Chardy, Champers & Plonk: Australian Pubs & Breweries On The Trans-Oceania Cycling Tour
“Oh, it’s a lonesome away from your kindred and all,
By the campfire at night we’ll hear the wild dingoes call,
But there’ s nothing so lonesome, morbid or drear,
Than to stand in the bar of a pub with no beer.”
– The Pub With No Beer (Slim Dusty)
Given Australians’ good natured rowdiness and fondness for cold beverages, it is unlikely that the riders on the Trans-Oceania Cycling Tour will ever lack for a beer or a friend at the bar. As Lonely Planet puts it, “You’re in the right country if you’re in need of a drink.”
Australian Beer terminology
You can order a beer at the pub as a schooner, a middy, a pot, a pony, a seven, a frostie, a coldie, a bevvie, or a pig’s ear. Staying in? You can go out and grab a beer to go at the bottle-o (bottle shop), maybe a Fourex or a VB?
You can crack a few tinnies, scull a beer (drink the entire beer all at once) or pull a shoey. The latter refers to the Australian tradition of drinking beer out of a shoe to celebrate a triumph or camaraderie. Might not the greatest idea to be in the pub when the local footie team pulls off a win if you don’t like leather with your lager!
To make new mates, consider ‘shouting’ a round for your friends. Be careful not to sit on your beer (drink too slowly) and be sure to shout another round when the tide’s gone out (glasses are empty). Drinking with the flies (by yourself)? No worries – shout a round for the bar.
Now that you know the language, you are ready to venture forth with confidence into the world of Australian pubs and breweries. Here are our recommendations for the Trans-Oceania. Cheers mate!
In the 1830’s, when many of the state’s hotel pubs started to open, part of their liquor license forced them to accept any corpse brought to their door. Hopefully that will not be an issue for our riders!
Hargreaves Hills Brewing Company (Lilydale – 2004) – Located just outside of Melbourne in the Yarra Valley, this pioneering microbrewery is worth the effort to get there. It was founded by Simon Walkenhorst, a classical pianist, and Beth Williams, an opera singer. The original building was destroyed in 2009 during the Black Saturday fires but with the support of other local brewers, they were able to reopen shortly afterwards. Try one of their core beers or see what seasonal specialty they have on offer.
Boat Rocker Brewers & Distillers (Melbourne – 2009) – Matt, one of the owners, travelled the world in the 1990’s and appalled at the bland beer offerings in Australia decided to do something. He and his wife Andrea started selling his flavourful brews out of the trunk of their car. After saving their pennies and winning awards they were able to open their dream brewery where they specialize in barrel aged beers like Jaffajet, a Chocolate Orange Barrel Aged Imperial Stout.
Mitre Tavern (Melbourne – 1868) – This tiny gingerbread is quite the find. As one reviewer marvelled, it “looks as though some magical tornado has picked up a pub from the English countryside and deposited it incongruously amongst the steel and glass of Melbourne’s financial district.” It is also said to be haunted by the ghost of a woman who hanged herself in the building when her lover chose his wife over her.
Seven Stars Hotel (Adelaide – 1857) – Founded by a British immigrant and named after his favourite local back in England (the 7 stars refers to the Big Dipper), this pub now has a modern interior but at one point it boasted a Wild West theme complete with cowboy saddle barstools. It was also among the first, for better or worse, to introduce Karaoke!
Prohibition Liquor Company (Adelaide – 2015) – Many initial immigrants arrived in Australia from England during the Gin Craze of the first half of the 18th century and brought their appetite for the ‘mother’s rum’ with them. These days 21 varieties of gin are made in South Australia and some of the best can be found here in this distillery. Try the Prohibition Bathtub Cut Gin – 69% ABV. Cinnamon, star anise garnish.
New South Wales
Wildflower Brewing (Sydney – 2016) – This small brewery specializes in small batch and experimental beers like Ambrosia Amaro – an ale brewed with gentian and wormwood macerated with sour cherries and pinot noir skins. They ferment their brews with yeasts and bacteria collected from flowers native to New South Wales.
Hawke’s Brewing Company (Sydney – 2017) – Bob Hawke was one of Australia’s most popular politicians and was known to love a pint, breaking the world record for sculling a yard glass while at university (2.5 pints of beer in 11 seconds in 1954). As the company notes, “This is the story of two mates who wanted to have a beer with Australia’s most famous Prime Minister but went one better and started a beer company with him.” A portion of all sales goes to an environmental charity so you can sip some Hawke’s Lager with a good conscience.
Hero of Waterloo (Sydney – 1843) – Named after the Duke of Wellington, it is famous for its cellars. As the pub’s website relates, “An unknowing young man might find himself drunk at the bar, dropped through a trapdoor into the cellar and dragged through the tunnel, only to awake to the morning shanghaied aboard a clipper.” In addition, there is a legend that it is haunted by the ghost of the wife of a publican who murdered her by pushing her down the basement stairs.
Fortune of War- (Sydney – 1828) – It was built by Samuel Terry, a convict who arrived in Sydney in 1800 after being banished from England for stealing 400 stockings! This establishment is known as a hangout for members of Australia’s armed forces. In fact, since 1948 veterans of the 2nd Mountain Battery met every Anzac Day in the pub. Drop in for a beer and maybe get a lesson in the nation’s military history.
Brix Distillers – (Sydney – 2017) – Rum has a long history in Australia, arriving with the first navy ships way back in 1788 and was even used as a form of currency in the early years. This distillery features ‘Molly’, an Australian made, 1800L copper pot, that, along with locally sourced Australian wine barrels for aging, creates the amazing rums on offer including an exclusive Mango version infused with hundreds of kilograms of fresh Kensington Pride Mangoes.
With over 20 breweries to choose from on the island, here are a couple we strongly suggest you visit.
Cascade Brewery (Hobart – 1824) – Australia’s oldest brewery with a beautiful beer garden in the shadow of Mount Wellington. Visitors should be sure to try their Cascade series which is only available in Tasmania (Lager, Draught, Bitter & Export Stout).
Boag’s Brewery (Launceston – 1881) – James Boag arrived in Tasmania from Scotland and promptly decided to open a brewery on what was then a very isolated island. The brewery continues to use James Boag’s traditional recipe to create their beers. Be sure to try the renown XXX Ale – Beautifully coloured and full of flavour and only available in Tasmania!
The Whaler (Hobart – 1829) – Unpretentious watering hole in a beautiful historic building named in the early 1800’s by its founder the Reverend Robert Knopwood in honour of the city’s whaling fleet whose sailors gathered there to get paid and then drink away their wages.
Royal Oak Hotel (Launceston – 1850) – You have to love the pub’s motto – Leap in, limp out.’ Brews on offer include T-Bone, Boags, Moo Brew from Hobart, Willie Smith’s Organic Apple Cider, Gillespie’s Ginger Beer and Launceston’s Kick Snare. The attached hotel is known for its ghost sightings.
The Pub in the Paddock (Pyengana – 1880) – On the challenging stage into St Helen’s, riders will have the opportunity to stop in the small town of Pyengana and visit this pub which features Priscilla, the beer drinking pig. One of Tasmania’s oldest watering holes, you can now you take home a Pig in the Paddock fridge magnet, hoodie or stubbie holder!
If you prefer scotch and love single malts from Scotland…try the whiskey in Tasmania whose distillers are now gaining fame around the world. The weather can be very similar to Scotland and all the ingredients can be sourced on the island, creating the perfect conditions for scotch whiskey.
Waub’s Harbour Distillery (Bicheno – 2017) – On the stage along Tasmania’s eastern coast between St Mary’s and Swansea, riders can stop for a break in the small town of Bicheno and sample some amazing whiskey. The distillery was once an oyster hatchery and features a sustainable cooling system that uses the ocean as its engine.
Pedaling across southeastern Australia, Tasmania, and both islands of New Zealand the multitude of experiences will be hard to fathom: pleasant wine...