Top ten Australian outback pubs for an ice-cold beer

 

There is nothing like a cold one for slaying the thirst during the long, hot summer and in Australia's baked and sometimes absurdly hot Outback, a beer is almost like an end-of-day transfusion for a motley bunch of miners, shearers, truckies, vagabonds and travellers just passing through.

In one-emu hamlets and parched towns across this continent, amber nectar is far from the only succour provided by the pub.  It's entertainment central, a one-stop slop where country music rules, the one-eyed man is pool king and the walls are plastered with foreign currency, lingerie and pictures from the night "when things got really interesting".

Here are  10 of Australia's most memorable Outback pubs which, to corrupt the words of "Hotel California", you can check out any time you like but, you might never want to leave.

1. Iron Clad Hotel, Marble Bar, Pilbara, WA  

Named by American miners for the Iron Clad boats that used to ply their trade on the Mississippi River during the Civil War, this is the consummate Outback pub in what is officially Australia's hottest town.  In 1923-24, Marble Bar set a record for 160 consecutive days above 37.8C and the ramshackle Iron Clad remained a lifeline through that spell as well as surviving cyclones and fires for 120 years. With its corrugated roof and blistering paint, it's not much to look at but downing a glass of Emu Bitter here, on a day that's as hot as a furnace, feels like winning the Outback lottery. 15 Francis St., Marble Bar WA. 

2. The Prairie Hotel, Parachilna, Flinders Ranges, South Australia 

First licensed in 1876, the Prairie grew to prominence thanks to the marketing genius of the Fargher family, who bought the hotel in 1991. From the watering hole for a settlement with a population of seven, the Prairie has become famous for its "feral foods" menu, featuring such delights as camel sausage and emu fillet mignon. The pub also offers luxurious accommodation in its refurbished heritage rooms and in an annex at the back. See prairiehotel.com.au

3. Palace Hotel, Broken Hill, NSW  

Broken Hill is a teeming metropolis compared with Parachilna, yet the Palace remains an Outback pub at heart and is well-known from  the movie Priscilla Queen of the Desert.  With its wraparound balcony and ornate lattice work, The Palace is pretty as a picture outside and adorned with flamboyant murals inside. It has 48 rooms, from the "Priscilla suite" to backpacker dormitories and has regular live entertainment. thepalacehotelbrokenhill.com.au

4. Adelaide River Inn, Northern Territory

Located 106 kilometres south of Darwin, en route to Katherine, on the Stuart Highway, the Adelaide River stands amid tropical gardens, shady trees and freshly-mown lawns and is as family friendly an Outback pub as exists in Australia. And don't adjust your eyes, that really is a buffalo standing on the bar, and not just any broad-horned beast but Charlie, faced down by Paul Hogan in Crocodile Dundee. See Adelaideriverresort.com

5. Birdsville Hotel, Queensland  

Situated at the edge of the Simpson Desert, this is the last or first beer stop in one of the continent's most parched landscapes.  Overwhelmed with swaggering punters during the Birdsville races in early September every year, when the population of 100 swells to several thousand, it provides a focal point during the madness, with toy horse races held outside and Brophy's boxing tent providing thrills and spills next door. See queenslandholidays.com.au.

6. Family Hotel, Tibooburra, NSW

It might be "just down the road" in Outback terms but this pub in NSW Corner Country is a long way from anywhere, 1200-kilometres inland from Sydney and over 300 klicks from Broken Hill.  Yet it was once on the Cobb & Co network and features murals by Australian artists including Clfiton Pugh and Russell Drysdale. It's a reasonable stopover when Lake Eyre is filling up. See tibooburra.com.au

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7. The Daly Waters Pub, Northern Territory 

Festooned in discarded bras and foreign banknotes belonging to a "traditional Drovers Bank" and featuring a thong tree outside, its fair to say it can get wild at this tiny NT pub, 1000 kilometres north of Alice Springs. It's historic too, the oldest in the Territory, quenching thirsts since 1893 and accommodating high-flyers en route by plane to London, prior to WWII. See dalywaterspub.com.au

8. Imperial Hotel, Ravenswood, Queensland 

The Imperial is one of two surviving pubs in this former gold-mining town, 90 kilometres south of Townsville, listed in its entirety by the National Trust. With a population of under 200 now, Ravenswood is something of a ghost town and this atmospheric pub is reputedly haunted (stay the night to find out).  The central feature of the 1902 hotel is its intricately sculpted wooden bar and there are also stained glass windows. 23 Macrossan Street, Ravenswood.  

9. Silverton Hotel, Silverton, NSW  

The Silverton is probably the most easily recognisable Outback pub in Australia, having featured in numerous television adverts and played a part in movies like Mad Max, A Town Like Alice and Wake In Fright among many others.  Located close to Mundi Mundi plains, the Silverton Hotel is  surrounded by galleries and outdoor works by local artists, including Peter Browne's quirkily decorated Volkswagen beetles. See silverton.org.au/hotel.htm

10. Pub in the Paddock, Pyengana Valley, Tasmania

Although not technically an Outback pub, being in temperate Tassie, this joint in the middle of a field nonetheless qualifies for its prime idiosyncrasy. It also hosts a giant porker, Pinky, who relishes a coldie. Close to St Columba Falls and a little inland from the dazzling Bay of Fires, the Pub in the Paddock has the most picturesque setting of all. St Columba Falls Rd, Pyengana. 

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