On the edge of the Simpson Desert, in a remote corner of Outback Queensland, the Birdsville Hotel has welcomed travelers since 1884. A place that revels in its legendary status as a pub that has endured the highest recorded temperature in Queensland (a sizzling 121.1°F or 49.5°C), here you can expect to encounter leather-clad bikers, caked in red dust, alongside well-dressed retirees ticking another Outback pub off their list.
In the Front Bar, an eclectic mishmash of memorabilia
This enduring institution has been a fixture, in the remote New South Wales mining town of Broken Hill, since the late 1800s. Originally a coffee house, the Palace Hotel’s kitsch murals provided the perfect backdrop to camp 1994 road movie The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Over the years, the pub has evolved into a welcoming, inclusive space, even hosting events for Broken Heel, an annual drag festival which celebrates the film that put the pub on the map again. As the only town in Australia where the rowdy coin toss game of two-up can legally be played all year round, this is a top spot to watch the game typically only played on Anzac Day.
Around 100 miles (160km) from the opal mining town of Coober Pedy, and halfway along the rugged Oodnadatta Track, South Australia’s William Creek Hotel is not just a pub but also a one-stop-shop service center. A place to eat, drink, buy fuel, book a scenic flight, pick up souvenirs and more, this simple pub is a hub for travelers who find themselves in the remote outpost famously home to a population of six people and one dog. Under the rusty corrugated iron roof, you’ll find cool ales, hot meals and a place to leave your mark by planting a sticker on the wall or hanging a hat from the ceiling.
With walls plastered with bumper stickers, memorabilia, newspaper articles and graffiti, this longstanding Far North Queensland roadhouse serves beer and pizza with a side serve of dry Australian humor. A magnet for travelers drawn to the region for fishing, camping
Located in Queensland’s Channel Country, the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it town of Windorah is a popular stopping point for travelers driving to Birdsville from Longreach, Charleville and beyond, Windorah’s Western Star Hotel has all the hallmarks of a good bush pub with wood-paneled interiors, ceiling fans circulating in tempo, XXXX brand beer and a
Bring your sense of humor to this one-of-a-kind watering hole found 560 miles (901km) north of Alice Springs. Sitting just off the Stuart Highway, this pub shows zero restraint when it comes to interior decoration. Bras hang from the ceiling, flip-flops are strung up in the beer garden and stickers cover every square inch of the bar. Find a spot at the bar, order a cold beer and ask the publican about the pub’s chequered past – since the 1930s, the pub has seen brawls, murders, robberies and cattle stampedes.
In the parched opal-mining town of White Cliffs, beyond the unsealed roads and grassless cricket pitch you’ll find hundreds of hardy locals living in unique subterranean homes designed to provide relief from scorching temperatures. One of the few
Driving in Queensland’s Diamantina Shire means traveling on long, bumpy stretches of unsealed road with nothing on the horizon but red earth, feral cattle and the odd dead tree. That
Opened during the mining boom that transformed the remote Pilbara region during the late 1800s, the Whim Creek Hotel’s fortunes have swung as wildly as that of the miners who traveled great distances to strike it rich in the copper mining business. Reportedly once home to a beer drinking camel and a resident ghost, this grand old dame has survived cyclones and financial ruin, but has been given new life after being bought by two local Aboriginal corporations that reinvest profits into community health, education and welfare projects. Simple rooms and free camping spots offer comfort for road-weary travelers. Order a meal and you get a free shower – a good incentive to try the award-winning Barra Burger.
A bad wildlife experience may not always be easy to spot. As with any aspect of responsible travel, do your research.
Here are the top places to go in the Northern Territory, from Kata Tjuta and the Kings Canyon to Katherine Gorge and Gunlom Falls.
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