Live music in former sly grog houses, grand odes to beer erected during the Gold Rush and an encounter with a regular for whom the question “Why the long face?” could be apt (he’s a horse) are just some of the things to experience at Western Australia’s idiosyncratic country pubs.
Mundaring Weir Hotel
Established in 1898 to control sly grog, this Perth Hills pub is now celebrated for its summer concert series: pianist David Helfgott has performed many times in the outdoor amphitheatre.
Corner of Mundaring Weir Road and Hall Road, Mundaring; (08) 9295 1106
The Roebuck Bay Hotel
Australian legends such as Paul Kelly, The Angels and Icehouse have all performed at the outdoor Oasis Bar at “The Roey”. It’s not bad during the day, either, when it transforms into a beer garden.
33 Carnavon Street, Broome; (08) 9192 1221
Listen to cracking live music (including weekly open mic nights) from Thursday to Sunday while rubbing shoulders with the Margaret River region’s winemakers at the “Tav”.
114 Bussell Highway, Margaret River; (08) 9757 2398
This 1912 pub in the state’s South West is the perfect place to warm yourself by the fire after a morning of winter whale-watching. It’s positioned where the Blackwood River meets Flinders Bay and the Southern Ocean beyond.
53 Blackwood Avenue, Augusta; (08) 9758 1944
Established in 1897, the Palace grew fat on the Golden Mile and was famously patronised by mine manager (and later American president) Herbert Hoover. It retains some of its former grandeur, with generous balconies, lavish décor and sweeping staircases. The Gold Bar is downstairs, while the more refined Balcony Bar and Restaurant is a cut above.
Corner of Hannan Street and Maritana Street, Kalgoorlie; (08) 9021 2788
A horse walks into a bar... seriously. Willie is one of the regulars at the Grand Hotel, on the Golden Outback tourist route, 200 kilometres north of Kalgoorlie. Kookynie is now all but a ghost town but you can still get a beer and a feed. And finally find out what’s with the long face.
34 Britannia Street, Kookynie; (08) 9031 3010
A wall of Enomatic machines dispenses a large selection of South West wines by the glass and the menu is packed with the region’s produce, from the humble potato to the noble truffle. The tavern opened in mid-2015 in a cleverly renovated former auto-mechanic workshop and, in 2016, won the Australian Hotels Association (WA) award for the Best Steak Sandwich in country Western Australia.
88 Giblett Street, Manjimup; (08) 9777 2052
In-house butcher Martin Morgan is well known as a master of charcuterie and Due South, a tavern and restaurant, also mills its own flour for fresh bread daily.
6 Toll Place, Albany; (08) 9841 8526
Deep in karri country, the “Pemby”, a double-storey pub with wraparound verandahs that was built in 1926, harks back to a time when timber was king. A solid menu is the cornerstone here – perfect after a day of exploring the Southern Forests.
66 Brockman Street, Pemberton; (08) 9776 1017
Formerly the Quokka Arms, this upscale pub, 20 kilometres off the coast from Fremantle, overlooks gorgeous Thomson Bay, where the playthings of boaties bob in impossibly blue water. A stone’s throw from the jetty, think primo accommodation (book well in advance), superb WA wines and locally sourced food. Order the crayfish.
1 Bedford Avenue, Rottnest Island; (08) 9292 5011
Earl of Spencer
Established in 1884, the Earl is renowned for its generous servings of classic pub food, a range of boutique beers on tap, imported English ales and wines from the Great Southern region. With open fires, a kids’ playground and live music on weekends, this is very much a family venue.
60 Earl Street, Albany; (08) 9847 4262
Matso’s Broome Brewery
Alcoholic ginger and mango beers have given Matso’s Broome Brewery more than 15 minutes of fame. There are chilli and lychee brews, too, which you can drink on the verandah overlooking Roebuck Bay.
60 Hamersley Street, Broome; (08) 9193 5811
A solid-jarrah tasting bar greets drinkers at The Cidery, as does a roster of traditional ciders made from local (Manjimup) apple varieties. If cider isn’t your tipple, the Blackwood Valley Brewing Company also calls this home. A line-up of English ales in the pub-style snug is fitting, not faux.
43 Gifford Road, Bridgetown; (08) 9761 2204
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: Settlers Tavern