South Australia’s country pubs are worthy of exploration, whether it’s fishing village inns, riverside taverns or historic German alehouses deep in wine country.
Verland Corner Hotel
This National Trust-owned property sits on the banks of the Murray, about 45 kilometres west of Renmark. It began life in 1859, serving thirsty drovers (and fugitives – the bushranger Captain Moonlite drank here) before becoming a general store and post office. Today, it’s serving beer once again – as well as saltbush lamb shanks, historical displays and tales of resident ghosts.
205 Old Coach Road, Overland Corner; (08) 8588 7021
North Star Hotel
Adelaide’s mountain-bike riders think nothing of driving 270 kilometres to Melrose
for some Southern Flinders action. The North Star
meets them head-on with
its far-flung fusion of country pub and urban chic, as well
as a savvy menu and wine list. It has hipster rooms upstairs and cool cabins made from converted trucks (yes, really).
43 Nott Street, Melrose; (08) 8666 2110
Marion Bay Tavern
This popular modern tavern
is made from recycled timber and corrugated iron, giving the place a beachy vibe. It’s a short walk from the surf that attracts so many people to this southern corner of the Yorke Peninsula. You’d expect the menu to be seafood-heavy but the signature dish is a Scotch fillet. Order it and if you’re there on a weekend, listen out for the live music.
5 Stenhouse Bay Road, Marion Bay; (08) 8854 4141
The venerable Hahndorf
Inn was serving German- speaking settlers of the eponymous Adelaide Hills village back in 1863. These days, you’ll lose count of the languages being spoken there, with tourists gathered around carved wooden tables to hoist steins and devour pork hock, sauerkraut and even metre-long German sausages. Kitsch? Sure, but it’s also fun and the food is very good.
35-39 Mount Barker Road, Hahndorf; (08) 8388 7063
Perched on the eastern tip of the island, just off South Australia, this old stone pub offers thoughtful bistro fare, a decent range of draught beers and accommodation for holiday-makers. Find a spot on the pub’s sunny outdoor deck and watch the SeaLink ferry making its way to and from the mainland.
North Terrace, Penneshaw; (08) 8553 1042
Similar in design to the pubs of England’s West Country, this delightful 1858 stone inn is a must-visit when you’re in the fishing village of Robe, near Victoria’s border. Apart from the tiny wood-panelled bar, the newly refurbished “Cally” has a beer garden and an upscale restaurant serving Limestone Coast produce.
1 Victoria Street, Robe; (08) 8768 2029
The Marree Hotel
Before venturing onto the Oodnadatta Track, get your bearings over a beer at The Marree Hotel. The Tom Kruse Room commemorating the legendary Birdsville Track mailman puts the desert location in context (next stop, Coober Pedy); the upstairs balcony suites overlook relics of the railhead; and the hotel’s front bar is frequented by descendants of the Afghan cameleers.
Railway Terrace South, Marree; (08) 8675 8344
Port Victoria Hotel-Motel
This corner pub overlooks the “Port Vic” jetty on the Yorke Peninsula. Ideally, you’d catch whiting off the jetty before repairing to this 1877 pub’s sunny new deck to celebrate. The skippers of racing windjammers used to sup here; their photos are on show in the tiny maritime museum.
1 Main Street, Port Victoria; (08) 8834 2069
The location on Lincoln Cove Marina – home to the largest fishing fleet in the Southern Hemisphere – presents an endless procession of vessels, whether you’re hoisting a cold one in the bar or hoeing into a seafood basket on the deck. Visit marinahotel.com.au.
13 Jubilee Drive, Port Lincoln; (08) 8682 6141
The balcony may be a touch creaky but, at roughly 450 metres above sea level, the 1873 Scenic Hotel lives up
to its name with its outlook onto the Adelaide Plains. The fresh air and a robust menu (featuring signature dishes such as kangaroo fillet with bourbon sweet-potato mash) add to this elevated pub experience.
Norton Sumit Road, Norton Sumit; (08) 8390 1705
The Salopian Inn
A genre-hopping menu (from Sichuan-salted duck to Rajasthani lamb curry),
a good choice of local wine and more than 230 artisan gins bring a steady stream of food-lovers from Adelaide. Visit saloian.com.au.
Corner of Main Road and McMurtrie Road, McLaren Vale; (08) 8323 8769
The Uraidla Hotel
This unprepossessing Adelaide Hills pub was lavishly reinvented last year as a hub of boho comforts. The menu makeover was no less radical: goodbye counter meat pie; hello Berkshire pig, Flinders Ranges rabbit and Northern Territory buffalo.
1198 Greenhill Road, Uraidla; (08) 8390 0500
Surrounded by arid country north-west of the Flinders Ranges, the Prairie is a most unlikely gastropub. It’s been serving fine feral tucker (as in kangaroo, emu, camel and the like) for 26 years.
Corner of High Street and West Terrace, Parachilna; (08) 8239 2296
Brendan Leslie, the chef at this 154-year-old pub, is a locavore devotee, serving up the likes of sous-vide Clare Valley Gold rump steak and Clare Rise Bakery bread.
Main North Road, Sevenhill; (08) 8843 4217
Not surprisingly, the restaurant at this bayside Yorke Peninsula hotel has
a focus on seafood. Look out for Buck a Shuck nights, when local oysters go for $1 each in the front bar.
1 Anzac Parade, Stansbury; (08) 8852 4202
The “Vic”, which is an hour’s drive south of Adelaide, has one of the largest wine lists in the state – and an impressive 8000-bottle cellar in which you can dine. Be sure to book ahead.
Main South Road, Sellicks Hill; (08) 8556 3083
Perched on the banks
of the Murray River, this 100-year-old woolshed still has a whiff of lanolin, rivalled by the scent of brewing from the on-site Wilkadene microbrewery, which creates ales, stouts and ciders using local ingredients. Order
a tasting paddle.
65 Wilkinson Road, Murtho; (08) 8595 8188
Streaky Bay Hotel Motel
The local’s pretty important when you’re as isolated as Streaky Bay – the Nullarbor
is three hours’ drive one way and Port Lincoln is three hours the other. This foreshore hotel is rarely short of patrons and features fresh sea air, spacious bars and three dining areas. If you feel like stopping over longer, it also has handsome balcony rooms overlooking the bay.
33 Alfred Terrace, Streaky Bay; (08) 8626 1008
The Woodside Hotel
Apart from being one of the prettiest villages in the Adelaide Hills, Woodside is home to a fantastic cheese shop and this authentic country pub. Despite encroaching gentrification, the two-storey hotel, with its considerable front bar, retains its 19th-century charm. And the pub fare (think schnitzel and steaks) is well priced.
34 Onkaparinga Valley Road, Woodside; (08) 8389 7140
Contributors: 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.