Short & Sweet: Pubs in the news


SIXTY pigs in various stages of intoxication were seen recently in the village of Bozen in the canton of Aargau, Switzerland. The pigs were being taken to a slaughterhouse at Bale in a motor lorry, when the vehicle skidded and crashed into a great vat standing by the roadside, containing about 4000 gallons of new wine.

Some of the animals were thrown into the vat, where they made the best use of their opportunity for a free drink, while the others wallowed in a miniature lake of wine in the road. The cost of this Bacchanalian episode was £250.

The above reminds writer of the fact that one, Ned Loonam* years ago conducted the ‘Farmers’ Hotel’, near the Railway Station at Windsor, N.S. Wales.

Those days the Municipal Ordinances were not so stringent as they are today. Ned Loonam had many pigs in the commodious yard attached to the hotel property, and he used to keep the washings of the glasses, and stale beer for those pigs in summer time — mixing a little bran or pollard with same when he “handed it out to the gruntors”.

One hot day he took down the usual “liquor ration”, emptied same into the troughs, and left. The day was an exceptionally hot one, and Ned took down another “drink” for the pigs later in the afternoon.

When he arrived at the pig yards, he found them all lying down, and fast asleep. You know there’s a lot in common with the human and the ordinary pig, when all is said and done. Ned woke the grunters up. They tried to rise, but fell down again and again.

One old sow rose up, sat sideways, and eyed Ned Loonam for a moment or two, squealed loud and long, and then fell over on top of a beautifully intoxicated porker. The squeals of that porker were heard distinctly at Richmond — four miles distant.

The writer does not know whether Ned Loonam is in the flesh today, but if he is he can vouch for the correctness of the statements we have made. The site that the old hotel to which we have referred occupied in those days now has upon it a Home for Old Men.

It is not always that out of the drunken squeals of pigs — human and otherwise — is erected some useful help to poor frail humanity. In this case a very fine Institution has risen on the ashes of beer, rum, whisky, brandy, and grunts.

Ned Loonam was a witty Irishman, with a big moustache, a big and kindly heart, and a bump of humor that tickled the natives of the Hawkesbury in the yean gone by.

– Wingham Chronicle and Manning River Observer, Friday 10 March 1933

* EdwardNed’ Loonam’s pub was the Farmers Hotel, which closed in the 1890s, and was located “near the Windsor Railway Station”. Edward Loonam was host of the Farmers Family Hotel from 1888 until 1892. The pub closed in 1894 and its license transferred to the Commercial Hotel, Windsor. Interestingly, the old Farmers Hotel was originally an old men’s home, which later became the Railway Hotel in 1866. The pub was later renamed the Farmers, before its closure in 1894, and the building returning to its original use as an old men’s home. Ned Loonam died at his daughter’s residence in Strathfield, Sydney on September 17, 1941 at the age of 83. 


THE discovery of a two-man illicit still at Ingham (N.Qld), for which the State collected over £500 in fines, only emphasises the fact that, scattered throughout the Dago north are plants for making “lunatic soup”, which show quite a good return. The late Sergeant McLaughlin, of Gordonvale, is reported to have discovered one just prior to his death, while the Mourilyan police searched — with more or less success — for several “factories” hidden among the farms. At Babinda, where the State hotel is up against illegal private enterprise, the strength of the “soup” sold after hours is enough to knock a bandicoot straight-legged again.

Secret History, Smiths Weekly, January 25, 1930


DURING the recent big fire in Murwillumbah (NSW), when an hotel and eight other business places were gutted, some small boys got possession of a cask of beer that had been rolled out of the hotel with other property during the conflagration. Sneaking the prize away from prying adult eyes, a few hours later, their parents were shocked to discover them very much “under the influence.”

Secret History, Smiths Weekly, November 16, 1935


TO win a bottle of beer, a swagman in the Burnett (Qld) district offered to walk up and down the main street on stilts. He was knocked down by a dog, and broke his right leg, so the lads in the hotel bar took up a subscription, and when he came out of hospital he was given £6. He spent £4 of this buying presents for the nurses, and put the other £1 into lottery tickets, one of which drew a £100 prize. With this he paid a deposit on a small farm, and today has a comfortable home and a wife and child. He says he owes it all to the dog.

– Secret History, Smith’s Weekly, June 1, 1935


AT irregular intervals two Port Melbourne wharfies brought a keg of spirits to a local publican, and, after sampling, received payment without being asked any questions. During the strike the two wharfies were superseded by volunteers, and the bootlegging ceased. Recently they called at the pub and hinted that they were back at work, and would look in during the evening. The keg was sampled – and paid for. Next day the hotelkeeper was mystified when the flow of whisky ceased before half a dozen nobblers had been drawn. Investigation showed that a pickle bottle full of whisky had been attached ingeniously to the inside of the bung hole, and the rest of the keg filled with water. 

Secret History, Smith’s Weekly, June 14, 1930


A hotel bar was the setting, and six thirsty men, each facing 10 large mugs of beer, were, the “subjects”, of a sound film made at Lithgow. The film was made by a cameraman, who is touring the State for unusual photographs and unorthodox events. He certainly achieved his objective. The drinkers were given 10 minutes to consume about 10 pints each, and they exceeded the limit only a few seconds. Needless to say, the number of men anxious to be featured in such a film, far exceeded the number required.

– Grafton Daily Examiner, Wednesday 3 August 1932


HOW prosaic are the names and signboards of Australian hotels nowadays compared with a generation or two ago. In those days two neighbouring hotels in Fitzroy (Vic) were noted for their unique sign boards. The board of one, the Labour in Vain, depicted a black boy in a tub and white men trying to wash him white. The Perseverance Hotel opposite had a similar sign, except that the blackboy’s back revealed the smallest of white patches. In Carlton (Vic.) the window of the Young Queen Hotel contained a portrait of Queen Victoria. A signboard depicting a turbaned head with a fiercely whiskered face stood sentinel over the old Saracen’s Head Hotel, Melbourne, for many years. At Port Melbourne is the delicensed All England Eleven Hotel, which had a sign showing cricketers at play. A full-length portrait of a man in naval uniform was erected over the Admiral Hotel, Melbourne. In Carlton (Vic.) were the Apple Tree Hotel and the Lemon Tree Hotel. The figure of a stork adorn-ed the Stork Hotel, Melbourne. — H.O’R. (Vic.).

– The World News, December 24 1955


THE police claim to have “put one over” the defendant in a country court case recently. He was charged with using the premises of an 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.

– Secret History, Smiths Weekly March 9, 1929


ON the afternoon of last election day my mate and I were strangers in a strange town on the Hay line. It was a hot day and some were dying for a pot. We thought we would give the one and only hotel a try. After sneaking in the back way, we found not only the bar door open, but also the bar full of thirsty souls and three men serving. After waiting our turn, we eventually got our pots and were about to sink them, when in walked the local John, displaying a note book and pencil. He started at once to take names, and it was not long before our turn came. We put our names down for a couple of bob each. He was collecting for a presentation to the local sergeant. We enjoyed those pots and a couple more. Had a good time at the sergeant’s social and presentation the following Friday.

– Secret Garden, Smith’s Weekly, December 29, 1928


IN the Northern Territory there is an ordnance forbidding the importation of liquor into the Territory, except to the hotels. This rule was made when the Government sold its three pubs to private enterprise, and thereupon guaranteed to protect their charges which are a good deal over southern prices. That the authorities meant it was shown not long ago when a humbly-paid clerk, on the eve of his wedding, had a case of wine presented him from the south. This was publicly seized, and a warning issued that he could be fined up to £500 plus imprisonment! More recently another person was fined £50 for bringing up some whisky. However, the other day a richly-endowed high official openly got a case of wine from below — he having received a “concession permit” from his own department.

– Secret History, Smith’s Weekly, October 20, 1928 


ONE of the “scholars” at a two-up school, held in a de-licensed hotel on Flemington Road (Melbourne), went home for more funds. He arrived just in time to receive a message that his father, a local J.P., was wanted urgently at the watch house. He went with the old man, and looked on while his 48 schoolmates were bailed out. What he values most is the praise Dad gave him for turning over a new leaf.

– Secret History, Smith’s Weekly, March 14, 1931 


ITINERANT dentists visiting country towns usually display a notice in the local pub, informing the public that on a specified date they can be consulted at the hotel. One Victorian dentist pulls up outside the pub and waits to see if a patient arrives so as to avoid paying the small charge for a “dental parlor.” He has even been known to pull a tooth standing in the back of his car with the patient sitting in the front seat.

Secret History, Smith’s Weekly, September 6, 1930 


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ON a tour of inspection of West Queensland properties over which his institution held mortgages, a big financial gun struck a town. When leaving, he wished to reserve accommodation for his return trip, but was told the hotel was booked out, as it was Show and Race Week. He asked to see the booking, and after scanning the list drew a pencil through half-a-dozen names. “They won’t require accommodation,” he said. His prophecy proved correct. Each of the six received a hint from headquarters that their right place during these depressing times was on the station.

– Secret History, Smith’s Weekly, December 3, 1932


STILL chuckling over an experience he had lately is the country traveller for a Brisbane time-payment firm. He struck a thriving settlement at show and race-time, and, having had good luck at the races and poker school following, retired to his room in the hotel with a well-filled wallet. Before he had undressed there was a knock at the door, and, on opening it, he beheld the proprietor who wanted to know whether the commercial would consent to a belated new arrival sharing his room for the night. Agreeing, he permitted his brain to work quickly, and while Bung and the new guest were having a final spot he went over to the second bed, and, lifting the mattress, put his precious wallet underneath it. He slept well, and was up bright and early; and as his room-mate seemed still wrapped in slumber, he went over, put his hand under the mattress, and retrieved his property. “Gorstruth, is that where it was?” followed him to the door.

– Secret History, Smith’s Weekly, February 16, 1935


SELLING out of an hotel which had practically ruined him, a North Queensland hotelkeeper’ arranged it so that, among his own personal effects, some of the most valuable of the hotel fittings got boxed. He was unlucky in his, choice of a victim, however, for the incoming licensee was an ex-constable. His suspicions aroused, the new owner traced the cases to the railway station, where he seized them and threatened legal proceedings. The publican left everything in his hands.

– Secret History, Smith’s Weekly, March 10, 1928 


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VICTORIAN hotel brokers should be compelled to disclose the projected activities of the Licenses Reduction Board. One inexperienced buyer recently put over £2000 into the purchase of a country hotel lease, only to be told by the chairman that the L.R.B. would sit in that district this year for deprivation purposes. The brokers concerned had omitted to mention this fact, and the buyer is now faced with the possibility of losing the greater part of his capital.

– Secret History, Smith’s Weekly, March 10, 1928 


THERE lives in Melbourne a smart youth who often tells the story of how he “put one over on the police.” Arrested by a member of the licensing police for being on hotel premises after hours, he gave the name of Tommy Dodd and the address of a well-known horse trainer. When later a policeman called at the address given and requested an interview with one, Tommy Dodd, the trainer-proprietor of the stables, greatly, puzzled, led the way to the horse quarters, where he presented Tommy Dodd to an astonished policeman. Tommy Dodd was a racehorse.

Secret History, Smith’s Weekly, February 11, 1928


ON the afternoon of last election day my mate and I were strangers in a strange town on the Hay line. It was a hot day and some were dying for a pot. We thought we would give the one and only hotel a try. After sneaking in the back way, we found not only the bar door open, but also the bar full of thirsty souls and three men serving. After waiting our turn, we eventually got our pots and were about to sink them, when in walked the local John, displaying a note book and pencil. He started at once to take names, and it was not long before our turn came. We put our names down for a couple of bob each. He was collecting for a presentation to the local sergeant. We enjoyed those pots and a couple more. Had a good time at the sergeant’s social and presentation the following Friday.

Secret Garden, Smith’s Weekly, December 29, 1928


A VICTORIAN country publican, whose doors were closed by order of the Licenses Reduction Board, tells an interesting story of his lawyer’s “service”. Retained originally to show cause why the hotel should not be delicensed, counsel charged 21 guineas for a part-day appearance, and later wrote stating that he had made strong representations to the L.R.B., and had agreed on the licensee’s behalf to accept the amount of compensation offered. He again wrote that there was no possibility of having the amount increased and strongly urged its immediate acceptance. Ignoring this advice the publican enlisted the aid of a young layman with the result that the amount of compensation was increased by £150.

– Secret Garden, Smith’s Weekly, August 17, 1929


THE police claim to have “put one over” the defendant in a country court case recently. He was charged with using the premises of an 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.

Secret History, Smiths Weekly March 9, 1929


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DURING picnic race week at a NSW country centre, accommodation at one hotel was so taxed that the bathrooms were reserved for ladies and a temporary shower enclosed with hessian, installed in the pub yard for male guests. A local solicitor who boarded at the hotel had proved such a nark that the lads laid for him. Watching him enter the temporary bathroom they grabbed his pyjamas when he hung them over the wall of the structure and then set fire to the hessian. For the rest of race week the legal light was not seen.

– Secret History, Smith’s Weekly, September 10, 1932


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

– Secret History, Smith’s Weekly, August 31, 1929


AT a recent gathering of learned gentlemen in a Melbourne hotel, the conversation was formed on very abstruse lines. In the midst of philosophic discussion, one extremely technical point of fact was in question. It was decided that the matter should he settled immediately. One learned gentleman looked around vaguely for an encyclopaedia, and not finding one, he approached the hotel clerk who was ardently polishing his nails behind a desk. “Is there an encyclopaedia in the hotel?” he inquired. The clerk was immediately, all polite attention. “I am afraid, sir,” he said, “that there is not. But what is it you wish to know?”

– Secret History, Smith’s Weekly, June 12, 1937


ONE of Australia’s politicians, while in London on official business, souvenired a tankard from the historic Cheshire Cheese. Next day a man called at his hotel and handed him a similar tankard inscribed with the compliments of the ancient tavern, at the same time politely asking for the return of the tankard which had been souvenired. The politician has long since got over his embarrassment and jocularly shows his substituted tankard to his friends.

– Secret History, Smith’s Weekly,  December 11 1937 


HABITUES of a big pub in Melbourne had a “quid in” on a big race, winner to take all. The lucky winner returned to the hotel a few minutes before six, and immediately set ’em up for the boys. The picnic ended next morning, all the drinks being on the winner of the sweep. Another “picnic” began on the Sunday evening, when the nearly-sober benefactor was told that the treasurer of the sweep had decamped, and that an unsympathetic management was including the “tick-it-ups” of the previous night’s entertainment in the winner’s bill.

– Secret History, Smiths Weekly, August 18, 1928


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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

Mrs Maclurcan Queen’s Hotel Townsville 1898

Mrs Maclurcan was in charge of the food at the Queen’s Hotel, Townsville, Queensland in the 1890s. The Sydney Mail reported on October 15 1898 that Mrs Maclurcan  was the author of an early culinary tome, entitled simply, ‘Mrs Maclurcan’s Cookery Book’.

Newmarket Hotel Cairns 1918 Adelaide Observer


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


fishing competition

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



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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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

beer smashed 1954 richmond victoria

BEER for Christmas — 40 dozen bottles of it — many smashed to smithereens when a brewery truck and another truck collided in Church Street, Richmond, today.
– The Melbourne Herald December 14 1954


Tasmanian beer for NSW 1953

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


Bordertown Hotel SA Google

The Bordertown Hotel, Bordertown, South Australia. Picture: Google

Bordertown Hotel 1949THE 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


Shout barmaids 1938

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.


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


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



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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on the slate

Not his fault, if barman forgot

Blue with cold, he stepped into the bar of a Forbes hotel.
“Cold, ain’t it?”
“Yeh, too right,” said the barman.
“Give us a hot ‘tom and jerry’,” said the shivering one.
Drinking the hot reviver quickly, he moved back a little, and said, “You can put that on the slate.”
“Heh,” called the barman, “we don’t keep no slate here.”
“Well,” said the smart one, making for the door, “don’t go’n’ blame me if you forget all about it.”
And he stepped out into the weather.
What the barman said is irrelevant.
Forbes Advocate June 19 1931.



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 


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


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


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”.


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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sheep bar 1943

TWO YEARS AGO, Mrs M. Kendall, of the Wahring Hotel, near Murchison (Vic.), had a pet lamb, Clarence, which she fed from a bottle. Today, as the above picture shows, Clarence is now a fully grown sheep and comes into the bar each morning for his drink — but instead of milk he has stout!
– The Melbourne Herald November 13 1943



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!


brandy still 1913

Messrs. Penfold & Co.’s huge brandy still on its way to Nuriootpa [SA] last week.
– Adelaide Observer January 25 1913 

LIKES BRANDYbrandy mule 1935This mule, Egbert by name, and residing at Tennant’s Creek, Centralasia has the distinction of being fond of brandy. He is shown here on the hotel verandah waiting for his usual spot of “fire water”.– The Sydney Sun April 28 1935

A curious case of larceny was brought under notice on the 28th ult., when four young men were charged at the South Melbourne Court with stealing beer from the premises of the Castlemaine Brewery Company, Moray Street, South Melbourne, on the previous evening. Constables were sent on ‘special duty’ in plain clothes and saw the accused outside the brewery. They had a piece of gas-pipe about 12 feet long and bent in the form of a syphon, which was stuck through one of the windows of the cellars, into a large vat of newly brewed beer. They were drawing beer off into three billycans. The offenders were each sentenced to seven days’ imprisonment.
– Australian Brewers’ Journal, April 1898.
beer container British Breweries Petersham 1953


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.


anzac day beer 1948

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.


If you would like to support my work, you can leave a small ‘bar tip’ here of $2, or several small tips, just increase the amount as you like. Your generous patronage of my work and research, however small it appears to you, will greatly help me with my continuing costs.



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.



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.


George Lloyd publican 1952

PUBLICAN of the Bald Faced Stag Hotel on Parramatta Road, Leichhardt (Sydney), George Lloyd is pictured training on a miniature bicycle for the Publicans’ Cycle Derby. The charity derby was held at Sydney Sports Ground.
Photo: The Sydney Sun March 30 1952.


George Hotel Albury 1926 anu

George Hotel, Albury, 1926. Photo: Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University.


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 mascot 1940Strangest 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.


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.

six oclock swill cartoon

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



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”.


If you would like to support my work, you can leave a small ‘bar tip’ here of $2, or several small tips, just increase the amount as you like. Your generous patronage of my work and research, however small it appears to you, will greatly help me with my continuing costs.



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!”


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 

The Sydney Daily Telegraph February 2 1941

A Sydney Daily Telegraph survey published in February 1941 showed married couples – both men and women – preferred to be served by barmaids in pubs, while single women – not surprisingly – would have rathered a barman pour their drink.


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.


If you would like to support my work, you can leave a small ‘bar tip’ here of $2, or several small tips, just increase the amount as you like. Your generous patronage of my work and research, however small it appears to you, will greatly help me with my continuing costs.



man cranking vintage carA 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.

mile end hotel south australia

The Mile End Hotel, Mile End, South Australia.

Sandy Mills Joe Rabbit MIle End Hotel SA 1949ONE 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.


unusual beer glasses

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.


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.


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. 
– C.
– 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.

— “Heck.”

– Smith’s Weekly Saturday 28 August 1920.


“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.
– F.W.
– 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.

– “Aramac.”
– 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.


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.


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.


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”.
– “Toph.”
– 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.


brandyDONALD 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.



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.


If you would like to support my work, you can leave a small ‘bar tip’ here of $2, or several small tips, just increase the amount as you like. Your generous patronage of my work and research, however small it appears to you, will greatly help me with my continuing costs.



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.


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.” 

— A.L.S.

– Smith’s Weekly Saturday 23 October 1920.



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 beer 1951

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.



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.


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.


elephant drunkELEPHANT’S BEER

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.

sing like father 1923

“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 hair tonic

Beauty Comment

Beer a fine substitute for hair-setting lotion


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 townsville barmaid 1944

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 lunch Melbourne pub 1949

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


If you would like to support my work, you can leave a small ‘bar tip’ here of $2, or several small tips, just increase the amount as you like. Your generous patronage of my work and research, however small it appears to you, will greatly help me with my continuing costs.




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



duck raffle“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.

– “Quack”.

Smith’s Weekly October 14 1939.



Drawn by Ambrose Dyson
[There are beer strikes on at many small Victorian towns as a result of the action of the publicans in raising the price of beer to compensate them for the losses resulting upon the enforcement of the law against Sunday trading.]
BILL: “Come ‘n ‘ave er drink, Jim.” 
Jim (disgustedly) : “Gerrout, yeh cow, yeh wouldn’t arsk me on’y yeh know I’m on strike.”– Critic (Adelaide), Wednesday 30 January 1907.

beer drinking contest 1936


Dave Brown, famous Rugby League centre three-quarter, is now a publican in Oxford-street, Sydney. Brown, who recently fractured a collarbone, expects to be playing again soon with his club, Eastern Suburbs.
– The Sydney Sun Monday 29 April 1940.




publican 1999The 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.


– The Riverine Herald Monday 8 February 1999




DURING the beer shortages after World War II, two men walked into the bar of a hotel in one of the quieter parts of Brisbane.

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.


beer drinkers in a liverpool street sydney pub 1949

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 .

tooheys beer loading sydney 1948

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 penny bar door


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.

harry lauder


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!


crowded pub bar

A crowded pub bar (not the Tea Gardens Hotel).


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



  • 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


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.

gimlet toolThe 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.


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.

– Sulphur.
– Smith’s Weekly Saturday 19 December 1936.


beer wogNew 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.


london tavern redfern 1945 sign

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.

old barmaids


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.

christmas publican cartoon


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.

chicken beer


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


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!


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 barrels SCG 1924

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.


coopers and brothers Henry and Louis Foureur of SA 1952Two 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.

beer barrels on cart Newcastle 1945

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.


B Kelly of Braddon Canberra cellarman 1967‘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.


upside down beerAmong 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



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.

spilled beer 1951

14 DOZEN BOTTLES OF BEER were broken today when crates slid off a lorry backing from Club House Lane, at the side of the Bank of NSW, into North terrace, Adelaide. The beer fell off as the vehicle crossed a spoon drain. The driver, Alexander Ker, is shown cleaning up the broken bottles.
– News (Adelaide) Wednesday 28 March 1951.

new adelaide kegs 1950

FIRST CONSIGNMENT of 200 18-gallon stainless steel beer
casks for South Australia arrived at the SA Brewing Company from Melbourne today. They were ordered to meet immediate deficiencies in supply. They weigh 51 pound (23kgs) compared with the 70 pound (31kgs) of a wooden cask.
– Adelaide News Thursday 9 November 1950.

beer barrel spill melbourne 1949

DESPITE THE HOLIDAY PERIOD, beer flowed in plenty in Albert-street, East Melbourne, when this lorry dislodged its cargo of barrels. No time was lost in replacing them on to the lorry.
– The Melbourne Age Saturday 31 December 1949.

london beer show

Judges sampling Australian Colonial bottled beer, which was exhibited for the first time this year at the Brewer’s Exhibition in London.
– The Central Queensland Herald Thursday 8 December 1938.


A SOUTH Australian hotel proprietor owns this remarkable two-legged cat. It is four years old and fully grown, and does not seem to miss the front legs of which fate deprived it. It walks upright, but when in a hurry it hops like a kangaroo.
Albany Advertiser (WA) Monday 16 November 1931.

truck beer spill 1922 oxford st sydney

INCIDENT IN OXFORD STREET YESTERDAY. A motor lorry, loaded with baskets of bottled beer, was crossing Oxford Street yesterday afternoon when a portion of the load gave way, and a number of baskets with their contents were thrown to the roadway. Bottles were smashed to pieces, and their contents ran in rivulets into the gutters. “What a shame that so much good beer should be wasted,” commented one of the onlookers, while more than one pair of eyes looked longingly as the beer ran away.
– Daily Telegraph (Sydney), Tuesday 17 October 1922.

wharf hotel

THE WHARF HOTEL, one of Port Adelaide’s oldest landmarks, is being demolished. The area is to be used for proposed wharf extensions.
– News (Adelaide, SA) Tuesday 5 July 1949.

grand national hotel melbourne

BLOWING up the tower of the Grand National Tower Hotel at Flemington, Victoria in May 1924. The hotel stood for 40 years, and was a historic landmark outside the Showground gates. It was a popular rendezvous during Flemington racing carnvals, and its stables had sheltered two Melbourne Cup winners.


roadside pub

THIS fantastic photograph is captioned simply “WA Roadside Hotel”, and appeared in the Western Australian newspaper, The Menzies Miner on Saturday 25 December 1897.


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.
– “Kybosh.”

– 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.


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.
– “Jicky.”

– 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.
— S.S.

– 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.
— “Mundowie.”

– Wider & Wilder, Smith’s Weekly (Sydney) Saturday 12 December 1936.

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!

— “Key.”

– Wider & Wilder, Smith’s Weekly (Sydney) Saturday 24 August 1929.



pub fightMY 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.



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.
– W.

– Wider & Wilder: Smith’s Weekly (Sydney) Saturday 24 January 1931.


drunk mouseWHEN 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.
– Torres.

– The World’s News Saturday 7 January 1939.


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.

weileys hotel grafton flood 1950

Charlie Richards’s nine gallon keg of beer may well of came from Weiley’s Hotel at Grafton, pictured here during the 1950 flood. Photo: State Library of Victoria


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 



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

bunch grapes ballarat

The facade of the Bunch of Grapes Hotel, Ballarat, Victoria.

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.

tattersalls hotel parramatta 1927ANOTHER 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


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.

Baden Powell Hotel 1949 ANU

The now demolished Baden Powell Hotel, corner Regent and James Streets, Redfern, 1949. Photo: Australian National University, Noel Butlin Archives.


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.


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


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


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:


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.


whalers Arms The Rocks Sydney 1901

The Whalers Arms, The Rocks, Sydney, 1901



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.


talbot Hotel New Town Hobart Google

Talbot Hotel, New Town, Hobart. Photo: Google Streetview.

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.



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.


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.”
– ‘Magpie’.

– 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.

hat tipped

“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.


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.


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.

court house hotel sheparton victoria

The Court House Hotel, Shepparton, Victoria. Photo: Photo: State Library Victoria.


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.

occidental hotel yourk street sydney google streeview

The Occidental Hotel, Sydney. Photo: Google Streetview


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 theftBeer 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.

home brew


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 and pubPULPIT & 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


jealous barmaid

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.


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


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.


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.


bung barrel


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.




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 case heard at Gilgandra (NSW) police court the other day gave some insight, as to how ‘free beer’ was obtained on the railways. A former railway employee gave the information that kegs of beer were tapped with a large nail, and after the contents had been well sampled, the hole was plugged up with a piece of wood and dirt rubbed over
it to obliterate the tell-tale plug.
– Northern Argus (Clare, SA) Friday 3 May 1929.
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
Said the inquisitivetourist, at the Shadow of Death Hotel, in the western wilds, “Why do your – er – clients so frequently refer to your liquid refreshment as “possum-juice?” “Because,” sweetly replied the shirt-sleeved Bung, as he poured a couple of pounds of
bluestone into the rum cask and stirred the mixture vigorously, “because when
they have drunk it, they want to climb trees.”
Truth (Brisbane)Sunday 9 May 1909.
Sydney, Tuesday.
Casey’s old hotel, at the corner of Liverpool and George Streets has been taken down and the materials sold by public auction. An old beam was purchased for 6s, and the man who bought it was engaged in cutting it up, when he found eight £20 notes concealed in an auger hole. As no clue to the owner can be obtained the finder is keeping the money.
-Macleay Argus (Kempsey, NSW) Wednesday 24 January 1894.
This ghost drank beer
SYDNEY, Sun: John Bain, 63, military pensioner, who police believed to have been drowned at Liverpool and buried-last February, has been found alive and living at Auburn. He was refused payment of his pension because he was “dead,” and it was renewed only after he had established his identity. Harry Bell, 66, said yesterday: “When I ran into ‘Bluey’ Bain in an Auburn hotel a few days ago, I thought I was seeing a ghost.
“The bloke I identified in the morgue was the dead spit of ‘Bluey.’
“We had a few beers to celebrate his return to life.”
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic) Monday 28 November 1949.

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


DURING a raid on a Newcastle hotel on Saturday night, four men “made a break.” They got safely through the back door, intending to cross the yard and scale the fence. But they forgot the licensee’s dog. As they enmerged into the yard, the dog bailed them up and drove them inside again. They feared the notebook of the law less than the fangs of
the backyard custodian.
– Newcastle Morning Herald (NSW) Monday 25 August 1947
MELBOURNE. — “Time, gentlemen, please,” at the Botanical Hotel, South Yarra, on Wednesday last week meant farewell to Miss A. M. Hoffman, Victoria’s oldest licensed barmaid. She has been at the Botanical Hotel for 27 years, and a barmaid for 46. Her licence, No. 220, was issued on December 28, 1906, and in all that time she has never had a drink or a smoke. The patrons and the retiring licensee, Mr A. E. Head, presented her with cheques and other gifts on Wednesday to allow their appreciation.
– The Northern Miner (Charters Towers Qld) Tuesday January 6 1953.
John Sheridan licensee of the Moonbi Hotel, Condobolin (NSW) was killed by the stem of a tobacco pipe being driven into his throat. He was returning from the Hotel yard carrying some wood when he stumbled in the dark and fell. Sheridan was smoking at the time, and the stem of his pipe was driven right into the tissues of his neck at the spinal column where it joins the skull.
The Beverley Times (WA) Saturday 11 May 1907.
COOKTOWN. Monday.— The Annan River, which runs past the Lions’ Den Hotel at Helensvale (Qld), came down suddenly in high flood, submerging the lower part of the building and rising so fast that Mrs. Watkins, the proprietress, who is 87, and other occupants were forced to spend the night on the hotel roof while furniture was floating around. Floods in the Cooktown district are higher than any flood since 1919.
Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser (Qld.) Tuesday 28 March 1939.
MELBOURNE, Wednesday. — During the progress of a storm at Beulah (Vic.) last night the roof of the Farmers’ Union Hotel collapsed suddenly. The licensee T P. Seery, was killed outright. Two soldier farmers – McFie and McIntyre – who were in the hoiel, were also buried beneath the wreckage. The former was seriously injured.
Daily Telegraph (Launceston, Tas.)Thursday 16 December 1920.
MELBOURNE, Sunday. Draught beer prices are expected to rise by at least two cents a glass in Victoria soon. At present a 7oz glass of beer sells for 18 cents in public bars and 10oz pots, 24 cents.
– The Canberra Times (ACT)Monday 22 April 1974.
For having stolen a 10-gallon keg of beer and two taps, valued at £6 from a hotel in Dowling-street [Sydney], yesterday, Tony Giacco, 28, laborer, was fined £5, or 10 days improisonment, at the Central Court to-day. Constable Hayman said that Giacco
asked a barmaid to “ring up” for a taxi cab and during her absence he rolled the keg of beer out of the bar, and put it in a taxi cab.
– The Sun (Sydney, NSW) Wednesday 5 October 1938
AN old building at Ryde (NSW) in which they camped on Sunday night yielded treasure to two young swagmen. Previously the place was a hotel, and hidden under the floor of the
kitchen they found three bottles of champagne, which, apparently, had been there for years. Two of the bottles were sold at 10 shillings each, but the couple decided to celebrate with the third.
– Mudgee Guardian (NSW )Thursday 15 June 1933.
mccrackens lane melbourne sign

A much dryer McCracken’s Lane, Melbourne, Victoria, 2016. Photo: Google Streetview.


WHEN two thousand bottles of beer crashed from a lorry in McCracken’s Lane, Melbourne, (Victoria) yesterday, some 400 bottles were smashed and gallons of beer flowed down the lane towards Collins Street.
– The Riverine Grazier (Hay, NSW)Friday 7 February 1947.
Mr. Harry Ellis-Kels, who’s opening a brewery at Darwin (NT), will make two brands of beer, which a friend tells me he’ll call “Alligator” and “Buffalo”. They’ll have more of a
local flavor than “Hiawatha,” anyway. Some very fine local spring water will be another aid in giving the beer a true NT identity.
– News (Adelaide) November 24 1950.
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.
beer barrels ice

Empty beer barrels capped with snow outside a roadside hotel near Tumbarumba (NSW) – The Land June 9 1933

A LOCAL hotelkeeper, while engaged in putting on a barrel of beer in his cellar last week, received a shock when he nearly stepped on a snake which was enjoying a quiet rest in the cool retreat. Bung, however, was quite equal to the occasion, and some quick work with a spanner soon settled the argument as to right of possession. The wriggler was of the brown variety, and had evidently found its way into the cellar through the gratings on the footpath.
– Mudgee Guardian and North-Western Representative (NSW) Monday 7 March 1932.
LITHGOW, Saturday. Joseph Bannon, a Portland resident, when found by the local sergeant of police hiding behind a beer barrel in a cellar, and asked what he was doing there, replied “To get as far away from you as possible.” The time was well after the six o’clock closing hour, and, despite his frankness, he was fined just as much as a companion, who was discovered behind another barrel, and who declared that he was looking for his dog.
– National Advocate (Bathurst, NSW ) Monday 14 October 1929.
Thirty-six gallons of beer was tapped and stolen from two kegs during transit by motor lorry from Marrabel to the West End brewery, Adelaide, this week. The beer was part of a consignment from Mr. Oscar Heinrich, of the Point Pass Hotel.
– The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA)Saturday 14 October 1950
A few days ago a thirsty traveller walked into one of our hotels and was served with a long beer by an experienced barmaid. He then asked for a “pony beer”. The barmaid, after looking at all the bottles and casks in the bar, apologised for not having “pony beer”, but added, “We have plenty ‘White Horse’ if that will do.”
– The Port Macquarie News and Hastings River Advocate (NSW ) Saturday 6 May 1922.
* Pony is NSW’s slang for a seven ounce glass of beer. White Horse was a brand of beer.
A Goulburn hotelkeeper, who was proceeded against for having a bottle of whisky in his bar which contained 30 per cent water, pleaded that he kept ihe weak whisky to give men free nips the morning after the night before, when they had no money. The magistrate, in imposing a fine of £10 for selling adulterated whisky, gave his opinion of the defence, when he curtly remarked, “I don’t believe it.”
– The Inverell Times (NSW )Friday 20 July 1923.
No. 1 Adelaide Police Court this morning for a time bore an odor familiar to many people. It was that of beer. In conveying a keg of beer to be produced as evidence in a case of sly grog selling, two constables inadverterntly loosened the bung, and a fair quantity of the amber-colored liquid had escaped before the flow could be stopped. The constables hurriedly and confusedly brought into action newspapers and a mop to remove signs of the beer.
– News (Adelaide, SA)Friday 18 November 1927.


Pint beer glasses reappeared in most Sydney hotels yesterday after an absence of three or four years, but customers generally asked for schooners or middies. The pint glass holds 20oz. compared with the schooner (16oz) and the middy (9oz). The pint costs 1/2 and the
schooner 11d. Under the new Liquor Act the sizes of glasses will be 20, 15, 10 and 5 ozs, but the current glass shortage is delaying manufacture of all sizes except the 20oz.
– The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW )Tuesday 23 September 1947.
Adelaide, Wednesday: Part of the bar and a cash register were wrecked and dozens of glasses were smashed when an l8 gallon keg of beer exploded in the front bar of the Commercial Hotel, Gawler place, city, this afternoon. Nobody in the crowded bar was injured, but a customer’s pint glass of beer was cut in half by the blast. A barman was drenched with beer.
– The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. )Thursday 18 October 1951.
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.
SYDNEY, Friday. – When a Dubbo publican tapped a keg of beer, water came but no beer. The beer had been sent by rail and carrier. There were several kegs and the last was full of water. It is considered that the keg was tapped somewhere in transit. Other country publicans have run short of supplies because they have been stolen in transit.
– Northern Star (Lismore, NSW )Saturday 15 January 1944.
E.D. WORKER, – The following requires publicity. A short stage from Winton there lives a publican who some time ago engaged a young girl as cook for the magnificent sum of 10s. per week. She is expected to wash, iron, scrub, and do almost everything about the hotel. At night she is expected to dance and entertain the customers in a general way.
-Yours, &c, A Unionist.
– Worker (Brisbane, Qld) Saturday 25 June 1898.
A local publican bought his usual block of ice, but it was different. He had had it a short while when he noticed that frozen into the ice was a pair of horn-rimmed spectacles. He feared to break the ice lest he should also damage the glasses, so let the ice melt. Eventually the spectacles were free and he rescued them, none the worse. To-day he handed them back to the ice man to deliver to the man who had lost them he knew not where.
The Maitland Daily Mercury (NSW )Saturday 4 February 1939.
Mrs Tuckwell, licensee of the Royal Hotel, Deniliquin and her maids received a shock when a cow wandered through the main entrance and climbed the stairs. It careered along the passage and entered a bedroom, fortunately unoccupied.
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.



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.


MISS DOROTHY HARTIGAN is the first single woman in New South Wales to be granted a hotel licence. Single women were previously ineligible for licences. Miss Hartigan has never tasted liquor.

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.


Quack Quack


Cartoon by Paul Dorin

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


Ron Muir (on sax) and James “Double” Orvad (piano) entertain the crowd at Woonona Bulli RSL.

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

harp inn wollongong c1890

Harp Inn Corrimal Street Wollongong c1890

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.

fight Smiths Weekly August 6 1938

Picture: Smith’s Weekly August 6 1938


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.

3 replies

  1. Hi, Edward Powell’s Half Way House Hotel on Parramatta Road Homebush pre-dates the Bald Faced Stag by over 20 years, It was first licenced in 1809. Gov Macquarie stopped there in 1810. The hotel changed it’s name several times eventually becoming the Horse and Jockey in the 1840’s, the Homebush Inn in the 1850’s and back to Horse and Jockey thereafter, and still trading today. In 1883 the original building was replaced by a newer one directly next door, yet the original building survived into the 1890’s. The newer 1883 building was demolished to widen Parramatta Road in the late 1930’s yet immediately re-built 14 feet back.on the same site using funds furnished by the Dept of Main Roads. The hotel owes it’s name to the publican and jockey, James Kerwin, who raced on the Homebush Racecourse in the 1840’s and 1850’s. During the late 1850’s, horse trainer William Cutts became publican and his stepson Johnny Cutts (John Cutts Dillon) went on to become the winning jockey of the first two Melbourne Cups (1861 & 1862). when he took the horse “Archer” to Melbourne on the steamship “City of Sydney” Cheers, Dave

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