Top 10 outback pubs

By Natsumi Penberthy October 27, 2016
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Stop in for a beer at one of Australia’s historic pubs, where you’ll find the hub of many inland communities.

JUST A GLIMPSE OF A HOT and dusty outback scene is enough to make your throat feel parched; it’s not surprising then that the cool and dark interiors of outback pubs are oases of life, and hundreds of them dot the routes scribbled across Australia’s inland.

But these roadhouses are more than just boozers – they often act as post office, general store, cafe, church, airport lounge and even police station. Their colourful and talkative publicans and rows of bar stools provide social touchpoints for the stockmen, farmers, truckies, bush balladeers, weary travellers and other characters who travel the nation’s heart.

1. Prairie Hotel,  Parachilna, SA

Prairie Hotel. (Image: supplied)

On the way into the Flinders Ranges, this 140-year-old hotel is famous for its ‘feral mixed grill’, featuring kangaroo, emu, goat and camel meat made into steaks, sausages and rissoles. Opened in 1876, the pub’s corrugated-iron roof is held up by finely hand-cut sandstone and limestone walls, and its verandah features vistas of the ranges and red desert, sweeping towards Lake Torrens.

2. William Creek Hotel, SA

William Creek Hotel. (Image credit: Repat/

William Creek is South Australia’s smallest town with a population of six. It is also the entry point to the salt pan of Kati Thanda–Lake Eyre from Coober Pedy, and is about halfway along the Oodnadatta Track. Built circa 1935, the hotel is actually an old siding on the original Ghan railway line and featured in the 2015 film Last Cab to

3. The Pink Roadhouse, Oodnadatta, SA

The Pink Roadhouse. (Image credit: Kr.afol/

Located beside a dirt road between Coober Pedy and the Simpson Desert, this bubblegum-pink roadhouse is hard to miss. Here you can enjoy a coldy in the town that, since 1960, has held the record for Australia’s hottest temperature, when it topped 50.7°C. The roadhouse opened not long after the Ghan railway line bypassed the town in 1980, but it survived by serving the four-wheel-drive traffic travelling the Oodnadatta Track.

4. Innamincka Hotel, SA

Innamincka Hotel. (Image credit: Klaus-Dieter Liss/

The corrugated-iron-clad exterior of the Innamincka Hotel sits alongside the Strzelecki Track, near the flood-prone banks of Cooper Creek. Today, Innamincka township has only 18 residents, but the hotel still serves travellers looking to explore the region’s outback landscapes, railway and telegraph relics, and the historic campsites of the ill-fated Burke and Wills expedition, whose leaders died of starvation near Innamincka.

5. Tilpa Hotel, NSW

Innaminka Hotel. (Image credit: Cgoodwin/

In far western New South Wales, 140km north of Wilcannia, you’ll find this classic, albeit tiny, pub. The interior of this corrugated-iron roofed watering hole is plastered with graffiti from its many adoring fans. And, for a $2 donation to the Royal Flying Doctor Service, you too can leave your mark.

6. Nindigully Pub, QLD

Nindigully Pub. (Image credit: Mattinbgn/

‘The Gully’, as it’s affectionately known, is more than 152 years old and was set up for early shearers. It’s thought to be ­Queensland’s oldest pub, and is located in its original condition and position on the banks of the Moonie River, some 500km inland of Brisbane. Today, although accommodation is available, its showers are free for campers and you are welcome to set up a swag on the verandah.

7. Birdsville Hotel, QLD


Birdsville Hotel. (Image credit: Stuart Edwards/

This legendary pub, next to an airstrip on the edge of the Simpson Desert, is full of characters and colour. Built circa 1884 for publican William Blair, the hotel was made from local sandstone, reflecting a lack of suitable timber in the arid Corner Country. Over the years, cyclones caused damage to those structures at the site not built from stone. Today, the hotel’s bar and beer garden are focal points during the celebrations after the Birdsville Races, which annually see this town of 120 swell to about 6000 revellers.

RELATED: The Birdsville races, an outback event like no other

8. Walkabout Creek Hotel, McKinlay, QLD

Walkabout Creek Hotel. (Image credit: Ken Hodge/

This pub in northern Queensland was built in 1900, but was made famous when it featured as Mick Dundee’s rough-and-tumble watering hole in the 1986 movie Crocodile Dundee. Although memorabilia take up some wall space, its interior retains the patina of a well-used local. McKinlay itself, a 2.5-hour drive from Mount Isa, is little more than a few stores and the pub.

9. Daly Waters Pub, NT

Daly Waters Pub. (Image credit: Lakeyboy/

The ceiling of this Top End shanty sags with the weight of dozens of bras, left behind by their owners as part of a decades-old tradition. This tiny iconic pub, the oldest in the Territory, has been welcoming travellers since 1930. It was built to service one of the country’s first international airports, which, before World War II, catered to planes flying the long London–Sydney route. Famous as a break for drovers moving cattle between Alice Springs and Darwin, it’s now also the town’s only postal outlet.

Interior of the Daly Waters Pub. (Image credit: GondwanaGirl/

10. Whim Creek Hotel, WA

In 2014 Ngarluma Aboriginal Corporation and Ngarluma Yindjibarndi Foundation bought the Whim Creek Hotel in the remote Pilbara, and profits now go towards improving the health, education and welfare of Aboriginal communities. The two-storey hotel was established in 1886 to service the country’s biggest copper-mining town, but is now the only remaining building.