Go bush for ultimate outback pub crawl and yarns
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.”
PUB YARNS: Head west and discover the best yarns in outback pubs.