Name the best country pub in Australia? When it comes to tough questions, this is up there with the best of them.
Let’s be honest – it’s impossible to nominate just one standout watering hole, so we decided to create an Aussie pubs bucket list instead.
With the BIG4 footprint scattered far and wide, there were plenty of staff members keen to put in their two bob’s worth. Eventually, we decided on a list that features iconic inns and quirky ones; pubs with a unique claim to fame and those as famous for their historical façades as they are for their welcoming interiors.
How many of these pubs have you visited on your travels?
The Pub With No Beer, Taylors Arm
Touted as the inspiration for the famous Slim Dusty song of the same name – not without some contention – this North Coast pub is legendary. Walls are covered with local and pub-related memorabilia, while outside the views are irresistible. And don't be put off by the pub's name – the taps are dominated by the renowned Murray's Craft Beer Co.
Visit...When staying at BIG4 Nambucca Beach Holiday Park.
Robertson Inn, Robertson
The combination of a glorious old hotel that is planted in the scenic Southern Highlands region is the perfect match. This wooden pub has country appeal written all over it: open fires in winter, an inviting deck on a sunny day, and top quality tucker led by the scrumptious chicken schnitzel. Note: there's even a jumping castle for kids at selected times.
Visit...Enjoy a picturesque drive from BIG4 Easts Beach Holiday Park in Kiama.
Hotel Brunswick, Brunswick Heads
We love a pub that reminds you that you’re on holidays, and the chilled atmosphere of the ‘Brunsy’ does just that. Outside the mood is unbeatable, especially on a balmy evening. The brilliant brick façade is a nod to the hotel's past and only enhances its reputation as one of the best pubs in Australia. Local tip: order the chicken burger.
Visit...When staying at BIG4 Ballina Headlands Holiday Park.
Silverton Hotel, Silverton
With a rich history and ample time in front of the camera, the Silverton is one of Australia’s most iconic pubs. Located in the New South Wales outback, near Broken Hill, this hotel has featured in a pint-load of films and television shows, including Mad Max II. Endless charm adds to its billing as a must-visit pub.
Humpty Doo Hotel, Humpty Doo
A Top End pub full of quirkiness, this establishment exudes an ambience you’d expect when visiting a hotel in the Northern Territory. The pub’s diverse menu is worth raving about – as are the portion sizes – and includes such beauties as barramundi, buffalo, and croc burgers.
Visit...When staying at BIG4 Howard Springs Holiday Park.
Daly Waters Historic Pub, Daly Waters
One of Australia’s most famous pubs, this icon also has a high quirk factor. Its rich history is filled with colourful stories that can be revealed over a quiet drink, including why there are countless bras strung up inside the pub. This is a watering hole with true character.
Prairie Hotel, Parachilna
Among the most famous pubs in Australia, this fine establishment oozes charm with its rich history and welcoming vibe. Wander into the front bar and you’ll soon strike up a conversation with locals or visitors from any part of the globe. This classic country pub has a great menu with an array of native Aussie tucker and unusual dishes. If you're game, try the feral mixed grill.
Overland Corner Hotel, Riverland
It’s not just the pub itself that appeals in this case, but its surrounds as well. Grab a table outside and enjoy a feeling likened to drinking in someone’s garden. This limestone structure has had many lives – including as a general store and post office – and serves up quality pub fare in a sunshine-rich region.
Heyward’s Royal Oak Hotel, Penola
The striking heritage-listed hotel offers year-round appeal. Open fires make it a warm and cosy venue during winter and its lively beer garden ensures the pub is a winner during the warmer months. It’s all backed by a great ambience and tasty food that forms part of a seasonal menu. Local tip: sample a drop from the magnificent Coonawarra Wine Region.
The Apollonian Hotel, Boreen Point
This colonial-style hotel was built in Gympie during the 1870s gold rush before moving to its majestic Sunshine Coast location on the shores of Lake Cootharaba almost 30 years ago. The expansive grounds feature beautiful gardens, and sitting under the verandah of this iconic pub on a warm day is pure bliss. Don’t miss the Sunday spit roast.
Visit...When staying at BIG4 Ingenia Holidays Noosa.
The Imperial Hotel, Ravenswood
This is one of Queensland’s most iconic pubs and is exactly how a hotel in an old gold-mining town should present itself. The opulent Edwardian façade serves as a tangible reminder of the past; and inside it is no less grand. The Imperial is untouched from its glory days with its splendid archways and leadlight windows and a warm atmosphere that will grip you with ease.
The Criterion Hotel, Rockhampton
This grand multi-storey heritage building is an eye-catcher, and inside the appeal is just as strong. You’ll be greeted by a warm vibe and cold beer and the opportunity to view a vast assortment of photos and collectables gathered from across the globe. In fact, the Criterion is fit for royalty – just ask Queen Elizabeth II who once visited here.
The Birdsville Hotel, Birdsville
One of Australia’s best-known pubs, the Birdsville is a must for any pub bucket list, even if it more remote than a runaway camel. On the fringes of the Simpson Desert, this 130-year old establishment oozes character typical of an outback Australia hotel with all sorts of mementos lining the walls.
"The opulent Edwardian façade serves as a tangible reminder of the past; and inside it is no less grand."
Tanswells Commercial Hotel, Beechworth
Legend has it that notorious bushranger Ned Kelly frequented this magnificent heritage-listed pub, which was built at the peak of the area’s gold-rush days. Spend time in the well-preserved front bar and you’ll find yourself daydreaming about this golden period.
Visit...When touring Victoria’s High Country.
Holgate Brewhouse, Woodend
The bold red-brick exterior of this historical hotel couples nicely with a classic, cosy interior that hollers ‘come on in’. The top-shelf brew selection offered by these craft-beer veterans means a designated driver is essential.
Visit…when travelling to or from the Goldfields region.
Railway Hotel, Castlemaine
Relive the romanticism of the bustling gold-rush days at this wonderful heritage hotel. You can’t beat a pub that breathes history, and this fine establishment immediately evokes memories of yesteryear. This is one of many Australian pubs with railway in its title; deservedly so considering it’s adjacent to a train station.
Visit…when staying at BIG4 Castlemaine Gardens Holiday Park.
Hotel Sorrento, Sorrento
The sight of a striking limestone heritage building isn’t the only treat for the eyes at this Mornington Peninsula hotspot. Wrap your mitts around a cold drink and soak up glittering bay views from the enviable clifftop location.
Visit...When staying at BIG4 Mornington Peninsula Holiday Park.
The Bush Inn, New Norfolk
Recognised as Australia’s oldest continually licensed hotel, the Bush Inn is a gem. The pub's sense of history yanks at you in an instant and is only enhanced by the photos and other memorabilia that adorn the pub’s walls. This is a hotel full of great yarns – be sure to ask about the ghost in room six.
Visit...When staying in Hobart
Pub in the Paddock, Pyengana
We love a pub that lives up to its name – this fine establishment is literally spotted in the middle of a field, not far from the renowned St Columba Falls. A history dating back to 1880 is not this watering hole’s biggest claim to fame; rather it’s the quirky addition of a beer-guzzling pig. True story.
Visit...When staying at BIG4 St Helens Holiday Park.
"This is a hotel full of great yarns – be sure to ask about the ghost in room six."
The Whim Creek Hotel, Whim Creek
The history of this watering hole is as colourful as its corrugated exterior. The hotel has endured battles with the three Cs: cyclones, closures, and camels that steal beer. Nowadays, it is jointly owned by two Aboriginal corporations that pump pub profits back into the local community. A classic Aussie hotel.
Freemasons Hotel, Geraldton
Notable for its large restored spire, the ‘Freo’ is an icon of this coastal city. The double-story pub has tons of character, attracting an eclectic group of patrons that allows for a lively atmosphere. Stop by on Sunday for a delicious roast.
Do you have a favourite watering hole that you think should be on this list?
Please have a designated driver if you are planning to drink at any of these pubs.