Australian pubs
A public house
Public house
A public house, informally known as a pub, is a drinking establishment fundamental to the culture of Britain, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. There are approximately 53,500 public houses in the United Kingdom. This number has been declining every year, so that nearly half of the smaller...

(or pub for short) in Australia is an establishment performing many functions, often serving alcoholic beverage
Alcoholic beverage
An alcoholic beverage is a drink containing ethanol, commonly known as alcohol. Alcoholic beverages are divided into three general classes: beers, wines, and spirits. They are legally consumed in most countries, and over 100 countries have laws regulating their production, sale, and consumption...

s, meals, and providing basic accommodation.


The Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

n pub is a direct descendant of the British
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

 and Irish
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 public house
Public house
A public house, informally known as a pub, is a drinking establishment fundamental to the culture of Britain, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. There are approximately 53,500 public houses in the United Kingdom. This number has been declining every year, so that nearly half of the smaller...

. The production and consumption of alcoholic drinks has long played a key role in Western commerce and social activity, and this is reflected in the importance of pubs in the British colonisation of Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 after 1788. However, in the 19th century the local version evolved a number of distinctive features that set it apart from the classic British or urban Irish pub.

In many cases, pubs were the first structures built in newly-colonised areas (especially on the goldfields
Gold mining
Gold mining is the removal of gold from the ground. There are several techniques and processes by which gold may be extracted from the earth.-History:...

) and new towns often grew up around them. Pubs typically served multiple functions, simultaneously serving as hostelry, post office
Post office
A post office is a facility forming part of a postal system for the posting, receipt, sorting, handling, transmission or delivery of mail.Post offices offer mail-related services such as post office boxes, postage and packaging supplies...

, restaurant
A restaurant is an establishment which prepares and serves food and drink to customers in return for money. Meals are generally served and eaten on premises, but many restaurants also offer take-out and food delivery services...

, meeting place and sometimes even general store
General store
A general store, general merchandise store, or village shop is a rural or small town store that carries a general line of merchandise. It carries a broad selection of merchandise, sometimes in a small space, where people from the town and surrounding rural areas come to purchase all their general...


Nineteenth-century development

Pubs proliferated during the 19th century, especially during the Gold Rush
Gold rush
A gold rush is a period of feverish migration of workers to an area that has had a dramatic discovery of gold. Major gold rushes took place in the 19th century in Australia, Brazil, Canada, South Africa, and the United States, while smaller gold rushes took place elsewhere.In the 19th and early...

 that began in the 1850s, and many fine examples were built in the state capitals and major regional cities and towns. Some of the best colonial-era pubs in Australia's major cities have fallen victim to urban re-development, which has destroyed a significant portion of Australia's 19th-century architectural heritage. State capitals like Melbourne
Melbourne is the capital and most populous city in the state of Victoria, and the second most populous city in Australia. The Melbourne City Centre is the hub of the greater metropolitan area and the Census statistical division—of which "Melbourne" is the common name. As of June 2009, the greater...

 and Adelaide
Adelaide is the capital city of South Australia and the fifth-largest city in Australia. Adelaide has an estimated population of more than 1.2 million...

, and large regional cities and towns such as Kalgoorlie in Western Australia
Western Australia
Western Australia is a state of Australia, occupying the entire western third of the Australian continent. It is bounded by the Indian Ocean to the north and west, the Great Australian Bight and Indian Ocean to the south, the Northern Territory to the north-east and South Australia to the south-east...

 still boast some examples, and many other 19th century pubs survive in country towns.

Among the colonial-era hotels, now lost to development, were the Bellevue Hotel in Brisbane
Brisbane is the capital and most populous city in the Australian state of Queensland and the third most populous city in Australia. Brisbane's metropolitan area has a population of over 2 million, and the South East Queensland urban conurbation, centred around Brisbane, encompasses a population of...

 (demolished in 1979) and two of Sydney's pub-hotels – the Hotel Australia, which formerly stood on the corner of Castlereagh St and Martin Place (demolished ca. 1970 to make way for the MLC Centre
MLC Centre
The MLC Centre is a skyscraper in Sydney, Australia. This office building is 228 metres high and has 60 storeys. Occupants include the Sydney Consulate of the United States of America. The podium of the building includes a shopping centre with several exclusive fashion labels and a 1,186 seat...

) and the Tattersall's Hotel in Pitt St. Its marble bar was dismantled and reinstalled in a basement under the Sydney Hilton Hotel, which was built on the site of the Tattersall's Hotel in the early 1970s.

The development that solidified the characteristic style of the modern Australian pub was the introduction of the American-style bar counter in the early nineteenth century. Customers began to sit apart from the publicans, the atmosphere became commercial rather than home-like and the pub became a distinctly public, Australian male-dominated
Patriarchy is a social system in which the role of the male as the primary authority figure is central to social organization, and where fathers hold authority over women, children, and property. It implies the institutions of male rule and privilege, and entails female subordination...


Beer drinking culture in Australia

Australia's beer-drinking culture is descended from the northern European tradition, which favoured grain-derived beverages like beer and spirits, whereas in southern European countries like Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 and Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 wine was the drink of choice. Beer was for many years the largest-selling form of alcoholic drink in Australia, and Australia has long had one of the highest per capita rates of beer consumption in the world.

Australia did not develop a significant wine-making industry until the 20th century and while the wine industry grew steadily, wine did not become a major consumer drink until the late 20th century. Therefore for the period between 1800 and 1950 alcohol production and consumption in Australia was dominated by beer and spirits, with Australian pubs becoming synonymous with ice-cold pilsener beer.

Effect of licensing laws

Liquor licensing policies in early colonial Australia were relatively liberal, but in the late 19th century there was growing pressure from conservative Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 groups, known as the Temperance
Temperance movement
A temperance movement is a social movement urging reduced use of alcoholic beverages. Temperance movements may criticize excessive alcohol use, promote complete abstinence , or pressure the government to enact anti-alcohol legislation or complete prohibition of alcohol.-Temperance movement by...

 Leagues, to restrict the sale of alcohol. In 1916 after drunken soldiers rioted
Liverpool riot of 1916
The Liverpool Riot of 1916 also known as the Battle of Central Station was an event in Sydney, Australia where a large group of Australian soldiers rioted through the streets of Sydney and surrounding areas....

 in Sydney new licensing laws restricted alcohol in all Australian states, in most cases banning sales after 6 pm. The new legislation also forced publicans seeking a spirits licence to also obtain a beer licence and to provide accommodation. This set Australian pubs apart from the British model, where each pub had a specific and legally limited role to sell either beer or spirits.

The licensing laws restricted the sale and service of alcohol almost exclusively to pubs for decades. Alcohol could usually only be purchased in pubs, and many states placed restrictions on the number of bottles per customer that could be sold over the counter. It was not until the late 20th century that "bottle-shops" and chain-store outlets (where liquor was sold but not served) became common and restaurants and cafes were more widely licensed to serve liquor or to allow customers to "bring their own".

Opening hours were generally heavily restricted, and pubs were usually only from 10 am to 6 pm, Monday to Saturday. Some pubs were granted special licences to open and close earlier – e.g. opening at 6 am and closing at 3 pm – in areas where there were large numbers of people working night shifts. Pubs were invariably closed on Sundays, until the various state Sunday Observance Acts were repealed during the 1950s and early 1960s.

These restrictions created a small but lucrative black market in illegal alcohol, leading to the proliferation of illegal alcohol outlets in many urban areas; the so-called "sly grog shop". After the Federation of Australia
Federation of Australia
The Federation of Australia was the process by which the six separate British self-governing colonies of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia formed one nation...

 in 1901, Australia's new constitution ruled that the Commonwealth of Australia had no power to legislate in this area, so each state enacted and enforced its own liquor licensing regulations. This meant the Prohibition
Prohibition of alcohol, often referred to simply as prohibition, is the practice of prohibiting the manufacture, transportation, import, export, sale, and consumption of alcohol and alcoholic beverages. The term can also apply to the periods in the histories of the countries during which the...

 lobby in Australia had to lobby each individual state government, and was unable to achieve any nationwide ban on the sale of alcohol. Although liquor sales remained heavily restricted for many years, Australia did not experience the many social ills, including the vast expansion of organised crime that resulted from Prohibition in the United States in the 1920s.

Types of beer

Perhaps because of the generally hot, dry climate, Australian beer drinkers soon came to favour chilled pilsener
Pilsner is a type of pale lager. It takes its name from the city of Pilsen , Bohemia, in today's Czech Republic, where it has been developed since 1842, when a bottom-fermented beer was first produced. The original Pilsner Urquell beer is produced there today.-Origin:Until the mid-1840s, most ...

 style beers. This trend was reinforced with the expansion and consolidation of the Australian brewing industry, and by the development of hop growing, especially in Tasmania
Tasmania is an Australian island and state. It is south of the continent, separated by Bass Strait. The state includes the island of Tasmania—the 26th largest island in the world—and the surrounding islands. The state has a population of 507,626 , of whom almost half reside in the greater Hobart...


The dominance of chilled pilsener beer was further reinforced by the invention of refrigeration. Australia was one of the first countries to adopt the new technology on a wide scale and pubs were among the first local businesses to use refrigeration, to keep beer ice-cold.

Another notable feature of Australian beer is its relatively high alcohol content, which for many years has typically ranged between 4 percent and 6 percent alcohol – somewhat higher than their British and American counterparts.

Beer production in Australia began with small private breweries supplying local pubs. The industry rapidly became both larger in scale and more centralised as brewers adopted mass-production techniques during the late 19th century and new modes of transport came into operation.

By the 20th century the major brewing firms had become very large vertically integrated
Vertical integration
In microeconomics and management, the term vertical integration describes a style of management control. Vertically integrated companies in a supply chain are united through a common owner. Usually each member of the supply chain produces a different product or service, and the products combine to...

 businesses. They owned the breweries and ran truck fleets and distribution networks, and the major brewers owned chains of pubs across the country. The premises were typically operated on a leasehold basis by licensed publicans.

As they grew, the larger and more successful firms began to take over smaller breweries, although they often retained the older brand names and the loyal clientele of those brands, such as Tooheys continuing to distribute "Tooth's KB Lager" and "Resch's Pilsener" and "DA" ("Dinner Ale") after they had bought and eventually closed the Reschs and Tooths breweries. By the mid-20th century the brewing industry was dominated by a handful of large and powerful state-based companies; the Tooth's and Toohey's in Sydney, Carlton United in Melbourne, Castlemaine in Brisbane, West End and Coopers in Adelaide and Swan in Perth. These brands effectively became unofficial mascots for their respective states.

In the late 20th century these beer empires began to expand overseas; Carlton's Fosters Group and Castlemaine-Tooheys empires now control significant segments of the brewing and beverage industry in Australasia, the UK, Europe and many other regions.

Pubs and licensing laws

Each Australian state has its own set of liquor licensing laws which regulate the times that pubs could open and close. Until recently these laws were relatively strict, a legacy of the influence of the 'reformist' Christian Temperance groups in the late 19th and early 20th century.

The concerns of these groups were in some areas well-founded. Alcohol abuse was an endemic social problem in most western countries and, as the local brewing and distilling industry expanded, it quickly became a serious problem in Australia. However, the Temperance movements were driven by a dogmatic Christian world view, and the main agenda of the larger "Christian Morality" movement at this time was to outlaw all forms of social behaviour which went against Christian teaching – this included the consumption of alcohol, all forms of gambling and animal racing, prostitution and recreational (non-alcohol) drug use.

Temperance advocates feared – with some justification – that workers would spend all their time and money in the pub if they were permitted to stay there throughout the evening, and that children and families would suffer as a result (which they often did). Pubs were seen as a nexus for all kinds of immoral activity, including illegal "SP betting", and the Temperance movement lobbied long and hard to have public houses tightly regulated and their opening hours severely restricted.

In this area, the "Wowser
Wowser was originally a slang expression, most commonly heard in Australian and New Zealand English. It originated in Australia, at first carrying a similar meaning to 'lout', i.e. an annoying or disruptive person, or even a prostitute. In around 1900 it shifted to its present meaning: one whose...

s" (as they were dubbed) were very successful but these high moral concerns backfired, at least in terms of liquor licensing, and the new laws led to the evolution of what was a new phenomenon in Australian 20th century pub culture.

From the advent of the Eight-hour day
Eight-hour day
The eight-hour day movement or 40-hour week movement, also known as the short-time movement, had its origins in the Industrial Revolution in Britain, where industrial production in large factories transformed working life and imposed long hours and poor working conditions. With working conditions...

 until the late 1970s, most Australian blue-collar workers were tied to a 9am-5pm, Monday-to-Friday work schedule. Because most pubs were only permitted to stay open until 6 pm, workers would commonly head for the nearest pub as soon as they finished work at 5 pm, where they would drink as much as possible, as quickly as possible, in the hour before the pub closed. This practice came to be known as the "Six O'Clock Swill
Six o'clock swill
The six o'clock swill was an Australian and New Zealand slang term for the last-minute rush to buy drinks at a hotel bar before it closed. During a significant part of the 20th century, most Australian and New Zealand hotels shut their public bars at 6 p.m. A culture developed of heavy drinking...


It fostered an endemic culture of daily binge-drinking, which in turn created persistent problems of alcohol-related violence – drunken patrons regularly got into alcohol-fuelled fights in and around the pub, and many husbands arrived home in the early evening extremely drunk, with negative consequences. This destructive 'tradition' persisted through most of the 20th century but it quickly disappeared after the 1960s, when changes to the licensing laws in most states allowed pubs to stay open until 10 pm.

Another factor that reinforced the nexus between pubs and problem drinking was the fact that, until the late 20th century in most parts of Australia, alcohol could usually only be purchased over the counter at the pub, and the types and amount of alcohol that could be sold was also restricted.

The pub-based "Bottle Shop" (usually one of the smaller bars converted into a sales area for bottled and canned drinks) is now commonplace in Australian pubs, but these only began to appear in the 1960s. These were followed by specialist "sales-only" retail outlet chains (where alcohol is not served on the premises), and these now account for most of the alcohol sold in Australia.

Unlike the Australian Capital Territory and some American states (e.g. California), where alcohol can be sold at retail grocery stores, it is still not the norm for alcohol to be sold in such outlets in Australia. In most large cities and towns there were also a number of designated "early openers", pubs that were specially licensed to open in the early morning (e.g. 6:00 am) and close mid-afternoon. These early openers primarily catered for shift workers who had just finished a 9pm-6am night shift.

Another Australian pub tradition, which some considered almost as undesirable than the Six O'Clock Swill, was the co-called "pub crawl
Pub crawl
A pub crawl is the act of one or more people drinking in multiple pubs or bars in a single night, normally walking or busing to each one between drinking.-Origin of the term:...

". In many inner city and suburban areas, it was common to find numerous pubs located within a short distance of each other. It became a regular tradition, especially on weekends and public holidays, for groups of drinkers to undertake marathon drinking sessions that moved from pub to pub. Pub Crawls would begin in the late afternoon or early evening, then progress to each of the neighbouring pubs in turn. Although it still continues to some extent in some areas, the worst excesses of the Pub Crawl tradition have largely disappeared from major cities, since many city pubs have been since been demolished and the loosening of licensing laws has made alcohol much more widely available.

These regulations and conventions created a climate in which many pubs – especially those located near dockyards and other industrial sites – gained a reputation for being violent, dangerous and generally unsavoury places. Australians were among the highest per capita alcohol consumers in the world, and the combination of large amounts of alcohol, an all-male clientele and aggravating factors like the Six O'Clock Swill regularly led to violent clashes between inebriated patrons.

The relationship between pubs and crime in Australia was established early, and before the proliferation of drug trafficking in Australia in the late 20th century, some inner-city and suburban pubs (such as the once-notorious Lord Nelson Hotel
Lord Nelson Hotel
The Lord Nelson Hotel is a grand hotel in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. It is located on the corner of Spring Garden and South Park Streets across from the Halifax Public Gardens. It was built in 1927 by a consortium of investors led by the Canadian Pacific Railway who wanted a Halifax anchor to...

 in Sydney's The Rocks
The Rocks, New South Wales
The Rocks is an urban locality, tourist precinct and historic area of Sydney's city centre, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. It is located on the southern shore of Sydney Harbour, immediately north-west of the Sydney central business district...

) were regularly frequented by criminals, who met there to recruit accomplices and plan 'jobs'. Criminals also regularly used particular pubs as "shopfronts" from which to sell the proceeds of their crimes on the black market. Late in the 20th century, this dubious tradition came to include drug dealing, and every major Australian city has pubs which became notorious in the 1970s and beyond as virtual "supermarkets" for cannabis, amphetamines, heroin and other drugs.

Gaming and betting was another major part of Australian pub culture. Legal gambling
Gambling is the wagering of money or something of material value on an event with an uncertain outcome with the primary intent of winning additional money and/or material goods...

 is a relatively new phenomenon in Australia, but illegal gaming has always been part of pub culture. Because legal betting on horse and dog races was for many years restricted to racetracks, and no off-track betting was permitted, illegal betting (usually known as "Starting Price" or SP bookmaking
SP bookmaking
Starting price or SP bookmaking literally refers to taking bets at fixed odds, i.e. a fixed starting price, as opposed to the totalisator model of betting...

) proliferated. Pubs became a major venue for the collection of bets and the distribution of winnings. One Australian author has noted that SP bookmaking had become so widespread by the early 20th century that constituted "a virtual national act of civil disobedience".

One of the betting games most closely associated with the Aussie pub was the coin game Two-Up
Two-up is a traditional Australian gambling game, involving a designated 'Spinner' throwing two or three coins into the air. Players gamble on whether the coins will fall with both heads up, both tails up, or with one coin a head, and one a tail...

, which was extremely popular during the 19th and earlier 20th century. It is most often associated with the celebration of Anzac Day
Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand, commemorated by both countries on 25 April every year to honour the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps who fought at Gallipoli in the Ottoman Empire during World War I. It now more broadly commemorates all...

 on 25 April each year. In the years after World War I, it became traditional that, after the early morning commemorative service and march, ex-servicemen would gather at local pubs to drink, reminisce and play two-up. Although still technically illegal, Anzac Day Two-Up games are now openly played in streets and laneways outside pubs and it has become a national institution that is now generally ignored by police.

Live music and the pub circuit

In the 1970s and 1980s, pubs played an important role as venues for live rock music
Rock music
Rock music is a genre of popular music that developed during and after the 1960s, particularly in the United Kingdom and the United States. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, itself heavily influenced by rhythm and blues and country music...

 in Australia.

Reflecting the age of its fans, in the preceding decades, pop and rock music performances were typically "all ages" events. Smaller concerts were often held in public venues like community, church, school or local council halls, and larger performances (like tours by visiting international acts) were staged in major concert halls or sports stadiums. Some concerts were staged in licensed premises, but the vast majority were in public venues open to all ages, and alcohol was unavailable.

By the late 1960s, Australia's "baby boomer" pop audience was ageing into its late teens and early twenties. This demographic trend coincided with the gradual relaxation of states' restrictive licensing laws – the legal drinking age was generally lowered to 18 (in line with changes to the voting age) and the opening hours of pubs were finally allowed to be extended to 10pm and beyond.

Rock concerts were attracting younger audiences in large numbers, and changes in the licensing laws enabled pubs to begin presenting regular concerts by rock groups in the early 1970s. Such "pub gigs" were often presented free-of-charge, with the cost recouped from alcohol sales, although it became more common for licensees and/or promoters to charge an entry fee, especially for the more popular groups whose fees were higher.

The relatively low cost of staging pub gigs, the large numbers of patrons they attracted and the high volume of alcohol sales that resulted made them very attractive to pub licensees. State capitals like Melbourne and Sydney had dozens of pubs in inner-city and suburban areas, and many of these had large function rooms or large public bars from the early 1970s pubs became one of the most important outlets for Australian rock music. Many significant Australian groups of the 1970s and 1980s – including AC/DC
AC/DC are an Australian rock band, formed in 1973 by brothers Malcolm and Angus Young. Commonly classified as hard rock, they are considered pioneers of heavy metal, though they themselves have always classified their music as simply "rock and roll"...

, Cold Chisel
Cold Chisel
Cold Chisel is a rock band that originated in Adelaide, Australia. It is one of the most acclaimed Australian rock bands of all time, with a string of hits throughout the 1970s and 1980s and huge sales that continue to this day, although its success and acclaim was almost completely restricted to...

, Midnight Oil
Midnight Oil
Midnight Oil , were an Australian rock band from Sydney originally performing as Farm from 1972 with drummer Rob Hirst, bass guitarist Andrew James and keyboard player/lead guitarist Jim Moginie...

 and INXS
INXS are an Australian rock band, formed as The Farriss Brothers in 1977 in Sydney, New South Wales. Mainstays are Garry Gary Beers on bass guitar, Andrew Farriss on guitar/keyboards, Jon Farriss on drums, Tim Farriss on lead guitar and Kirk Pengilly on guitar/sax...

 – spent their formative years playing on the pub circuit.

Another significant feature of the pub gig was that it gave rock groups in the so-called "Second Wave" of Australian rock the chance to develop their performance and repertoire. Pubs like the renowned Station Hotel in Prahran, Melbourne, offered extended residencies to popular or up-and-coming rock bands, enabling them to hone their playing 'chops' and refine their material in front of a varied audience, and many groups generated fiercely loyal local followings thanks to pub residencies.

The live proficiency of Australian 'pub-rock' bands of this period is widely attributed to their experiences playing in the rough-and-ready atmosphere of the pub circuit. Unlike the frenzied but generally upbeat atmosphere typical of Sixties pop shows, pub gigs could be a testing experience for even the most accomplished band. Often as not, a significant proportion of the audience were in varying states of intoxication, and groups who did provide the kind of performance that was required by the audience could be given short shrift by dissatisfied 'punters'.

By the late 1970s a significant number of capital-city and regional pubs were presenting rock music on a regular basis, forming a loose but lucrative circuit of venues for bands all over Australia, and the most popular venues offered music every night of the week.

Certain groups became closely associated with formative residencies at particular pubs – a prime example was the long-running residency by Midnight Oil at the Royal Antler Hotel in Narrabeen, on Sydney's northern beaches in the late 1970s.

Some pubs became associated with particular styles – in the early 1980s, the Civic Hotel in Sydney's CBD provided important support for many emerging local "New Wave
New Wave music
New Wave is a subgenre of :rock music that emerged in the mid to late 1970s alongside punk rock. The term at first generally was synonymous with punk rock before being considered a genre in its own right that incorporated aspects of electronic and experimental music, mod subculture, disco and 1960s...

" acts including Mental As Anything
Mental As Anything
Mental As Anything are an Australian New Wave–rock music band formed at an art school in Sydney in 1976. Their most popular line-up was Martin Plaza on vocals and guitar; Reg Mombassa on lead guitar and vocals; his brother Peter "Yoga Dog" O'Doherty on bass guitar and vocals; Wayne "Bird"...

, Numbers
Numbers (band)
Numbers are an American indie rock band from San Francisco, California.Not to be confused with the New York pop band 'Numbers', who recorded in 1979 and 1980...

, Sunnyboys, INXS and Matt Finish
Matt Finish
Matt Finish are an Australian rock band formed by singer-songwriter/guitarist Matt Moffitt and drummer/composer/producer John Prior in mid 1979....

Other pub-rock venues became renowned for offering a wide variety of music by the best established and emerging acts; venues of this period include the General Bourke Hotel in Adelaide, the Railway Hotel in Richmond, Victoria, the Family Inn in Rydalmere, Sydney, the Hopetoun Hotel in Surry Hills, Sydney and the Sandringham Hotel
Sandringham Hotel, Newtown
The Sandringham Hotel is a pub in the suburb of Newtown in the inner-west of Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia.The pub has a long history and is the spiritual homeland to several of Sydney's bands, including Frenzal Rhomb and The Whitlams. It is known locally as The Sando.Before...

 in Newtown
Newtown, New South Wales
Newtown, a suburb of Sydney's inner west is located approximately four kilometres south-west of the Sydney central business district, straddling the local government areas of the City of Sydney and Marrickville Council in the state of New South Wales, Australia....

, Sydney.

By the end of the 1970s the pub circuit was a major provider of rock music entertainment in Australia and as a result, early tours by many visiting overseas acts from overseas who were becoming popular in Australia included many performances at major city and regional pubs; this included the first Australian tours by bands like XTC
XTC were a New Wave band from Swindon, England, active between 1976 and 2005. The band enjoyed some chart success, including the UK and Canadian hits "Making Plans for Nigel" and "Senses Working Overtime" , but are perhaps even better known for their long-standing critical success.- Early years:...

, The Cure
The Cure
The Cure are an English rock band formed in Crawley, West Sussex in 1976. The band has experienced several line-up changes, with frontman, vocalist, guitarist and principal songwriter Robert Smith being the only constant member...

 and Simple Minds
Simple Minds
Simple Minds are a Scottish rock band who achieved worldwide popularity from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s. The band produced a handful of critically acclaimed albums in the early 1980s and best known for their #1 US, Canada and Netherlands hit single "Don't You ", from the soundtrack of the...

; such bands were often "broken" locally thanks to airplay on the ABC's new non-commercial 24-hour rock radio station Triple J
Triple J
triple j is a nationally networked Australian radio station intended to appeal to listeners between the ages of 18 and 30. The government-funded station is a division of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation...

, which played a wide variety of new music not heard on commercial pop-rock stations, and many international rock acts of the 1980s gained live exposure on the Australian pub circuit before gaining wider acceptance.

Pub rock flourished in the 1980s, and this period is now regarded with a degree of nostalgia, and it has come to be considered something of a "golden age" for Australian post-punk rock music. A number of social and economic trends combined to reduce the flourishing pub-rock circuit to a shadow of its former self.

In the late 1980s Australian state governments began relaxing the laws governing legalised gambling. One of the most significant changes was the controversial decision to allow the placement of poker machines in pubs. Poker machines quickly delivered huge financial returns to pub licensees and it soon became much easier and more profitable for licensees to close the rooms formerly used for music shows and refurbish them as poker machine parlours.

Another related trend that severely affected the pub circuit was the property boom in Australian capital cities in the 1980s. In cities like Sydney, which once boasted dozens of pubs in the central business district alone, rising prices and increased demand for CBD and inner-city properties saw many pubs closed and demolished. Their strategic location made them prime targets for redevelopment, as did the fact that these buildings – which were often only two or three stories high – were relatively easy and cheap to buy up redevelop.

The interlinked process of urban redevelopment and gentrification
Gentrification and urban gentrification refer to the changes that result when wealthier people acquire or rent property in low income and working class communities. Urban gentrification is associated with movement. Consequent to gentrification, the average income increases and average family size...

 also had a major effect on pubs that acted as rock music venues. From the 1970s on, Australian capital-city CBDs began to be redeveloped; many buildings that were once occupied by businesses or offices that operated on a 9-to-5 basis moved to cheaper locations and in the 1990s a significant number of formerly commercial buildings were either demolished to make way for apartment complexes, or were redeveloped for housing.

Another trend that had a significant negative impact on the pub circuit was the process of gentrification in inner-city suburbs in Australian cities. For much of the 20th century, suburbs like Port Melbourne and Newtown (Sydney) were working class, low-income areas with a high proportion of migrants, widely regarded as slums by those in the more affluent areas of the city. However, in the last quarter of the 20th century, the former working-class populations aged and died, or became more affluent and moved to other places. Suburbs like Paddington
Paddington, New South Wales
Paddington is an inner-city, eastern suburb of Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. Paddington is located 3 kilometres east of the Sydney central business district and lies across the local government areas of the City of Sydney and the Municipality of Woollahra...

, Glebe
Glebe, New South Wales
Glebe is an inner-city suburb of Sydney. Glebe is located 3 km south-west of the Sydney central business district and is part of the local government area of the City of Sydney, in the Inner West region....

 and Newtown attracted many younger people because of their colourful character, the availability of cheap rental housing and their proximity to the city and major tertiary institutions like The University of Sydney. Many former students eventually settled in the area and bought property there, and these former "slums" soon became some sought-after locales, beginning a process of gentrification that saw many pub venues put under increasing pressure to restrict their trading hours and limit the amount of noise that emanated from pub gigs, which was often considerable.

The combination of the advent of poker machines and the trends related to property development led to many renowned pub venues ceasing their presentation of music and other events. The inherent value of the property occupied by pubs also led to many more being demolished or developed.

One notable casualty of this trend in Sydney was the former Harold Park Hotel in Glebe. This once thriving pub venue was a popular music venue from the late 1970s to the mid-1990s, and during its heyday in the 1980s, as well as regular rock gigs, it presented a variety of other events including:
  • - "Writers in the Park", a weekly performance forum for authors, which featured an appearance by renowned author Tom Wolfe
    Tom Wolfe
    Thomas Kennerly "Tom" Wolfe, Jr. is a best-selling American author and journalist. He is one of the founders of the New Journalism movement of the 1960s and 1970s.-Early life and education:...

  • - "Comics in the Park", which presented some of the best Australian and overseas comedians, including a legendary impromptu stand-up performance by American comedian Robin Williams
    Robin Williams
    Robin McLaurin Williams is an American actor and comedian. Rising to fame with his role as the alien Mork in the TV series Mork and Mindy, and later stand-up comedy work, Williams has performed in many feature films since 1980. He won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance...

  • the weekly political discussion forum "Politics in the Park"

Australian pub design

The typical Aussie pub differs markedly from the cosy, welcoming, family-friendly "cottage" atmosphere of British pubs. Rapid urban development, coupled with a widespread disregard for Australia's colonial architectural history, has played a large part in this. Most older English pubs have been declared protected heritage sites, since many are now centuries old, but this curatorial attitude is yet to achieve widespread acceptance in Australia, and few pubs in Australia date back further than the second half of the 19th century and some of the grandest Victorian-era pubs have also been destroyed.

Surviving late 19th-century pubs such as the Old Canberra Inn
Old Canberra Inn
The Old Canberra Inn is one of the earliest licensed pubs in the Canberra region, Australia.The original slab hut was built in 1860 by Joseph Schumack and in 1876 it was licenced as an inn. It was a coach stop on the Yass to Queanbeyan run until 1887 when it was sold to John Read...

 in Lyneham
Lyneham, Australian Capital Territory
Lyneham is a suburb of Canberra, Australia in the North Canberra district. It is named after Sir William Lyne, premier of the Australian state of New South Wales from 1899 to 1901. The suburb name was gazetted in 1928, but development did not commence until 1958. The streets of Lyneham are named...

, Australian Capital Territory
Australian Capital Territory
The Australian Capital Territory, often abbreviated ACT, is the capital territory of the Commonwealth of Australia and is the smallest self-governing internal territory...

 are similar to their British antecedents in layout and atmosphere, although many Australian pubs of this era are typically a good deal larger than the average British pub; many are three stories high or more, and they usually include several very spacious bar areas, as well as large accommodation spaces on the upper floors.

Major regional and country pubs dating from the 19th century and early 20th century are often large and imposing structures, and many were lavishly decorated, both inside and out. Because of Australia's high summer temperatures, wide awnings and verandahs were common around pub exteriors, as they were for most colonial-era commercial buildings. Pub verandahs and balconies were often fitted with elaborate iron lace facings and cast-iron columns, because these new mass-produced components were highly fashionable, relatively cheap, and easily transportable. Sometimes, in areas where wood was plentiful, internal decoration included elaborately-carved wooden fretwork panels.

19th century pub interiors often featured very high ceilings – typically four metres (12 feet) or more. Ceilings and upper walls were often embellished with elaborate plaster panels and cornices. Mass-produced embossed tin panelling was widely used when it became available in the late 19th century. Windows were often glazed with decorative leadlight
Leadlights or leaded lights are decorative windows made of small sections of glass supported in lead cames. The technique of creating windows using glass and lead came is discussed at lead came and copper foil glasswork...

 or etched/sandblasted glass panes.

The main bars in the biggest pubs typically featured large and very impressive serving bars, featuring intricately carved and finished wood and/or stone features, with brass rails, ceramic or brass pump handles, tiles, mirrors, etched glass panels and many other types of decoration.

By far the most opulent extant example of the 19th century Australian pub bar is the famed Marble Bar, originally built in the former Tattersall's Hotel in Sydney. Even relatively modest pubs often featured impressive bars carved from native Australian red cedar
Toona ciliata
Australian Red Cedar , Toona ciliata is a forest tree in the family Meliaceae which grows throughout southern Asia from Afghanistan to Papua New Guinea and Australia. In Australia its natural habitat is now extensively cleared subtropical rainforests of New South Wales and Queensland...

 (which was then in plentiful supply) and other native woods, and often embellished with decorative ceramic tiles and marble and/or brass fittings.

Following the consolidation of the brewery industry in the 20th century, many new pubs were built and in large cities many older pubs were either extensively renovated or demolished and replaced with new structures.

Although Australian pubs vary considerably in size and design, it is possible to define a number of distinctive features that describe the 'classic' Australian urban pub of the mid-20th century. The typical Aussie pub was functionally designed, often in a stripped-back Art Deco
Art Deco
Art deco , or deco, is an eclectic artistic and design style that began in Paris in the 1920s and flourished internationally throughout the 1930s, into the World War II era. The style influenced all areas of design, including architecture and interior design, industrial design, fashion and...

 or International Style
International style (architecture)
The International style is a major architectural style that emerged in the 1920s and 1930s, the formative decades of Modern architecture. The term originated from the name of a book by Henry-Russell Hitchcock and Philip Johnson, The International Style...

. Usually two or three-storey structures, they are typically built of brick and/or concrete, making extensive use of prefabricated plaster sheeting and cornices, ceramic tiles and terrazzo
Terrazzo is a composite material poured in place or precast, which is used for floor and wall treatments. It consists of marble, quartz, granite, glass or other suitable chips, sprinkled or unsprinkled, and poured with a binder that is cementitious, chemical or a combination of both...

 in their internal linings.

In layout, urban pubs typically feature several inter-connected bar-rooms of different sizes and designations, usually clustered around a large central bar area with several serving outlets. Many suburban pubs also often include an outdoor or semi-enclosed area known as a "beer garden
Beer garden
Beer garden is an open-air area where beer, other drinks and local food are served. The concept originates from and is most common in Southern Germany...

", where food and drink was served and where (especially in recent years) families with children are able to eat (although children of course cannot be served alcohol and they are not permitted in any other area of the pub).

Larger pubs – especially regional cities and large towns – often included a substantial kitchen and dining room and/or a function room of some kind, such as a ballroom, although this was not common in later urban pubs. A feature common to almost all Australian pubs, whether in the city, the suburbs or in rural and regional areas, was the provision of rooms that could be rented out as accommodation, usually located on the floors above the bars.

Unlike their ornate 19th-century predecessors, 20th century pub bars are relatively spartan in design and decoration. In most pubs the ceilings and upper walls were fairly plain, although some featured moulded Art Deco cornice and ceiling designs. The lower walls were typically tiled for ease of cleaning, and floors were usually paved with terrazzo and/or tiles.

Compared to America and Europe, relatively few large Art Deco and International Style buildings were constructed in Australia in the 1930s and 1940s. Few of these have survived the recent waves of urban redevelopment and most of Australia's fine Art Deco cinemas, shops, restaurants and office buildings were torn down in the late 20th century. Therefore, Australian pubs of the mid-20th century are among the best surviving examples of Art Deco and International Style urban architecture in Australia.

Although these newer pubs were generally far more utilitarian in design than their predecessors, one especially notable decorative feature of Australian pubs developed in the 1920s and 1930s – the iconic paint-on-glass beer advertisement.

This distinctive Australian graphic genre probably evolved from the elaborate back-painted bar mirrors of the 19th century. Often mounted on the outer walls of pubs, these eye-catching pieces were not printed posters or standard paintings. They were elaborate craft products created by teams of skilled commercial artists, many of whom were employed by the breweries for their entire working lives.

The creation of these beer ads was a specialised craft – they were entirely hand-painted in reverse on thick glass, and then wall-mounted in heavy brass frames, which were kept highly polished. Some exterior displays were made with translucent paint, so that they could be illuminated from behind. They featured striking and often highly stylised designs and compositions, painted in vibrant colours, and in many cases the text and some parts of the graphic were accentuated with real gold leaf.

They varied in size, but the larger examples were as much as a square metre in size or more. Like the example below, they typically depicted archetypal 'Aussie' sporting scenes – swimming, surfing, sailing, horse-racing, cricket or football – or social events such as picnics, dances and parties.

Many Deco-style pubs had sections of curved façade, because a large proportion of Australian pubs are built on street corners, and these spaces were often highlighted by the large curved frames of these colourfully painted beer ads.

Because of their inherent fragility and location, many of these marvellous works either deteriorated beyond repair or were destroyed by accident or vandalism. Over the years, as advertising materials (and the pubs themselves) were progressively modernised during the late 20th century, almost all the hand-painted beer ads were removed, but their distinctive style has become well-recognised and much-loved, and they are still a reference point in modern Australian commercial art. The best surviving examples are now museum pieces and expensive collectors' items.

Pubs and social segregation

Perhaps the most striking functional difference between Australian pubs and drinking establishments in other countries is that, for most of their history, Australian pubs were strictly segregated along gender and racial lines.

As author Diane Kirkby has observed: "Masculinity and national identity were ... interwoven with pub culture and the ethnic and sexual exclusivity of that culture was celebrated."

In a controversial move in 2007, a Victorian court granted a Gay Bar
Gay bar
A gay bar is a drinking establishment that caters to an exclusively or predominantly gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender clientele; the term gay is used as a broadly inclusive concept for LGBT and queer communities...

 in Melbourne the right to decline entry from heterosexual men and women, stating that their contribution was not positive and that heterosexual men would come to cause trouble in the bar.

Gender segregation

The main bar of the typical Australian pub, usually the largest, was the so-called "Public Bar". However, this title was an ironic misnomer
A misnomer is a term which suggests an interpretation that is known to be untrue. Such incorrect terms sometimes derive their names because of the form, action, or origin of the subject becoming named popularly or widely referenced—long before their true natures were known.- Sources of misnomers...

, since until the 1970s, only men were permitted to drink in Public Bars.

Most pubs included a "Ladies' Lounge", furnished with chairs and tables, where women and men could drink together, but in many pubs women were usually only admitted to the Lounge Bar when accompanied by a male. It was also common for women not to be allowed to buy drinks for themselves.

Sexual segregation in pubs persisted into the 1970s and only began to break down after women's rights activists began to publicly challenge the convention. One of the most famous incidents in this informal campaign took place in January 1973, when a group of feminist activists staged a protest against the rule in the Public Bar of the Hotel Manly in Sydney.

When they entered and ordered drinks they were refused service by the publican, who disingenuously claimed that the hotel had insufficient toilet facilities to cater for women. The women's response – deliberately echoing the tactics of the early Suffragettes – was to chain themselves to a railing that ran around the bar. The event gained wide media attention and caused the hotel industry considerable embarrassment; within a few years this long-standing sexist convention had virtually disappeared in most urban areas, and it was eventually enforced by state and federal anti-discrimination legislation.

Women in pubs

Historian Diane Kirkby has made a detailed examination of the role of women in the history of the Australian pub. She has found that, despite their long history of gender segregation, pubs provided an important source of income for many women.

Widowhood and wife desertion were much more common in 19th-century Australia than today, and in the absence of any social safety-net for single mothers, women had to explore every available option to provide for their families, especially in remote areas. Pub-keeping provided jobs not only for widows and deserted wives, but also for many female ex-convicts.

It was comparatively lucrative work, so pub-keeping became a welcome and preferred option for many women. The evolution of the 'classic' pub and the women's roles in the pub developed concurrently in the mid-19th century, when the term "barmaid" first came into common usage.

Barmaids, like many other working women, had to fight against the 'traditional' gender challenges of lower pay rates and social stigmatisation. Unlike other classes of working women, such as domestic servants and shop staff, barmaids were often stigmatised and shunned. This discrimination was exacerbated by the "morals" campaigns that were waged around Australia from the 1880s to the 1920s, and religiously-motivated temperance activists deliberately fostered a negative image of the barmaid as a "loose woman" who lured men into pubs to drink and squander their money.

The reality was often the exact opposite. Barmaids typically prided themselves on their ability to pour, chat, and keep a clean bar simultaneously – not to mention their ability to support themselves and their family – and they deeply resented this characterization by prohibitionists, but the stereotype stuck. Even though many barmaids loved the job because it offered better pay and greater freedom than typical female occupations like household servants, barmaids remained the object of scorn by 'proper' society.

Pubs as accommodation

Accommodation was another vital facet of Australian pub operation, and indeed it is the origin of the pub's "proper" business title – Australian pubs are usually registered for business under the formal name "hotel", and the more upmarket pubs often reversed this, placing the word "Hotel" before the name (e.g. the Hotel Australia).

Many city, suburban and country pubs offered reasonably-priced accommodation, as well as dining facilities for visitors and business people, and this tradition continues, with pubs joining together in an accommodation cooperative that operates under the name "PubStay".

Country-town and rural hotels were of crucial importance in the years before the advent of the motel
A motor hotel, or motel for short, is a hotel designed for motorists, and usually has a parking area for motor vehicles...

 and modern budget hotel chains. Moreover, licensing laws often required the provision of a minimum level of accommodation, differentiating hotels from bars which themselves came under pressure from de-licensing legislation from the late 1890s onwards. Until the later 20th century, a significant proportion of tourists, commercial travellers, business people and touring performers in Australia regularly relied on pub accommodation. As one former commercial traveller lamented in a recent ABC Radio social history feature, the end of the era of pub accommodation also led to the disintegration of the social networks that centred on rural and regional pubs.

City and suburban pubs were an important accommodation source for country people visiting the cities for major events, such the annual Sydney Royal Easter Show
Sydney Royal Easter Show
The Sydney Royal Easter Show, also known as the Royal Easter Show or simply The Show, is an annual show held in Sydney, Australia over two weeks around Easter.It is run by the Royal Agricultural Society of New South Wales and was first held in 1823...

. For single people, pubs also offered an alternative to boarding houses or rental housing, with many pubs renting rooms to long-term tenants who lived and ate at the pub, sometimes over periods of several decades.
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