- Australian pubs
A public house or pub for short in Australia is an establishment performing many functions, often serving alcoholic beverages, meals, and providing basic accommadation
The Australian pub is a direct descendant of the English pub. 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
European colonisation of Australiaafter 1788. However, in the nineteenth century the local version evolved a number of distinctive features that set it apart from the classic British pub.
In many cases, pubs were the first structures built in newly-colonised areas (especially on the
goldfields) and new towns often grew up around them. Pubs typically served multiple functions, simultaneously serving as hostelry, post office, restaurant, meeting place and sometimes even general store.
Nineteenth century development
Pubs proliferated during the nineteenth century, especially during the
Gold Rushthat 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 nineteenth-century architectural heritage. State capitals like Melbourneand Adelaide, and large regional cities and towns such as Kalgoorliein Western Australiastill boast some examples, and many other nineteenth century pubs survive in country towns.
Among the colonial-era hotels, now lost to development, were the Bellevue Hotel in
Brisbane(demolished in the 1980s) 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) 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 establishment.
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
Italyand Greecewine 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 twentieth century and while the wine industry grew steadily, wine did not become a major consumer drink until the late twentieth century. Therefore for most of the period between 1800 and 1950 alcohol production and consumption in Australia rapidly 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 nineteenth century growing pressure from
conservative Christiangroups -- the TemperanceLeagues -- led to the imposition of stricter licensing laws in all Australian states. The new legislation 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.Dubious|date=March 2008
These 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 twentieth 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 10am to 6pm, Monday to Saturday. Some pubs were granted special licences to open and close earlier -- e.g. opening at 6am and closing at 3pm -- 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 Federation of Australiain 1901, Australia's new system of federal government meant that the Commonwealth of Australiahad no power to legislate in this area, so each state enacted and enforced its own liquor licensing regulations. One outcome was that the relatively strict state liquor licensing regimes, and the absence of federal powers in this area, meant that the Prohibitionlobby in Australia was unable to achieve a nationwide ban on the sale of alcohol. Although liquor sales remained heavily restricted for many years, Australia therefore did not experience the many social ills -- including the vast expansion of organised crime-- that were created by 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
pilsenerstyle 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.
The dominance of chilled pilsener beer was further reinforced by 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-productiontechniques during the late nineteenth century and new modes of transport came into operation.
By the 1900s the major brewing firms had become very large vertically integrated businesses -- they owned their own breweries and ran their own truck fleets and distribution networks, and most of the major brewers owned large chains of pubs in each state capital and in major cities and towns; these premises were typically operated on a
leaseholdbasis 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 as 'in-house" sub-brands, such as "Tooth's KB Lager" and "Resch's Pilsener" and "DA" ("Dinner Ale"). By the mid-1900s the brewing industry was dominated by a handful of large and powerful state-based companies -- the Tooth's and Toohey's in Sydney, Foster's in Melbourne, Castlemaine in Brisbane, 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; the Fosters and Castlemaine-Tooheys empires now control significant segments of the 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
Temperancegroups 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 "
Wowsers" (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 dayuntil 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 6pm, workers would commonly head for the nearest pub as soon as they finished work at 5pm, 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".
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 10pm.
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". 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 clientèle and aggravating factors like the Six O'Clock Swill regularly led to violent clashes between inebriated patrons.
One formerly infamous Sydney pub, originally called The Welcome Inn, located in Sussex St, Sydney, was in earlier days a regular haunt for the waterside workers at Sydney's
Darling Harbourdockyards. Because of its notoriously rough and dangerous clientèle, the pub became known colloquially as "The Bunch of C**ts", which was often abbreviated to "The Buncha".
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 Hotelin Sydney's The Rocks) 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
gamblingis 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) 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, which was extremely popular during the 19th and earlier 20th century. It is most often associated with the celebration of Anzac Dayon April 25 each year. In the years after World War I, it became traditional that, after the 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 musicin 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 stadia. 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, Cold Chisel, Midnight Oiland INXS-- 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 Hotelin 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 Hotelin Narrabeen, on Sydney's northern beaches in the late 1970s.
Some pubs became associated with particular styles -- in the early 1980s, the
Civic Hotelin Sydney's CBD provided important support for many emerging local "New Wave" acts including Mental As Anything, Numbers, Sunnyboys, INXSand Matt Finish.
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 Hotelin Adelaide, the Railway Hotelin Richmond, Victoria, the Family Innin Rydalmere, Sydney, the Hopetoun Hotelin Surry Hills, Sydney and the Sandringham Hotelin Newtown, 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, The Cureand Simple Minds; such bands were often "broken" locally thanks to airplay on the ABC's new non-commercial 24-hour rock radio station Triple Jay, 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
gentrificationalso 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, Glebeand Newtownattracted 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 gentrificationthat saw many 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 Hotelin 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
*- "Comics in the Park", which presented some of the best Australian and overseas comedians, including a legendary impromptu stand-up performance by American comedian
* 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 Innin Lyneham, Australian Capital Territoryare 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 1800s and early 1900s 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 lacefacings 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
leadlightor 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 Tattersal's Hotel in Sydney. Even relatively modest pubs often featured impressive bars carved from native western red cedar(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 Decoor 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 terrazzoin 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", 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
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 1900s. 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." [http://australianpubs.20megsfree.com/custom.html]
In a controversial move in 2007, a Victorian court granted a
Gay Barin 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 [ [http://www.365gay.com/newschannel/newschannel.htm 365 Gay reports on Melbourne Gay Bar banning Straight men] ] [ [http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D8PEAQRG0&show_article=1 Australian Gay Bar Can Bar Heterosexuals] ] .
The main bar of the typical Australian pub, usually the largest, was the so-called "Public Bar". However, this title was an ironic
misnomer, 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 nineteenth-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.
For almost their entire history, Australian pubs perpetuated Australian governmental policies of racial discrimination against Aboriginal Australians. Until the mid 20th century Aboriginal people were banned from entering or being served in most pubs in Australia, as they were at many other public establishments such as swimming baths.
Although this repellent practice began to change (albeit very slowly) after Aboriginal Australians were granted full citizenship rights in 1967, it is still common for Aboriginal people to be refused service in pubs in rural and regional areas, but it also still happens even in big cities.
A recent example from the early 1990s involved the distinguished Aboriginal musician and educator
Mandawuy Yunupingu, lead singer of the renowned rock band Yothu Yindiand 1992 Australian Of The Year. Yunupingu had come to Melbourne to receive an ARIA award in recognition of the huge international success of the group's hit song "Treaty". At the awards ceremony, he was feted and the group was given a standing ovation by their peers but, later that evening when they went to a St Kilda bar (Catani Bar Cafe) to celebrate their success, Yunupingu was refused service and asked to leave. This led to a small picket protest action outside the bar.
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
moteland modern budget hotel chains. 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 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. 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 the pub, sometimes over periods of several decades.
References / Further Information
(Cassell, Melbourne, 1968)
Barmaids: A History of Women's Work in Pubs 1790-1990s"
(Cambridge University Press, 1997)
"Down at the Local: A social history of the hotels of Kensington and Norwood"
(Wakefield Press, Kent Town, SA)
"Beyond The Ladies' Lounge: Australia's Female Publicans"
(Melbourne University Press, Carlton, 2003)
* Abernethy & Dittmar, "Every Pub Volume 2" - 611 Hotels in South Australia [http://everypub.com.au/]
Pub paintings in the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney
Saloon bar of the Imperial Hotel, Erskineville, Sydney
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