Go bush for ul­ti­mate out­back pub crawl and yarns

Balonne Beacon - - NEWS -

COL Whe­lan spent al­most three decades in the rather im­per­sonal role as of­fi­cial pho­tog­ra­pher of Aus­tralia’s Na­tional Rugby League com­pe­ti­tion.

Sure, he en­joyed what he did. Af­ter all, he had the best seat in the house at a sport he re­ally loved, and he met hordes of in­ter­est­ing char­ac­ters. But it was still a job.

So, in the off-sea­son, Col of­ten took to the road, and to the bush. He had a mo­tor­bike, and while he en­joyed the soli­tude of the long trips, he es­pe­cially rel­ished the in­ter­ac­tion with the lo­cals when he stopped over at a pub.

Here, he dis­cov­ered, were real peo­ple, telling it ex­actly how they saw it; un­cen­sored and un­cut.

Soon the ex­pe­di­tions, and the pubs, took on a life of their own and Col Whe­lan has pub­lished a book, Pub Yarns: The Pub, the Whole Pub and Noth­ing but the Pub.

“The book is not the dream. Getting peo­ple into the coun­try is the dream. The book is merely one of the ve­hi­cles.

Take for ex­am­ple Mary Craw­ley, 92, who runs the Tat­ter­salls Ho­tel at Bar­ringun on the Queens­land-NSW bor­der mid­way be­tween Cun­na­mulla and Bourke.

“Mary, with her ever-present dog Gidgee at her feet, will get you your first drink and then come around and join you in the sun­shine. But when I in­ter­rupted my chat with Mary to ask for an­other, she re­fused to fetch it.”

Out at Toompine, an hour from Quilpie, Dogga runs the lo­cal whose 2630-hectare beer gar­den is veined with yab­bie-filled wa­ter­holes. Yet, ac­cord­ing to Col, he is rarely be­hind the bar.

“In­stead he’ll join you out front, telling sto­ries and laugh­ing at yours.

“Gotta make ‘em feel at home’, he says.”

PHOTO: FILE

PUB YARNS: Head west and dis­cover the best yarns in out­back pubs.

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