The last few days have been a real haul–not to mention a few sleepless nights in the Outback. Simply finding people to talk to was becoming a challenge until this afternoon. Not feeling up to making the 1,000km trek into Darwin, I turned off of the Stuart Highway a few hours north of Tennant Creek–riding 3km down to the Daly Waters Pub.
I had heard about this place, but expectations were tempered by its remote location. As I rounded the bend past an oddly placed 10,000 foot airstrip, I came across a sea of campers and smiling tourists. Just as I thought I was too far out to find a good party, Daly Waters landed in my lap.
The pub was abuzz with people checking in to the hotel and caravan park, folks having afternoon drinks, playing billiards, and ordering the legendary Daly Waters Beef & Barra (you have to order in advance to guarantee a spot at the table).
The back patio was filled with staffers setting up for the evening’s bbq and live music. Brown Eyed Girl played throughout the complex from the jukebox.
Of all the places I have visited across Australia, this one is the likely front runner for fun, scenery, friendliness, history and perhaps more than anything else, character.
Both interior and exterior are richly adorned with memorabilia from nearly 100 years of operation. Originally the Daly Waters Drover’s Store, the pub has a piece of history on every inch of every wall. Bras, panties, ancient moonshine bottles, a telegraph machine–items showcasing the style and taste of every generation since inception.
Now, instead of cattle ranchers and indigenous inhabitants, Daly Waters Pub is populated by hundreds of tourists on any given day, and still just a handful of year-round residents.
The US military opened up shop here in the 1930’s as a strategic launching point to Singapore during WWII, making the aforementioned air strip the first international airport in Australia. Across from the pub sits a ticky-tac souvenir shop, complete with a retired military helicopter on the roof.
Mining, war, the Outback, ranching, tourism–Daly Waters has it all–making it one of the best comprehensive representations of Australian history currently in operation. The bar is also a great place to cool off over a beer as well.
Darwin will have to wait.