The Carinda Hotel – unlikely Bowie history

The Carinda Hotel

Your correspondent made the trek to Walgett to visit a daughter working in the hospital up there. There’s no pub in Walgett and the Sports Club and RSL haven’t reopened. Luckily the publican of the Bucking Bull Hotel in Coonamble told me about the Carinda Hotel.

Carinda is a small country town with a population of 160 people that has two unusual claims to fame. It is a 70km drive from Walgett through some pretty unremarkable country, but if you get lucky you’ll see some Emus.

Carinda Police Station

Despite Carinda having only 160 people, the police station is bizarrely big. In one of the great bureaucratic bungles, the plans for the QuirindI Police Station (not close in spelling to CarindA) were sent to Carinda. Despite the ridiculousness of the size of the building the station was completed to the specs. The upside is the station is now a multi-purpose building given that the citizens of Carinda have proven to be relatively well behaved and not requiring over 5% of their population to be regularly locked up.

Let’s Dance

The more well known claim to fame is that the Curinda Hotel was used for part of the film clip for David Bowie’s 1983 single “Let’s Dance”. Despite a number of changes to the pub’s inside and outside being made over the years, the wall against which Bowie stands has been preserved and is now a tourist attraction in its own right. There’s some memorabilia and merch available commemorating the spot where Bowie stood.

Idiot tourist

The town has embraced the link to the song and the iconic imagery of the red shoes in the clip regularly and holds a Let’s Dance Festival. The local swimming pool has a number of red shoes hung up on the fence and Bowie’s iconic lightning bolt can be seen around the town. I’ve rewatched the clip and am pleased to advise the road outside the pub is no long dirt. Apparently Bowie turned up unannounced and with a minimum of fuss and set-up just starting shooting. The town folk just kept on drinking and occasionally joined in the dancing. Don’t think they’d have seen too many blokes wearing white gloves and waste high white linen pants playing guitar in their pub before.

Red Shoes at the pool

In the rare event you are in Walgett (or Coonamble – 112km), the Carinda Hotel is worth the visit. The beer’s cold and you can get a feed as well.

The Carinda Hotel – 22 Colin Street, Carinda NSW