8 of Australia’s Most Unique Outback Pubs

When traveling across the wide-open spaces of Australia, there’s no better place to get the lay of the land than at a local pub. Much more than a place to sink a few beers, an Outback pub is the beating heart of the community.

Photo © Jo Stewart

Here are eight standout Outback pubs worth visiting around Australia. They are often many miles apart, so make sure you've read up on driving safely in remote Outback roads.

Birdsville Hotel, Queensland

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 catalogues the pub’s history of attracting explorers, wayfarers, wanderers, rovers and larrikins, with the Hat Wall paying tribute to long serving Birdsville locals. Grab a beer, sit on the veranda and watch small planes take off from the airport across from the pub. There’s no airport bar like it anywhere else in the world!

The remote road to Birdsville, Queensland. Photo credit: Jo Stewart

Palace Hotel, New South Wales

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.

William Creek Hotel, South Australia

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.   

Lions Den Hotel, Queensland

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 and off-roading, this is the type of place you’ll hear laconic drinkers spinning tall tales of miraculous escapes from giant crocodiles and epic battles with the one that got away.

Western Star Hotel, Queensland

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 dart board that has seen better days.  There is nothing more True Blue Aussie than sitting on a pub veranda, with a beer in hand, as flocks of cockatoos fly overhead.

Daly Waters Pub, Northern Territory

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.

White Cliffs Hotel, New South Wales

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 above ground buildings in town, the White Cliffs Hotel has been quenching thirsts for more than 125 years. A classic pub that serves beers and simple pub meals without fanfare, here visitors can try throwing coins into the upturned umbrella fixed to the ceiling – an inspired way to raise money for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.  

Betoota Pub, Queensland

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 is, until you reach the ghost town of Betoota. Once a busy outpost, Betoota’s population plunged to zero after the death of the local publican in 2004. You won’t be able to get a beer, but an obligatory stop at the spooky, abandoned Betoota Pub is a must in a place with few other options to break up the trip. Stand at the eerily silent bar, close your eyes and listen to clinking glasses of the ghosts of drinkers past.

Welcome to Betoota. Photo credit: Jo Stewart

Whim Creek Hotel, Western Australia

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.

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