Every Australian country town has one: a country pub where locals gather to exchange tall tales and sink ice-cold beer. Invariably called the Criterion, the Commercial or the Railway Hotel, these pubs are part of the fabric of rural Australia. Here are Queensland’s best.
The Woombye Pub
A golden oldie, The Woombye Pub once served as a staging post for Cobb & Co. coaches as they galloped between Brisbane and the Gympie goldfields. These days, the cosy Sunshine Coast venue is hugely popular for its Parmageddon Wednesdays, Pub Pong (that’s ping-pong) and dedicated kids’ room.
3-5 Blackall Street, Woombye; (07) 5442 1155
The mix of locals and tourists lends a spirited atmosphere to this hotel built in 1885. The front bar is all big hats and tall tales, where conversation ranges from dinosaur fossils to the discovery of the fabled night parrot. Diners take tables under the balcony for the extensive surf-versus- turf menu.
78 Elderslie Street, Winton; (07) 4657 1309
The Court House Hotel
The heritage “Courty”, a palm- fringed Queenslander in the Tropical North, is mobbed by a motley crew – everyone from backpackers to bikers – who love the laid-back vibe. Order a steak sanger and a craft beer.
Corner of Wharf Street and Macrossan Street, Port Douglas; (07) 4099 5181
The Lions Den Hotel
If you’re heading to Cooktown, call in for a cold drink at The Lions Den, about 70 kilometres north of Cape Tribulation. Made from tin scraps, it’s covered in quirky decorations and thousands of travellers’ signatures. The nearby swimming hole is a great spot to cool off.
398 Shiptons Flat Road, Rossville; (07) 4060 3911
The Imperial Hotel Eumundi
This grand 1911 Queenslander, located in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, was given a slick makeover in 2015. It’s a drawcard for creative types who mooch here from the weekly market. Kill your thirst with a few Eumundi Lagers and look out for the resident ghost, Margaret.
1 Etheridge Street, Eumundi; (07) 5442 8811
Bull & Barley Inn
A 25-minute drive from Toowoomba, the immaculately restored Bull & Barley dates back to 1902 and has retained many of its original features. Snuggle up in front of an ornate fireplace in the dining room or feast on a country- size steak on the wraparound verandah.
61 Eton Street, Cambooya; (07) 4696 1235
This is a popular car-club pit stop and, on any given Sunday, there may be a collection of gleaming Pontiacs, old Fords, and even vintage tractors parked outside. Built in the 1880s, “The Dugie”, outside Boonah in the Scenic Rim region, is renowned for well- priced steaks that come with both provenance and tasting notes, as well as live-music Sunday sessions in the shady beer garden.
Corner of Mt French Road and Rathdowney Road, Dugandan; (07) 5463 1048
The Old Britannia
A deconstructed beef-and- Guinness pie with mash is one of the gastropub options on the menu of this character- filled inn in the Lockyer Valley, south-west of Brisbane. Recently reopened with a name change and a refresh, The Old Britannia has loads of heritage features, including the original pressed-tin ceilings and timber floorboards.
Corner of Patrick Street and William Street, Laidley; (07) 5418 6068
Montville Café Bar Grill
Peak business here is on the weekends, when punters who want to enjoy a few drinks in dappled sunshine pour into the landscaped beer garden. The Tudor-style hotel in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland is a favourite for its pub grub, too – polish off a rack of ribs with a few Yenda Pale Ales.
Main Street, Montville; (07) 5468 5535
The Front Bar of The Birdsville Hotel
The entertainment here is on the walls, which are plastered with outback memorabilia, from hats to road signs. No outback trip is complete without calling in to this iconic pub and checking it out.
Adelaide Street, Birdsville; (07) 4656 3244
Steele Rudd is said to have penned many of his colourful Dad and Dave stories in this neat little Darling Downs pub, which pays homage to the celebrated author.
45 Tooth Street, Nobby; (07) 4696 3211
Licensed since 1864, the sprawling Colonial pile near the NSW border starred in the Hugh Jackman and Claudia Karvan flick Paperback Hero (1999). But it’s the outback hospitality – and monster burgers – that it’s really famous for.
Carnarvon Highway, Nindigully; (07) 4625 9637
This stately Queenslander, also known as the Lake Eacham Hotel, is lined with old photos and is a magnet for local characters. Built in 1910, it’s known throughout the Atherton Tablelands for its verandah jam sessions.
6 Kehoe Place, Yungaburra; (07) 4095 3515
North Gregory Hotel
Australia’s unofficial anthem, Waltzing Matilda, was first performed here in 1895 (Banjo Paterson wrote the song in Winton earlier that year) by Herbert Ramsay, a local stock and station agent. Visit northgregoryhotel.com.
67 Elderslie Street, Winton; (07) 4657 0647
The Purple Pub
In the shadow of the Gulf of Carpentaria, this pub is famous for being, well, purple. No-one can recall when or why it was painted such a hue – and no-one cares as long as the beer is cold.
92 Landsborough Street, Normanton; (07) 4745 1324
Watch the sun slide into the Gulf of Carpentaria from the beer garden as you enjoy just-caught barramundi with chips or a bucket of local prawns.
2 Ward Street, Karumba; (07) 4745 9183
Beer is crafted on site in the gleaming steel tanks that form the backdrop of this Scandustrial-designed brewpub on the Blackall Range. Order a hand-pulled pale ale with your plate of Brouhaha-beer-battered fish and chips.
6/39 Coral Street, Maleny; (07) 5435 2018
Max Anderson, Lee Atkinson, Keith Austin, Melanie Ball, Max Brearley, Hilary Burden, Mal Chenu, Mark Chipperfield, Carla Grossetti, Kendall Hill, Belinda Jackson and Natascha Mirosch.
Top image: Dugandan Hotel