Forget pulling up at a servo hot-box in a town you can’t even recall the name of. Half the point of going outback is to make a memorable stop and support one of many quintessential, family-owned Aussie pubs.
Quench your thirst and belly inside their historic walls, lined in quirky Akubras and where you’re welcomed to rub shoulders with the locals at their handmade camphaloral bars.
These are seven of Outback Queensland’s best watering holes.
1. Birdsville Hotel
- Population of town: 120
- Kilometres from Brisbane: 1,578
- Famous for: Being a destination in its own right
Possibly more famous than Kim Kardashian’s booty, the Birdsville Hotel strikes an impressive pose against the red dust and aircraft hangers parked out front. After hours (and hours) of driving to tick this national icon off your bucket list, it’s the bang-on outback hospitality, cold ales and Channel Country beef steaks that has kept folks returning since 1884 #arewethereyet?
Looking for a road trip where the finish line is the pub? Then it’s time to road trip the Warrego Way.
2. Blue Heeler Hotel, Kyuna
- Population of town: 10
- Kilometres from Brisbane: 1,519
- Famous for: Tourist ‘pubobilia’ covering the walls and the resident Brolga popping in to say g’day
Spot Kynuna’s Blue Heeler Hotel by the blue and pink neon sign beckoning from the Matilda Way to pull in and drink to man’s best friend (the working dog). Standing just north of the Combo Waterhole, it’s no surprise Banjo Paterson himself frequented here, and it’s said both the Waltzing Matilda’s swagman and the squatter had their last drinks inside these walls.
3. North Gregory Hotel, Winton
- Population of town: 1,000
- Kilometres from Brisbane: 1,355
- Famous for: Waltzing Matilda
Winton’s famed North Gregory Hotel lies north of Longreach, where the dinosaurs once roamed the inland sea. It also claims to be the first place Waltzing Matilda was publically sung, in April 1895. Since this time, the original hotel burned down but has been tastefully restored with an elegant 1950’s art deco brick replica now paying tribute to the melody through its architecture and furnishings.
4. Wellshot Hotel, Ilfracombe
- Population of town: 350
- Kilometres From Brisbane: 1,149
- Famous for: Its cash filled ceiling
Blink and you may miss town of Ilfracombe, home to the Machinery Mile and quaint Wellshot Hotel, spotted between Barcaldine and Longreach. In 1890 the famed Wellshot Hotel found her permanent home after being relocated multiple times along the railway line by bullock and cart. With a wool press bar, hat collection, quirky seating and currency stuck to her ceiling, she’s worthy of more than a few Instagram snaps.
5. Shakespeare Hotel, Barcaldine
- Population of town: 1,500
- Kilometres from Brisbane: 1,070
- Famous for: 300g rump and pork/lamb chops
Barcaldine still reflects how life was enjoyed during the late 1880s gold rush era, with pubs in every direction. Nowadays, ‘Barcy’ remains a popular watering hole where the town’s main street is lined historic hotels including the well-positioned Shakespeare Hotel (better known as the ‘Shakey’). This two-storey beauty overlooks the railway station and Tree of Knowledge ghost-gum – regarded as the birthplace of the Australian Labor Party.
Time your trip with the Barcaldine Tree of Knowledge Festival to take the town in (and its pubs) in all its glory.
6. Walkabout Creek Hotel, McKinlay
- Population of town: 10
- Kilometres from Brisbane: 1,595
- Famous for: Being Crocodile Dundee’s waterhole
What the town of McKinlay lacks in numbers by population, it makes up for in celebrity status. Paul Hogan’s Crocodile Dundee gives the town’s Walkabout Creek Hotel its claim to fame. Built in 1990, the hotel is where Mick is featured kicking back on the wrap-around verandah with a pint in hand. Filled with movie memorabilia, the Matilda Way landmark sends movie buffs into a selfie frenzy.
7. Noccundra Hotel
- Population of town: 2
- Kilometres from Brisbane: 1,142
- Famous for: A remote and rustic dining experience
The town of Noccundra was established in 1882 due to the construction of the Noccundra sandstone hotel. Supporting Cobb & Co stagecoaches in its heyday, the two-person township now services the modern-day travellers along the Adventure Way, arriving by car, caravan or lightcraft by the dozen.
Have you been to any of these outback pubs? Got a tale to share?
Tell us in the comments below.