WITH hundreds of kilometres between stops, a 4x4 pub crawl isn’t exactly a Saturday night spent staggering between fuel stops. Instead, the cold beer and warm food at an outback pub is a well-earned reward for long days spent behind the wheel covering vast distances of red dirt.
TOP 10: Australia's best 4x4 tracks
Australia is famous for its rural pubs, with most iconic establishments on this list servicing off-the-grid tourers for decades, keeping them well-fed and showered. Many of the publicans and locals are also more than happy to advise passers-by on track information and nearby attractions, or to simply have a general chit-chat.
Considering the vast amount of bush pubs servicing folks as we speak, we’ve tried to tick off six of the more iconic and famous pubs in Australia. So get out there, stop in for a beer, and support these rural communities.
CAMERON CORNER STORE
THE peculiar Cameron Corner Store is positioned where the three states of Queensland, South Australia and NSW meet, at the eponymous junction named after James Cameron who surveyed the area in 1880.
Despite the pub’s isolation, it’s positioned on a busy tourist circuit popular for outback expeditions and travelling parties, so it’s often bustling with tourists heading in crisscrossing directions. Patronage numbers typically spike during mid-winter when the annual Birdsville Races – 480km to the north – take place.
Things quieten during the warmer months – from about October – due to the searing outback heat, but ramp again from late March/early April with people escaping the cooler climes – we’re looking at you Victorians.
The Cameron Corner Store’s fridges house more than 20 varieties of bottled beer (and cider), with the establishment also selling basic groceries and fuel (petrol and diesel).
Accommodation options include single, double and family cabins; with both powered and unpowered campsites also available. Breakfast, lunch and dinner can be purchased from the pub.
Cameron Corner Store is a famous outback establishment that is linked by many iconic outback tracks and destinations. Just remember to pack the fly repellent.
CONTACT: (08)- 8091 3872
PUB IN THE PADDOCK
AN Apple Isle 4x4 trip isn’t complete without a stopover at the Pub in the Paddock in Pyengana, a small rural village located about two hours’ drive from Launceston.
The picture-perfect pub has James Boag’s Draught and Iron Jack on tap, as well as a selection of food in its restaurant including pies, parmas, pork sausages and steaks, many of which is sourced locally.
The walls of the pub itself are lined with memorabilia from the region, highlighting the area’s rich local history.
However, the pub is perhaps better known for its resident pig Priscilla, who lives out the front of the pub and is famous for her drinking habits. Priscilla has become quite the celebrity of late, known for her appreciation of watered-down beer.
For tourers wanting to stay the night after one too many brews, there are six rooms available with shared facilities. Plus, there’s plenty of camping space in the Pyengana Recreation Area which has toilets and hot showers.
An alluring attraction of many rural pubs is the hospitality of staff and owners, and the Pub in the Paddock’s current owners, Rowena and Scott Codyre, are warm and welcoming. Case in point, on a Tassie trip earlier this year for our 4X4 Adventure Series, we popped in to the pub to find the doors locked. However, Rowena and Scott showed up 10 minutes later and let us in for a brew.
CONTACT: (03) 6373 6121
STEP into the iconic Silverton Hotel and you’ll be touched by its quirky charm, with the main bar’s walls packed with hats, guitars, funny signs and plenty of old memorabilia.
“It’s a hotel and a museum all mixed together,” publican Peter Price told us back in 2017.
The pub, only 25 odd kilometres from the well-known outback town of Broken Hill, was originally built in 1884 by John Debaun during the area’s successful mining era.
It was then moved into a two-storey building that burnt down in 1918. The pub moved to its current building, formerly the town’s post office.
Live music and decent pub grub draws in punters, with seven self-contained motel rooms nearby for those who wish to spend the night in a comfy bed.
Don’t forget about the grog, with XXXX Gold, Tooheys New and Old, and Hahn SuperDry all on tap, as well as a selection of cans, stubbies, and red and white wines.
A nearby attraction is the Mad Max Museum, a recommended stop-over when you’re in outback NSW.
CONTACT: (08) 8088 5313
IF you’re travelling from Marree to Birdsville along the Birdsville Track, a stop at the Mungerannie Hotel is inevitable, as it’s the only stop along the way.
The pub is well-known for its collection of hats that cover the ceiling, many once owned by people who have worked on the Birdsville Track. Perhaps disturbing to some, you’ll even find human hair hanging from the ceiling, cut from those who once downed a beer or two here. Like many outback pubs, the walls are lined with paraphernalia including flags, stickers, old signage and stubby holders.
As well as cold beer, the pub serves plenty of food – rolls, pies, burgers, schnitzels and steaks – for lunch and dinner. Plus, you can hunker down for a night at the unpowered campsite, or spoil yourself for a night in one of the dongas complete with an en suite.
In addition, you can rejuvenate yourself at the nearby hot spring bath, or refuel and repair your vehicle at the nearby garage.
If travelling north, the Birdsville Hotel is about a six-hour drive; if travelling south, you’ll arrive at the Marree Hotel after about three hours behind the wheel.
CONTACT: (08) 8675 8317
THE iconic pink outback locale stands out when driving along the remote Oodnadatta Track, and the call of the roadhouse’s famous ‘Oodnaburger’ is often too strong for many pundits.
Known as the gateway to the Simpson, the roadhouse’s origins date back to 1978, when Adam and Lynnie Plate set up a motorcycle repair business and a shop called the Tuckerbox that sold snacks and supplies to passersby.
In 1983, fuel was added to the service and the place was renamed the Oodnadatta Traders. Shortly after it was painted pink and renamed the Pink Roadhouse, a name it retains to this day.
In addition to the memorable food on offer – the as-mentioned Oodnaburger – the Pink Roadhouse has cold beer, wine and spirits, groceries, and plenty of pink clothing, hats and merchandise.
The Pink Roadhouse also has camping sites, powered caravan sites, budget rooms and self-contained cabins. Plus, there’s a mechanical workshop for basic repairs; spare tyres in stock; and a 24-hour recovery service.
CONTACT: 1800 802 074
IF you know a four-wheel driver who loves to plaster stickers on the back of their 4x4, then they’ll more than likely have a Tilpa Hotel sticker.
The famous little bush pub is positioned on the bank of the Darling River, originally established in 1894 to service the boats running freight up and down the river. Nowadays, the main building houses a small bar and a room out the back with a pool table. There’s also a quiet lawn area, a peaceful place to sip a beer while overlooking the river.
Step inside and you’ll notice the walls and ceiling are covered in graffiti, and you can write your own message for a small fee which gets donated to the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia.
The bar serves cold beer on tap – Great Northern, Carlton Dry, Tooheys New and XXXX Gold – while lunch and dinner options range from toasties, chips, sandwiches, pizza and steak. The hotel also has four rooms available for digs, or a gold coin donation will allow you to set up camp over the road for the night.
In addition to the Tilpa Hotel sticker, you can also purchase other branded items such as stubby holders and clothing.
CONTACT: (02) 6837 3928