Gympie is the nearest town of any substance to Rainbow Beach. New Years Day 2014 saw this correspondent looking to give his kids an air-conditioned distraction from the coastal heat. As appealing as Anchorman 2 was, an all to rare window to visit some of Gympie’s pubs could not be passed up.
18,000 odd people live in Gympie, which sits on both sides of the Mary River. I started on the south side of the River, which is newer and sparser than the historic northside. The Jockey Club Hotel is a pretty ugly beer and punting barn with no attempt at any aesthetic appeal. The tap list was undistinguished and as I found out, conformed to a Gympie district standard.
As soon as I could I made it back to the historic Northside. Being a public holiday, Gympie was extremely quiet and at least 5 pubs were shut. Those that were open mainly entertained punting punters. Mary Street is the main shopping strip and contains at least 4 pubs, only one of which was open. The Royal is more restaurant than pub and looks better from the outside.
Gympie is proud of its large number of heritage listed buildings, most of which are well maintained. The Railway Hotel is the only pub on the list, but looks like it hasn’t had a paint job since it was built. It could be a classic. There are a couple of wonderful indicators of the past (Licensed Victualler), but this pub is probably in a part of town that doesn’t get the traffic anymore.
The next place I visited should be heritage listed. The appalling (sponsored) paint job suggests that it isn’t. The Australian is a two story corner classic. The woodwork has been kept intact but the clash of colours of the sponsor’s signage suggests the owner is colour blind.
The Australian is one of three pubs on top of three successive hills. The second is the Phoenix, which is a large pub that devotes much of its space to a restaurant. It is the only pub that hints at a variance in taps, announcing that Matilda Bay’s Ruby Tuesday will be coming soon. Otherwise it is the ubiquitous diet of XXXX, XXXX Gold, XXXX Summer Bright, Carlton Mid, Hahn Super Dry, Tooheys Extra Dry and the occasional 150 Lashes.
Upon the final hill is perched the Mt Pleasant Hotel, which is another two story wooden classic, whilst not in the same league as the imperious Australian it has a very spacious interior which would always offer respite from the heat. They’ve got a sense of humour as well. So that’s the Gympie Pub Crawl done. Probably less than 50% of pubs covered, but on a public holiday – not a bad effort. Be interesting to see Mary Street in full cry, but that’s for another day.