 June 1924.
BROTHERS KEEP BARRELS ROLLING
Two brothers at Springfield Brewery certainly know how to roll out the barrel literally. They’re Louis (right) and Henry Foureur, aged 79 and 76, respectively, both of Clapham (SA).
Louis has been a cooper for 64 years and Henry for 61 – and they’re still on the job.
Henry is a full-time cooper, but Louis has been in the despatch department for the past four years. He takes over as cooper when Henry goes on leave.
Louis said today, “Coopering has become a lost art to a certain extent. In my time it was all hand work, but today machines are used and it doesn’t requirie much skill.” He can remember drinking wine since he was six years old, and he still has a couple of pints of beer at work each day.
“If you drink in moderation it won’t hurt you,” he said.
“We know how to take it and when to stop.”
His father – the first champagne-maker in SA had been a methodical drinker, but he lived to 94.
– News (Adelaide) Monday 18 August 1952.
According to many people an essential part of Christmas cheer is beer. Yesterday this dray load of barrels of beer was moved in preparation for the Christmas trade.
– Newcastle Morning Herald Saturday 22 December 1945.
BARRELS OF FUN
‘Roll out the barrel’ — and the beer drought’s on the run. Mr B. Kelly, of Braddon (pictured), cellarman at a city hotel, unloads draught beer yesterday.
The drought ended for some Canberra hotels and all clubs when the first consignment of beer from Sydney in over a fortnight arrived.
A brewery workers’ strike caused the drought. The delivery, which came by rail, was for hotels serving Reschs beer and all clubs.
The first consignment of Tooheys beer and another batch of Reschs is due today. Bigger than normal crowds of drinkers turned out yesterday. Tooheys hotels were still serving bottled beer yesterday but have been told they will receive supplies for several days by rail this morning.
All hotels and most clubs had been serving bottled beer since last Friday, though some clubs had received private supplies of Victorian and South Australian draught beer.
Supplies should be back to normal by early next week.
– Canberra Times, Thursday 23 November 1967.
ON HIS HEAD
Among the numerous records claimed by the wild and woolly west is that of a man in Perth, who can make beer run uphill faster than anyone else in the world. He does it standing on his head, and claims the Australian championship. He is Jimmy “Tich” McCann, a little old chap who earns a living round Perth as a bootblack.
Most people know him at least by sight, but he also has a gift that brings him much applause and quite a little alcoholic refreshment.
For Jimmy can drink pots of beer standing on his head. That’s not all. He is game to bet he can drink them faster than any other man in similar posture.
There’s no stage management about Jimmy’s little stunt. He just up-ends himself, supports his feet against a handy wall, and then takes hold of a full pot and makes it run uphill.
There’s only one stipulation Jimmy makes about pots he drinks upside down. The person desiring to witness the phenomenon must pay for the pots.
– Adelaide Mail, Saturday 27 September 1930
NO HIDDEN TREASURE
The thief who slipped out of a Warwick hotel on Saturday night with two suit cases belonging to a boarder found a surprise awaiting him when he examined the contents. The cases contained 60 left-footed rubber shoes. They were the samples of a commercial traveller. The suit cases and shoes were discovered yesterday under Helene-street Bridge, where they had evidently been tossed in disgust by the thief.
– Warwick Daily News (Qld) Monday 3 October 1932.
A TEMPORARY WIN
The most interesting race in Leeton, NSW, at the present time is the one between the new courthouse and the first pub, both of which are in course of erection. The hotel looks like winning by a temporary bar, so the first batch, of drunks will have to be tried in the old butcher’s shop, which is the present police station.
– Smith’s Weekly (Sydney) Saturday 24 May 1924.
Any port in a storm, they say: but the queerest place I ever saw a pub located was in a fowlhouse. It was at a little township out from Ipswich (Q), and when a fire destroyed the building, Mine Host hunted the chooks up the trees and collared their quarters during rebuilding operations.
– Smith’s Weekly (Sydney) Saturday 6 December 1930.
At one time a recognised place of call for Cobb and Co.’s coaches, the Melbourne Hotel, Kelso (NSW), recently taken over by Havilah Uren, the boxer, is probably the oldest existing hotel west of the Blue Mountains, having been built just on 94 years ago. When the late Humphrey Oxenham was living at Bathurst he won a wager of £10 by carrying an enormous pumpkin on his head, with out hand help, from Duke’s Hotel, Bathurst to the old Melbourne – over a mile and a half.
– “Gum Leaf.”
– Smith’s Weekly (Sydney), Saturday 25 December 1926.
IN OUT OF THE HEAT
Think of this you pampered city folk. I was standing one day last month on the pub verandah of a joint called Mossgiol, situated between Booligal and H…. It was 110 degrees in the waterbag and the dust was having its second glorious day, being stacked up everywhere. Presently along the verandah wandered a very fat sewing machine traveller, well off his beaten track, and dripping with perspiration. We rubbed our eyes, had a decent look at one another— then he, remarks confidentially, “By jove, old chap, a cove is lucky to be here. I think, the weather must be pretty rotten outback to-day.”
It took a dozen pots to revive me.
– Wider & Wilder, Smith’s Weekly (Sydney) Saturday 15 June 1929.
Slung my bluey at a wayside pub and pratted, my frame into the barrel of tar. There were a couple of sheep barbers jumping their horses over the counter and a beer hum was having one with the files. Long ago he had swallowed his turnout and now he was on his uppers. I nodded to a couple of well-borers who were buying the boss’s daughter a pair of boots, and incited them to keep one down. One asked for a deep sinker and the other a halfcast; I had a nor’west impossibility. We yarned a while about the frog and toad and then we downed a couple more, after which I ambled out. Slinging matilda, I slung them a “so long,” and then took my hook, padding the hoof on to sundown. The last I saw of the rubblety tub was a blue haze on the horizon. I have not felt right since.
– Wider & Wilder, Smith’s Weekly (Sydney) Saturday 24 June 1933.
MEATS: Roast rabbit, corned goat, curried galah.
VEGETABLES : Cabbage saltbush, warrigal spinach, pigweed salad.
SWEETS. Stewed quandongs. Dogs’ jews’ harps.
That isn’t a menu that I sampled at a bush camp, but at a wayside pub; and it is not unusual in the far west when supplies run low in dry times, as during a drought, and all local stock, except goats and rabbit’s, are away on agistment or travelling for feed. The dogs’ jews’ harps are currant dumplings that serve as puddings when sugar is scarce. The fruit of the quandong is gathered in large quantities in season, and are stoned, dried, and kept for future use. In emergencies, the dried fruit is ground to a fine powder and used as a substitute for flour, a wrinkle learnt from the blacks.
– Wider & Wilder, Smith’s Weekly (Sydney) Saturday 12 December 1936.
LOVED HIS ENEMY
Judged by the sentiments scrawled on the wall of a derelict, delicensed pub, near Bruthen (Vic.), some wandering nomad bears no grudge against the cause of his downfall:-
Beer kills the brain. Inflames the spleen;
Excites a thirst; that’s always keen;
It’s the rotten’est stuff, I’ve ever seen;
Yet I like it.
It’s cleaned, me out of every bob;
Lost me a wife, a home, a job;
And sent me forth, to rook and rob;
But I like it!
– Wider & Wilder, Smith’s Weekly (Sydney) Saturday 24 August 1929.
FAIR GO, MATES!
MY old mate, Bill, a quiet sort of cove until you got his goat,
was standing outside a pub during one of the most popular beer sessions, and three civilians, who had had enough booze to be disagreeable, took exception to Bill’s answer that he didn’t smoke when they tried to bite him for some weed.
Civvies were looking for trouble and kept on chipping Bill and calling him a liar.
Finally Bill was driven to action. Calmly, and without rancor, he sailed into the three. He dropped one first hit with a beautiful left rip, dropped the other with a right almost as quickly, and disposed of the third also in record time. He looked at them lying dejectedly on the ground. “Let that be a lesson to ,you coves. Next time give a man a fair go! Three on to one! Tch, tch, I don’t know what blokes are comin’ to these days!” And Bill walked off, sadly shaking his head.
– C, Sandgate, Qld.
– Smith’s Weekly (Sydney) Saturday 17 May 1947.
While working on railway construction between Mackay and Rockhampton (Q.), I came across a navvies’ camp, where “Alligator Jack” brewed beer and sold it to the workers at six pence a mug. After two mugs the drinkers had to sit down as their legs would not support them; then Jack would carry the beer round to them. They always had to sleep it off before they could leave the camp.
– Wider & Wilder: Smith’s Weekly (Sydney) Saturday 14 April 1934.
WANTED THE TIME
A mob of travelling cattle were moving quietly past a wayside pub on the Hoganthulla (Q.), and the publican, whose rounded form suggested a beer barrel, was standing by the horse-rail admiring the beef. A bullock with turned-in horns eyed him for a moment, and then charged. Bung leaped backwards just in time, the curved horn brushing his vest as the beast sheered aside. Bung joked about it when the drovers called for refreshments, but after they had gone he missed his watch and chain, and suspected an old fellow of taking it. He rode after him and suggesting that in his hurry to go with the mob the old chap might have mixed things up, invited him to unroll his swag. The veteran treated the suggestion and invitation as twin insults. Just when a fight seemed imminent the drover-in-charge made a discovery. He had noticed that one of the bullocks was wearing something bright against its ear, and a close-up proved it to be the missing watch.
– Wider & Wilder: Smith’s Weekly (Sydney) Saturday 24 January 1931.
FROM BENEATH THE BAR
WHEN a brand new type of drunk appears in a land not noted for teetotalism, that’s news. From beneath Kalgoorlie’s Criterion bar last week there swaggered a bleary-eyed, swashbuckling mouse. Hiccuping slightly, it lurched around the room, brusquely elbowing cash customers aside and generally behaving like a perfect cad. Noticing the rodent’s ugly mood, barman Allan Leonard diplomatically hoisted it on to the bar where it couldn’t stamp on any one’s corns. The animal pottered about amongst the pots for a while and then sat flexing its muscles belligerently. Climax came when the mouse invited the hotel cat to come outside. The mouse went swiftly inside.
– Peepshow, By Kirwan Ward, The Daily News (Perth, WA) Friday 26 September 1947
AFTER 119 years of service to the village, township and now city of Launceston, Tasmania, The National Hotel closed down. When first built in 1835 The National was known as The Coach and Horses. Tasmanians were fond of their pint in those days. In 1840 there were 40 hotels in Launceston. One sign swinging outside a hotel read, “Robin Hood is Dead and Gone Come and Drink with Little John”. Many quaint names were in use then such as The Jack Swan, Help Me Through The World. The Good Woman, The Jolly Burden, The Babes in the Wood. It is a pity our modern hotels show such poor
– R.H. (Tas.).
– The World’s News Saturday 11 September 1954.
DARWIN’S termites are gaining fame. The recent news of their destruction of £300 worth of beer stored in a galvanised iron salt-strewn shed reminds a Cairns (N.Q.) resident of another incident of 20 years ago. He was then proprietor of the old Terminus Hotel, Darwin, now pulled down, and one morning discovered that a set of ivory snooker balls had been completely bored out by the voracious termites. Only an outer shell-like husk remained. Wooden legged men have to keep on the move in Darwin.
– The World’s News Saturday 7 January 1939.
DANCING A JIG
AN old character who was well known in Brisbane, some 40 years ago, old Jack Wake was an honest, harmless fellow. Only five feet tall, Jack would walk to town with a sugar bag slung over his shoulder and a tin whistle in his hand. At intervals he would stop, play a tune, put his old battered felt hat on his head, upside down, and dance a jig on the pavement. His specialty was a couple of carpet pythons, which he carried in the bag. Wandering into a hotel bar, he would ask for a drink “on the house”, and, if refused, would empty the snakes onto the floor, causing a scatter amongst the patrons. He usually got the drink. He would then wind the big reptiles around his neck and body, and fondle and kiss them. Grocery and drapery stores were also visited, but the police would be called should he begin his tricks, and scare the customers. He was a great mimic, and could imitate most birds and animals. He disappeared during the First World War.
– J.K.H. (Qld).
– The World’s News Saturday 21 August 1954.
IT is doubtful if any real Australia food is ever served these days in country hotels, yet a few years ago many purely Australian dishes were quite common. At a little hotel at Wyndham, on the South Coast of NSW, wallaby-tail soup was often on the menu. Wallabies were a pest in the district and the publican often bought wallaby tails from men who shot or snared the wallabies. At many little bush pubs satin-bird pie or parrot pie was often on the menu. Along the Murray River at one time there was a hotel that became famous for its Murray River turtle soup. These fresh-water turtles were plentiful, and many good judges considered that the soup made from them was even better than the more famous turtle soup made from sea turtles. In the north-west of NSW and some parts of Queensland, wild goat meat was frequently on the menu, and while the wild goat is not a native of Australia, they were a pest in some parts and many considered that the flesh of a young goat was just as good as lamb. Galah was also a common enough dish in the northwest, but the galahs were pretty tough and not popular with travellers. When hares were plentiful on Southern Monaro, some of the hotels had baked hare on the menu, and it proved very popular. Rabbit was never a popular dish in country hotels, possiblv because they were regarded as a pest and also because so many rabbits suffered with hydatids. In the days before many of our native birds were protected, brush turkey, plain turkey and wonga pigeon appeared on the menus at a number of country hotels. With kangaroos troublesome in many parts there seems no reason why the travellers should not enjoy a kangaroos steak or kangaroo tail soup, while kangaroos rissoles are fare nicer than any other rissoles that I have eaten.
– Eureka (NSW)
– The World’s News Saturday 25 December 1954.
PASSING a Castlereagh Street pubbery the other day, I saw the following printed slogan on its tiled wall: “Stick around here and you’ll get the best beer.” It brought to mind a slogan pasted on the bar wall of an hotel at Ayr (N.Q.), which ran thus: “I sell for cash and sell no trash, to lend is very risky, for he who trusts and doesn’t bust, puts water in his whisky.” Another one read: “I don’t ask the banks to sell my beer – don’t ask me to cash their cheques.”
– The World’s News Wednesday 17 June 1936.
BEER WAS FREED BY FLOOD
GRAFTON, Tuesday.- Although flood water was in his home to a depth of several feet, Mr. Charles Richards, of Bacon street, Grafton has some consolation in the frangipanni tree outside a window is a full nine gallon keg of beer washed from a hotel cellar. A case of good apples was washed on to the verandah.
– Newcastle Morning Herald Wednesday 28 June 1950
A TALE OF SCALPS
In the days when kangaroos and wild pigs were as plentiful as rabbits now are further down the river scalps were reckoned an interchangeable commodity. Kangaroo scalps
were then six pence, and pigs three pence, and an old hand tells us that it was not an uncommon thing for a thirsty bush-whacker to slouch into a way-side pub, call for a long beer (the cost was then three pence), plank down a kangaroo scalp and receive a pig scalp for change. This is vouched for as a true bill.
– Wellington Times Thursday 25 September 1902
UNUSUAL PUB NAMES
WHEN it comes to originality in pub names, Victoria seems to have a lead on other States. Every town in the Commonwealth has its Commercial; and there are numerous Globes, Crowns, Royals, Railways, Victorias, and Palaces in every district.
But here is a collection of unusually named hostelries, and all in Victoria: Lord of the Isles, Ocean Child, Queen of the West, Young Queen (all in Geelong); Horse and Jockey (Orford); Military Arms, Bunch of Grapes (Ballarat); Brewery Tap (Warrenheip); Seven Creeks (Euroa); Blue Duck (Omeo Highway); Hilltop (Omeo); Brian Boru, Bull’s Head, Five Lions (Bendigo); Buck’s Head (Drysdale); Saracen’s Head (Melbourne); Sarah Sands (Brunswick); and just out of Ballarat is a hotel named The Barb — I think it is the only hotel in Australia named after a Melbourne Cup winner.
– “Trevdee,” Elsternwick, Vic.
-Smith’s Weekly (Sydney), Saturday 19 October 1940.
ANOTHER OLD LANDMARK DOOMED.
Tattersall’s Hotel, Parramatta, which is now being demolished to make way for a modern and imposing structure. This well-known hotel has been presided over by many licensees, the best-remembered of early proprietors being the late John Creasey.
– The Cumberland Argus (Parramatta,) Friday 15 July 1927
OLD GLOUCESTER HOTEL— AND PREVIOUS FLOODS.
In the early days the height of flood waters used to be marked on the lamp post in front of the old Gloucester Hotel. The present day Hotel and the roadway are two to three feet higher.
– The Gloucester Advocate (NSW) Friday 15 February 1929.
ROOM No. 13 DEATH DROP
Harry Dillon, 46, who crashed 40 feet to his death from the Baden Powell Hotel, Redfern, on Saturday night, had occupied room 13 in the building. Police do not know whether Dillon fell or jumped from the window of his bedroom on the third floor. He suffered fractures of the skull, left hip, and a multiple fracture of the left arm. Sgt. Godfrey, of Redfern, is trying to communicate with relatives.
– Labor Daily (Sydney), Monday 28 November 1938.
CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS SAVE PUB
Not many bush pubs owe their existence to the local Band of Hope, but one on Queensland’s north coast line does. Practically all of the town’s youth were ardent members of the band, and all had gone to a big rally at a township 20 miles away. Arriving home after midnight they found the store ablaze, and the adjoining pub threatened: A bucket brigade was organised, and the pub and contents were saved to the spirited singing of “Onward Christian Soldiers.”
– The Charleville Times (Brisbane, Qld) Thursday 1 March 1951
GOING DRY: OUTBACK PUBS CLOSE DOWN
The flying motor has helped in the ‘drying up’ process of the far west. The shearer and bush worker no longer lingers at the old familiar pub, and as a result the outback ‘bung’ is finding it harder than ever to keep the beer pump going. In the Brewarrina district, where the sun shines hotly, two licensees have decided to put up the shutters, and the long dry stretch in more parched than ever.
– Mudgee Guardian Monday 31 October 1932
FAMILY OF HOTELKEEPERS
The Martin family, of Nyngan, hold what we should say constitute a record in hotel-keeping by the one family. Mr and Mrs Martin, senr, control the Court House Hotel, Nyngan, and the following sons are very popular bonifaces: Mick, Imperial Hotel, Trangie; Jim, Imperial Hotel, Nyngan; Walter, Railway Hotel Wyanga; and Ernest, Royal Hotel, Elouera.
– Dubbo Dispatch Tuesday 20 June 1922
An hotel in Bowral (NSW) for long had a sign bearing the biblical inscription:
“Come unto me all ye that are thirsty.” Ultimately a fuss was made in church circles, and it was removed.
Lines inscribed on a slab of a wayside pub, near Bright, Gippsland:-
“One swallow does not make a spring.
If you believe that story, come
With me into the bar and try
One swallow of this fellow’s rum,
Then you are sting and acid proof
If you don’t spring clean through the roof.”
The “Green Gate Inn,” at Orange, used to display the sign of a green painted gate, with the couplet:-
“This gate hangs well and hinges none,
Refresh and pay, and travel on.”
– Smith’s Weekly (Sydney), Saturday 2 August 1919
The following, according to the Sydney Sportsman newspaper, were said to be the printed rules and regulations of a well-known Parramatta pub in 1912:
OUR TEN COMMANDMENTS
1. When thirsty thou shalt come to any house and drink. Thou shalt honor me and my barman, so that thou may live long in the land and continue to drink at my house for ever.
2. Thou shall not take anything from me unjustly, for I need all I have, and as much more as I can get.
3. Thou shall not expect glasses too large, or glasses too full, for I must pay my rent.
4. Thou shall not sing or dance, as it is not allowed on the premises.
5. Thou shall honor me and mine, that then may’st live long and see me often.
6. Thou shalt not break or destroy any thing in my premises, else thou shalt pay for double the value. Thou shall not care to pay me in bad money, “cronk” cheques, tobacco tags, nor ever say the worrd “chalk” or “slate”.
7. Thou shall call at my place daily; if unable to come, I shall consider it an insult unless thou sendest a substitute or an apology.
8. Thou shall not offend thy fellow customers, nor cast base insinuations upon their characters by hinting that they cannot drink too much.
9. Thou shalt not take the name of my goods in vain by calling my beer ‘slops,’ as I always sell the best the market affords, and am always at home to my friends.
10. Thou shalt not so far forget thy most honorable position and high standing in the community as to ask the barman to “shout”, but thou may’st “shout” for him or me often.
CANBERRA BEER MAT SOLVES PROBLEM
Since the early days of the establishment of the Australian capital, souvenir hunting has been a problem in Canberra. During the first large building programme, builders complained bitterly of the loss of bricks which axe produced In the Government Brick Works hear the city, and which bear the distinctive word ‘Canbeira.’ In hotels and guest houses similar problems have to be met as the replacements of linen, silver and china are heavy. Many Canberra hotels are now endeavoring to solve tlie problem by the use of small beer-glass mats, made from absorbent paper board and bearing a sketch of the Speaker’s Chair in the House of Representatives. Although recently introduced, the demand for this novel souvenir is very heavy, and hotel-keepers report a corresponding decrease in losses of spoons, etc.
– Daily Advertiser (Wagga Wagga, NSW), Tuesday 21 May 1940.
BOY BOOKMAKER IN HOTEL
HOBART, Thursday. A 14-years-old boy pleaded guilty in the Children’s Court to-day to a charge of having bet illegally at the Talbot Hotel (New Town, Hobart) on November 5. He was fined £1. Detective-Inspector Fleming said that on a bar in the hotel the police found a doubles betting card on races run that day at Moonee Valley. The card odds were 10/ to 3d. The boy admitted that he was taking bets in spite of a warning from his father not to do so. The boy undertook not to repeat the offence.
-Newcastle Sun (NSW), Thursday 17 December 1936.
SWALLOWS WITHOUT SWALLOW
Maryborough (Qld) boasts a champion who can sink 12 pints of beer while the clock strikes 12 and still has ample time to wink at the barmaid! Owing to a disformity of the throat he is minus a swallow.
– Smith’s Weekly (Sydney) Saturday 9 July 1927.
BEER MAKES THEM GROW
By FRANK CLUNE
THEY say beer is harmful. Well, it’s a lie!
Ten years ago Mungindi (NSW) Shire planted 100 silky oak trees along the main street, including one outside Billy Smith’s pub.
Billy’s barman took to watering the tree roots with the beer slops.
Believe it or not, that silky oak is now a lusty giant, 12 feet high, while the other 99 beerless trees are stunted and withered. So long!
– Smith’s Weekly (Sydney) Saturday 24 August 1940.
“Mulga” was a practical joker, but the mixed group of soldiers and civilians in the hotel bar were not to know that. All they saw was a pleasant looking Digger, who walked in, breasted the bar, and said: “When I drink, everybody drinks!” There was great delight on every face as the barmaid filled ’em up, and the boys grabbed their glasses. Then “Mulga” put his hand in his pocket, slammed sixpence on the bar, and said: “And when I pay, everybody pays!” — “Jayem,” Sydney.
– Smith’s Weekly (Sydney) Saturday 8 May 1943.
Knew of a pub in Queensland called “The Beehive Hotel”. Under its hive sign was this:
“Within this hive, we’re all alive,
And busy making money.
If you are dry, step in and try
The flavour of our honey.”
To which a hard-up tramp added:
“I am dry, but I can’t try
The flavour of your honey.
If I go in your bees will sting,
Because I have no money.”
– Smith’s Weekly (Sydney) Saturday 16 August 1919.
In a certain NQ township there is a hotel which flaunts a gaudily-painted sign: “The White Australia Hotel.” When I entered the bar for the first time I was surprised to find that the publican was Dutch, the groom a Kanaka, the cook a Chinese, and the waiter a Jap.
– Smith’s Weekly (Sydney) Saturday 5 July 1919.
“Why do you always raise your hat when you pass this spot?”
“It’s where the old pub that got burnt down stood.”
– Smith’s Weekly (Sydney, NSW) Saturday 16 March 1935.
A 1950 sign in the bar of an Adelaide hotel read:
Two pints one quart.
Two quarts one quarrel.
Two quarrels one fight.
One fight two police.
Two police one magistrate.
One magistrate two months.
CALLED TO BAR – 750 IN BEER RUSH
Crowds rushed a new brand of beer sold cheaply at a Lewisham hotel yesterday afternoon. They stood seven deep around the bar, and at one time there were 750 demanding a drink. Over 30 18-gallon casks had been drained by 5pm. Police tried but failed to get the drinkers into a queue.
– The Sun (Sydney, NSW) Sunday 11 January 1931.
70 YEARS OLD AND ONE LEG, BUT….
On a charge of assaulting Flora Murray, Francis Slattery, a one-legged 70-years-old man, was bound over to be of good behavior at Parramatta Court yesterday. Evidence was given that Slattery had asked the woman where the nearest hotel was and when she informed him that he had had enough to drink, he hit her across the knuckles with a crutch.
– The Labor Daily (Sydney) Saturday 12 November 1932.
AN EXTRAORDINARY FATALITY
As a result of a mysterious explosion in an outhouse at the Court House Hotel, Wyndham street, Shepparton, Mr Charles Dealey, a well known farmer of North Mooroopna, was killed instantly. He was in Shepparton last Friday, with his wife doing their customary Shopping. The explosion was heard throughout the neighborhood, and Mr Dealey was found dead with the whole of his left side shattered. Mr Dealey recently had been using gelignite for removing tree stumps on his property, it is presumed that he had a plug of that explosive in his left-side vest pocket and that it accidentally exploded.
– Murrumbidgee Irrigator (Leeton, NSW), Friday 2 September 1932.
HOTEL LICENSEE’S DEATH.
A verdict of suicide was returned by the City Coroner yesterday at the conclusion of an inquest on William Edward Holliday, aged 59 years, the late licensee of the Occidental Hotel. Deceased was found dead in the lavatory of the hotel on May 18 with his throat cut and a razor in his right hand.
– The Sydney Morning Herald Friday 28 May 1920.
BEER LOVERS, DRINK BEFORE YOU TALK
Beer drinking is an art. One of its chief tenets lays down the principle that beer is to be drunk, not looked at. A man who went to the General Gordon Hotel, Sydenham, on July 18, to quench his thirst realises the truth of this now. His glass of beer was in front of him, waiting to be drunk, when three men entered the bar. One of them, unable to resist the appeal of the bubble, in the glass, lovingly encompassed the glass with his fingers, and then encompassed the beer with his throat. Now, the things that are defined as jokes between men are legion. But drinking another man’s beer is no joke. Rather it is a crime. It is not surprising, therefore, that the bar became the venue of lively happenings. So lively did they become that Edward Clarke, a son-in-law of the licensee, assumed the role of ejector in-chief, and the three buttes-in were butted out. Doubtless, imbued with the desire to consume more waiting beer, the trio tried to return to the bar. When their invasion was repulsed they bombarded the hotel with stones, damaging the windows and doors. Only two of the trio could be found afterwards. They appeared before Mr. Gates, S.M., at the Newtown Police Court on Wednesday. George Franklin (23) and Joseph De La Carde (20) were fined £1 each, and ordered to pay £2 10s damages. In addition De La Garde was fined £5 for assaulting Clarke, and was ordered to pay £7 7s, the amount of Clarke’s medical expenses, a brick having injured hit head.
– Truth (Sydney, NSW), Sunday 2 August 1925.
BEER WITH A WALLOP
THE increase in beer prices has given a new lease of life to the home-brewing craze. The wife of a Sydney pressman said she would agree to beer being brewed as long as no wheat – the stuff that supplies the kick – was put In with the stewing hops. Husband agreed, but surreptitiously tossed in a handful of grain; and, not knowing that, the lady’s brother, Bill, sneaked in and sup-plied another handful, while her dad, who was grieved at his daughter’s tyranny, did likewise. The unsuspecting lady, reflecting in quiet moments, relentingly told herself that, after all, beer without a kick was not much good, and she added her handful. There was a party given when that beer was ripe for consumption; and that liquor had a kick like that of a mule. When a party that had strewn itself all over the house and gone to sleep in its clothes under the potent effects of that wallop woke up in the morning it wondered what had happened.
– Smith’s Weekly (Sydney, NSW), Saturday 19 April 1941
PULPIT & PUB
A QUEENSLAND publican was mystified by a phone call from a well-known cleric requesting, as a special favour, half-a-dozen of lager for the entertainment of a visiting dignitary. The hotelkeeper inquired if the half-dozen was extra and additional to the usual weekly lot, which had been supplied for the past eighteen months. This query drew from, the clergyman a spirited denial that, he had ever received liquor of any sort from the publican previously and a declaration that he was, in fact, a teetotaller. As all the beer had been sold on a cash basis there had been nothing to arouse suspicion of the resourceful citizen who, by posing as an accredited messenger of the cloth, had been receiving a regular ration of bottled beer, a source of supply which would have continued but for the chance arrival of the visiting cleric.
– Smith’s Weekly (Sydney, NSW) Saturday 1 October 1949
BARMAID’S COSTLY ERROR
A BARMAID in a leading Sydney hotel has acquired a nice collection of precious stones together with the reputation of being an excellent judge of them. Recently a well-to-do regular customer requested her to purchase a pair of diamond ear rings as “a gift for a friend.” He left the selection entirely to her own taste and judgment, but the price was not to exceed £50. The barlady readily accepted the commission, and was specially delighted with a particular pair — but the price was £65. However, as she had jumped to the conclusion that she would be the recipient, an arrangement was made with the jeweller. She paid £15 out of her own purse and had the ear rings forwarded to the purchaser, in voiced £50. Later, when she saw the trinkets adorning the ears of a rival barmaid at the same hotel, jealous rage overcame her discretion, and she blurted out the truth about the transaction.
– Smith’s Weekly (Sydney, NSW) Saturday 3 February 1940.
WHEN THE BELL CHIMES
BY arrangement, the hotelkeepers in a New South Wales coastal town take their closing time from the church belfry, which rings the Angelus at six o’clock. The other day, the bell-ringer, having been refused a drink at one of the hotels, got even by ringing the bell at a quarter to six.
– Smith’s Weekly (Sydney, NSW) Saturday 1 July 1933
KEEPING THE WEEDS DOWN
THERE’S a policeman in a North Queensland coastal town who makes sure that the weeds are kept down in his back yard. The cell for prisoners occupies a portion of the yard, and whenever the weeds got too thick he wanders around the only hotel in the township after hours and collects a drunk. The latter is lodged in the cell, and in the morning is given a nip of rum and told that as soon as he has chipped a certain area of weeds he will be discharged. Many’s the drunk has owned up to having helped to keep the policeman’s yard free of weeds.
– Smith’s Weekly (Sydney,NSW) Saturday 31 August 1929.
‘SARGE’ PUTS ONE OVER PUB ‘BOOKIE’
THE police claim to have “put one over” the defendant in a country court case recently. He was charged with using the premises of a hotel for betting, and books containing records of transactions found in his possession were tendered as evidence. On a technical objection, the magistrate dismissed the information. Not to be outdone, the prosecuting sergeant asked the bench to make an order for the return of the books. The magistrate agreed, and they were handed over, much to the disgust of the defendant, who had hoped to escape payment of his liabilities to his clients through the confiscation of the books. A number of those who had picked winners were in court to hear the case, and immediately defendant walked out they demanded payment of the wagers. And they were paid.
– Smith’s Weekly (Sydney) Saturday 9 March 1929.
KNOCKED BUNG FROM KEG
Two small boys on holidays in Whyalla (SA) last week, committed the unforgivable sin of knocking the bung* from a barrel of beer at the rear of one of the hotels. The manager said later that he would not have minded if they had broken a window or a door as the damage would be covered by insurance, but to knock a bung from a barrel of beer was nothing short of a tragedy.
– Transcontinental (Port Augusta) Friday 17 January 1947.
* Bung: The stopper and/or tap that plugs the outlet of a beer barrel.
BEER profits are still prolific (writes our Sydney correspondent). Tooth’s report for the six months ended March 31 shows a profit, including £33,424 brought forward, of £215486. Although the man in the street calls these beer profits, the brewer produces only part of them. Tooth’s have long dealt in every line in the hotel trade, and the company owns a considerable number of Sydney pubs, but the brewery is the back-bone of the great money making concern.
– Nambucca and Bellinger News (NSW) Friday 8 May 1914.
NIGHT IN GAOL OVER PRANK
SYDNEY, August 22: The wild west, in the New South Wales style, came to life again last week, when a kangaroo shooter rode his horse down the main (and only) street of Tottenham, right into the town’s only hotel bar. Still mounted, he rode right up to the bar and ordered for drinks, but the bartender called for the police. Until the “sheriff” came dashing in, other drinkers in the bar took little or no notice of the stranger. Both the stranger and his horse spent that night in the local gaol house.
– The Maitland Daily Mercury (NSW) Friday 13 June 1913.
TWO MINUTE XMAS
PERTH, Thursday. The most curious Christmas experience in Western Australia was that of a Fremantle man, who breathlessly entered a hotel at 2pm, drank a beer at 2.1pm, and was on his way to hospital at 2.2pm. He had failed to notice that the bottle-top was in his glass and swallowed it with his beer. It was removed at the hospital. Doctors added insult to injury by placing him on a wrong sort of fluid diet for 48 hours.
– The Sun (Sydney, NSW) Thursday 26 December 1940
DEADLY PUB FIGHT
WHEN two blokes headed out for a fight in the yard of the Royal Hotel at Cowra (NSW) in November 1903, one was destined to end up in the morgue. In a strange incident, Pat Hughes, 24, was taken to the hospital with severe head injuries after a pub argument turned violent. However, it wasn’t his argumentative opponent that dealt the lethal blow. A horse, tied to a fence, kicked out during all the excitement, landing the deadly injury to young Pat.
The body of Edward Acres Barrington, aged 72 was found in an outhouse of the Royal Hotel, Gunnedah, recently. Deceased had engaged a balcony room at the hotel, and investigations lead to the surmise that during the night he fell from the top of the stairway leading to the yard and received injuries from which he died.
– The North Western Courier (Narrabri, NSW) Thursday 18 April 1929.
SO THAT’S BEER!
Under the above heading an Eastern States paper publishes the following message from Wollongong: “Years ago you could get a good pint of beer for threepence. Now for ninepence you get glass bottom, froth top, and the middle taxation. – A speaker at a Wollongong public meeting.
– Albany Advertiser (WA) Monday 3 April 1939.
An English benefactor of humanity named Townley Searie, founder of the Pub Users’ Protection Society, has invented an instrument which he calls a ‘beerometer’ for measuring the frothy “collars” on beer glasses. It is a graduated plastic measure which, can be carried in the pocket, and which the drinker places vertically alongside his glass or pot. Graduations on the “beerometer” show whether a publican is making excess profit, ranging from three-farthings upward, from the froth. The inventor does not explain how the customer is going to get a refund for the “collar.”
– Worker (Brisbane, Qld) Monday 1 April 1946.
ADELAIDE: When a beer truck swerved at Port Adelaide two 36-gallon casks and ten 18-gallon kegs spilled over the roadway. A young man rushed into a shop, bought a cup, and held it under a leaking barrel. Wholesale price of the lost beer was £73/18/10.
-Goulburn Evening Post (NSW) Wednesday 24 November 1948.
SO HE DRANK
Thus are good stories wasted … “It was after six,” said the witness, “but the door of the bar was open. I went in and saw a mug of beer standing on the bar, so I said, ‘Who owns this beer?’ but he did not answer so I drank the beer. “I was just finishing it when the ‘jacks’ arrived and took my name – That’s dinkum.” But an unsympathetic magistrate fined the licensee for selling liquor after hours just the same.
– Truth (Sydney, NSW) Sunday 11 September 1927.
EXPLOSION IN A HOTEL
MACLEAN, Wednesday.— Shortly after midnight the town was disturbed by an explosion. Investigation showed that a charge of dynamite had been exploded under the bar of Lynch’s Cosmopolitan Hotel. The culprit had entered under the floor, which is a few feet above ground, and placed the dynamite against the wall of the cellar under the bar. The wall was loose, and not connected with the foundations, so it was blown in without serious damage to tbe buildings. The shock did some damage in the bar and cellar. No motive for the act or clue to the perpetrator has been discovered. The police are investigating.
– Sydney Evening News Wednesday 18 June 1902.
“OLD SHACK” IS NOW A LEGEND
By BOB CHAMBERS
Everybody in Kalgoorlie knows – or knew -“Old Shack”; he is the district’s strongest legend. “And So Goodbye” (17/7/52) might well have described that famous character. Like most legends the legend of “Old Shack” misses some of the essentials – whatever his real name may have been, for instance. He was a bottle-oh or carrier – or both – and he was famous because he had more than 300 convictions and all of them for drunkenness.
The number differs with the teller of the legend. Once it was more than 400, but has never been less than 300. “Shack’s” horse was equally famous. If “Shack” failed to re-turn to the cart, towards evening the horse would amble along and turn into the police-station yard to join his master. It became a monotonously, auto-matic procedure, so that by-standers who saw the horse passing would say: “Old Shack’s in again.”
His host of convictions and his horse’s fidelity – they are the two strong points of the legend, told so often that they are, almost confirmed local history. But there is the tale – probably untrue – that when another who loved his beer too well reached his 200th conviction, “Old Shack” became anxious about holding his record.
Others say unkindly of the Force that “Old Shack” had so many convictions simply because he was easily rounded up by the police whenever they wanted any work done around the station – and he was a good worker, they add. It is said, too, that a gold-fields publican still has “Shack’s” “last will and, testament,” written by “Shack” in the bar and bequeathing to the publican his estate in exchange for a brimming pot of beer, given in advance.
“Old Shack” has been dead for some years, but his legend will keep him in Kalgoorlie for a long time yet – a friendly, beer-loving but forgetful character for whom the police had a soft spot.
I asked at the station once to see his record card to confirm the number of convictions. “You going to write something about him?” asked the constable. “I was thinking of it.” “He wasn’t a bad bloke, you know. You’ll make it look all right for him?” “Of course,” I replied. But the card couldn’t be found and I didn’t pursue the matter. So it’s left to the legend.
– West Australian (Perth), Saturday 2 August 1952.
A barmaid in a city hotel screamed today when she found a rat sipping beer from a dreg container. Despite her fright, and while clambering on to the bar, she threw her swab at the rat and trapped it in the container. A customer rushed behind the bar, grabbed the container and carried it to the street where he destroyed the rat. Then he left for the Perth City Council with the corpse to collect a sixpenny bounty.
-The Daily News (Perth, WA) Wednesday 24 July 1946
These Hotel Signs
A sign in a country hotel read as follows:
* In order to prevent the guests from carrying fruit from the table, there will be no fruit.
* If you want the bellboy, ring a towel.
* If you get hungry during the night, take a roll in bed.
* No immortality allowed in the rooms.
* Guests on retiring at night will leave their money with the clerk, for he will get it anyhow.
– Albany Advertiser (WA) Thursday 29 February 1940
BEER FLOWS FREELY.
A report in an evening paper on Tuesday that a barman in New Zealand had pulled 4320 beers in one day, has caused quite a lot of argument among customers at the United Service Hotel at Cessnock. Many say it It an impossibility. However, we understand that Bill Young, who has had 34 years’ experience on the beer tap, is to isssue a challenge to the New Zealander. Bill reckons that if the New Zealander can pull 4320 beers in a day, he can pull 4321.
– The Cessnock Eagle (NSW) Thursday 10 April 1952.
* Pony is NSW’s slang for a seven ounce glass of beer. White Horse was a brand of beer.
PINT GLASSES REAPPEAR
A NOVEL solution of his glassware troubles has been found by an outback publican in whose districts troops are quartered. Having lost Innumerable pots and glasses through breakages and ‘souveniring’ and unable to secure adequate replacements, he decided to serve his beer in pickle bottles. One particular brand holds 12 ounces — the equivalent of two glasses of the size normally in use. It costs one shilling. Diggers found drinking from the short, narrow-necked bottles a tricky business at first.
– The Daily News (Perth, WA) Thursday 25 March 1943.
-Yours, &c, A Unionist.
– Worker (Brisbane, Qld) Saturday 25 June 1898.
It slithered down the stairs again and tried to enter the bar before it was ejected. As many as 17 cows have been seen roaming the streets of Deniliquin at night, and Alderman Walters had his garden damaged recently by one of them. The council has given orders for cows to be impounded.
– Daily Examiner Saturday 11 July 1936.
The licensee of an hotel in Exhibition street was charged with allowing a drunken person to remain on the premises: Inspector Oliver alleged that a young woman was taken to the hotel by a man, who induced her to take brandy, .which made her mad, and she climbed out of the window. Evidence for the defence was to the effect that the woman was known as “Mad Fanny.” The charge was dismissed.
–The Newcastle Sun Tuesday 3 March 1953.
FREE BEER !
Street cleaners envy their opposite numbers down in Tumut, that picturesque and, slubrius town, which expects to be a city some 25 years hence when the Snowy River project nears completion.
In that shire a very old custom prevails.
The street sweepers are entitled to call on every pub they pass (or don’t pass) and there are seven pubs there, and have one beer per man at the pub’s expense. Very nice, too, on summer
days. There are no vacancies on the street cleansing staff at
– Molong Express and Western District Advertiser (NSW) Friday 4 January 1952.
Woman Makes Hotel History
MISS DOROTHY HARTIGAN is the first single woman in NSW to be granted a hotel licence. Single women were previously ineligible for licences. Miss Hartigan has never tasted liquor.
– News (Adelaide) Friday 4 October 1946.
IN the latter years of the depression, my father Ernie and his younger brother Ron Swan, came up with an idea to make a few bob by organising a raffle with a duck as the prize.
The problem for the enterprising Swan brothers was that whilst having the initiative to organise the raffle and some raffle tickets, neither their finances nor intentions extended to providing the lucky winner with a duck of the feathered variety.
The winning ticket was held by Mrs Luscombe who, with her husband operated the Bulli Family Hotel (near Wollongong, NSW).
The ever resourceful brothers obtained a crate used by the local shop keeper to transport breakables and wheeled it, with Ron inside, to the hotel. Mrs Luscombe was then presented with her prize “Duck Swan”, a nick-name that Ron (Uncle Duck) carried proudly till his untimely passing.
– Barry Swan (C. 1996)
Pubs and entertainment
PUBS were the principle venues for entertainment early last century.
From simple singalongs between coal miners at the bar, to paid musos belting out favourite songs of the era on the piano, the pub was the place to be entertained prior to the popualrity of licensed clubs in the 1960s.
Some “localised scribble” in the late 1990s from an anonymous 77-year-old correspondent recalls the days of the pub entertainer at Bellambi Hotel in the 1940s.
“I have been living here, near the hotel for over 50 years and remember a young man entertaining customers at the hotel every Saturday. There was lots of singing between the radio broadcasting of horse racing, while the bookies were taking bets. The bookies were always keeping a watchful eye for police raids.”
The Piano player, named “Ted”, lived nearby and he was paid by the publican with a bottomless mug of beer, which always sat in arm length on his trusty instrument.
Ted used to play in Sydney for the Soldiers during the war before they left for Europe. “Oh how the miners loved the old time songs, a lot of singing and dancing till closing time at 6pm.”
With the rise in popularity of licensed clubs in the 1960s new venues were built to accommodate the entertainment needs of the people of the northern suburbs.
Pubs were replaced by clubs during the 1960s as places to be entertained on weekends.
Stately Grieve & the Harp Hotel
CRAMPED and outdated, the small Wollongong coaching inn, known as the Harp Hotel, had outlived its usefulness by the mid 1880s.
George Clout took the reigns of Wollongong’s oldest pub in 1883 and during his ownership the pub developed an unenviable reputation as one of the township’s rougher establishments.
The local Licensing Inspector, Senior Sergeant Grieve was known as a tough cop who ruled with an iron fist. He tried unsuccessfully to have the Harp closed in June 1885 after branding Clout an unfit publican who ran a disorderly house.
The stately and solidly built Sergeant told the Magistrates that Clout conducted the Harp badly, drunken persons were allowed to “knock about the place at all hours” and the pub opened illegally on a Sunday.
Complaints had been repeatedly received about drunken men insulting passers-bys and that many of the larrikins congregated at the intersection of Crown and Corrimal Streets he argued in his case to close the old pub.
The Harp was a tough pub to operate during these times with the Illawarra railway works in progress and hundreds of men employed on the monstrous labour intensive project frequenting its bar.
Clout had around 15 of the contractor’s men boarding at his pub, although not sleeping there, they made it their base and, of course, their recreation venue. On weekends many of the navies would pitch their tents in the hotel yard and head for the bar for a heavy drinking session. Arguments were frequent and Clout had his hands full trying to keep order.
Opened in 1839, the Harp was an important public building in the developing little town of Wollongong. The Campbelltown Mail Coach arrived and departed from the house with a passenger booking office situated in the pub’s yard. The Coachman, who lived on the premises, would leave the pub for the overland trip to Campbelltown Railway Station to collect the Illawarra’s mail. Many gathered there to receive news from the outside world.
Grieve’s concerns fell on deaf ears in 1885. The court heard that the host had never been convicted of any offence during his sojourn at the pub and the case was dismissed.
Clout remained as host until 1886, later becoming an Alderman on the Lithgow Council and conducting a hotel in the Maitland district.
The little inn’s days, however, were numbered and the license was cancelled because of the “dilapidated condition” of the premises in 1891.
A new pub replaced the old inn during 1893.
OUT THE BACK FOR A FIGHT
In the “old days” it was considered the best way to sought out differences in the pub was to head outside for a fight. Often they would turn into a circus, with bets being placed and set times organised for the tussle. This was the case in one of Bulli’s early watering holes during March 1880. The Black Diamond Hotel (1876-1889), on the South Coast of NSW, wasn’t a place for the faint hearted, with hard drinking, tough coal miners frequenting its bar. A fight between two men, Robert Crompton and Richard Covil [Cavil], arose from a quarrel on a Saturday night in the Black Diamond’s assembly room. At 9am the next morning the two men confronted each other for 15 shillings a side in “Campbell’s Paddock”. The 48 rounds were fierce and savage, both men covered in blood, with “the bigger man” taking the pickings. The crowd of 50 onlookers had no worries about their entertainment being interrupted with the local constable being sent on “a wild goose chase”. He was told the fight was to be held on the Bulli Pass – a couple of kilometres away!
Sly Grog at Otford
ANN Brewer, in custody, charged with sly grog selling at Otford, pleaded not guilty… Senior-constable Henry stated that he and Constable Saunders went to the defendant’s tent, and saw her serve a woman with some rum, and also heard the woman ask the defendant to have some herself; he saw defendant pour the rum out of a black bottle, and saw the woman pay a shilling; defendant said: “You will want all the money you can get to pay your fine”; the woman replied, “Never mind”; defendant then said, “Well leave it there”; we then entered the tent, and asked defendant if she had a license; she replied, “no; this woman brought some rum in, and we divided it; you will not find any rum in the tent”. We searched the tent, and found half a bottle of gin and two other bottles (produced), with rum in; the defendant had been convicted before, and has the reputation of keeping a shanty. By Mr. Muir: I had been in the adjoining tent before I entered the defendant’s; I decline to answer whether I asked this woman to go and get a drink from defendant; I also decline to state who told me that defendant had a bottle of rum ; the woman in the tent searched the defendant. Constable Saunders deposed: I heard voices inside the tent, also glasses being used; I heard the female inside the tent ask for drink, and also heard the money jingle on a tray; the senior constable and I then entered, and saw two empty glasses; I smelt the glasses, and one contained rum; we searched the place and found the bottles produced, containing liquor. Constable Streatfield stated: I arrested the prisoner at Otford; she was secreted in a house and locked in a room belonging to a person named Gardiner; I started to search the house, when Mrs. Gardiner said ‘All right; wait a moment;’ and then went round tho back and unlocked the door; defendant then, came out; I read the warrant to her, and she replied ‘The vile hussy; she has put me away; she is a sneaking serpent in the grass; I got out of my bed and gave her some rum, and she gave me a shilling… I have received several complaints about the defendant’s tent being very badly conducted, especially on Sundays. Defendant stated: I know Mrs. Gardiner, who lives with a man who was convicted for sly grog selling; she came to my tent late last night, and said she was dying, would I give her a drop of rum ; I gave her a small drop, and she threw down a shilling ; I said ‘Take it home, woman; I will not have it I could get plenty money washing for the miners, without selling grog; I have the gin in the tent for my own use, and the rum for making sauce for my boarders; I never told her to leave the money; I never handled the money; I was once treated the same as I am now, but not in this district. Fined £30, or two months in Wollongong Gaol, the alternative being accepted.
– Illawarra Mercury Saturday 22 May 1886.