Ever got the craving and travelled lengthy distances for that perfect rib-eye steak or an icy cold beverage?
Since you’re not averse to spending a little time in the car for a reward of the gourmet (food) kind, take our friendly word for it that these outback watering holes are worth the slightly longer drive for huge smiles, friendly service and refreshing beer, of course!
The Purple Pub, Normanton
- Population of town: 1,328
- Kilometres from Brisbane: 2,085
- Famous for: Being literally cladded purple
Jumping out like a barramundi snagged on the end of a fishing line, the Purple Pub in Normanton Shire – home to 1,000 locals – catches the eye of every passer-by. Painted bright purple with yellow and red signage, this oasis glistening in the sandy Savannah grasslands lies 2,000 kilometres west of Brisbane.
Here publicans treat travellers with comfortable accommodation and an outdoor restaurant that’s best enjoyed after a sunset croc spotting tour or Gulflander train journey from nearby Croydon.
Tattersalls Hotel, Winton
- Population of town: 954
- Kilometres from Brisbane: 1,355
- Famous for: The best Outback ‘tucker’
This two-storey Queensland pub in Winton is renowned for the best ‘tucker’ in town. The quaint town of Winton is known for its prehistoric finds (ahem, dinosaur country) and is recognised as one of the founders of the Australian airline Qantas and the birthplace of the Waltzing Matilda anthem.
Marvel at all the history of this pub, by kicking back on the ‘Tatts’ verandah with a meaty steak and Guinness or Kilkenny (served on tap), and spot kangaroos bounding down the main street at dusk after a day of exploring the town.
Isa Hotel, Mount Isa
- Population of town: 22,784
- Kilometres from Brisbane: 1,823
- Famous for: Its ‘Las Vegas’ atmosphere, with a rustic Outback Queensland twist
Neighbours the Isa Hotel and RedEarth Hotel have joined forces to create a ‘Las Vegas’ style precinct smack-bang in the centre of cowboy capital, Mount Isa. The linking air-bridge between both properties services 40 standard rooms and 70 high-end plush suites, making transitioning from the Rodeo Bar and Grill, gaming lounge, bottle shop, beer garden and cocktail lounge back to your room a ‘cinche.
It’s a popular stop-over for mining workers accessing the nearby copper, lead, zinc and silver mines, so be sure to brush up on your mineral knowledge for mingling at the bars.
- Population of town: 3
- Kilometres from Brisbane: 1,524
- Famous for: Its remote location and Burke and Wills history
The remote town of Middleton – named so after a member of the 1862 expedition to find Burke and Wills, led by John McKinlay – lies near picturesque Cawnpore Lookout on The Lilleyvale Hills in the Winton Shire.
In its heyday, the town’s Middleton Hotel was serviced by the busy traffic passing through. But now the restored single-storey pub – built in 1876 by a farrier named Wiggins – is a novelty for folk daring to try a true-blue outback pub experience.
Western Star Hotel, Windorah
- Population of town: 158
- Kilometres from Brisbane: 1,199
- Famous for: The International Yabby Races
The Western Star Hotel was built in 1878 by Patsy Durack, a short 1,200 kilometres west of Brisbane in the Barcoo Shire of Windorah. These days, publicans Ian and Marilyn welcome guests to stay in four comfortable motel and six hotel rooms, with a convenient grill serving up brekkie, lunch and dinner daily.
Travellers flock here to witness the solar farm, the International Yabby Races and the natural attraction of the Barcoo and Thomson River’s joining forces to form Coopers Creek northwest of the pub.
- Population of town: 106
- Kms from Brisbane: 1,331
- Famous for: Welcoming hospitality
Not many people know whereabouts the tiny outback town of Stonehenge is. The secret is that it’s just two-and-a-half hours south of Longreach, along the Thomson Development Road. Stonehenge is home to one of the country’s most important military bases (shhh) and the gateway to the Lochern National Park.
Step inside this hotel and you’re guaranteed a warm welcoming smile right from the very heart of town. Be sure to look up for the man trap hanging above the bar!
Gregory Downs Hotel
- Population of town: 40
- Kilometres from Brisbane: 2,033
- Famous for: Neighbouring Lawn Hill (Boodjamulla) National Park
The old Gregory Downs Hotel sits at the end of the bitumen 967 kilometres west of Cairns, before you head into God’s country at Lawn Hill (Boodjamulla) National Park. The historic single-storey Queenslander with wrap-around verandahs was originally built to serve passengers on the coach run from Burketown.
With the town home to just 40 locals, the pub provides for canoeing and fishing enthusiasts who venture west to access the nearby spring-fed Gregory River, which flows year-round with barramundi and sooty grunter.
Have you visited any of these iconic outback pubs? Which is your favourite?