I can honestly say that I didn’t hold high hopes for my visit to Walgett. My daughter is an optimistic soul however, and she said “Wait until we do the Grawin”.
“The Grawin” is a collection of opal mines, miners and some of the most eccentric pubs in Australia. It lies halfway between Walgett and Lightning Ridge and is a mandatory activity if you find yourself with a 100km of the area. You really need a designated driver to do it justice (which we did) and any time of the year would be good. I reckon a Friday arvo crawl finishing up at “The Club in the Scrub” would the way to go.
There’s a few ways into The Grawin and the pub crawl. I would personally recommend starting at the Sheepyard Inn and finishing up at the Club in the Scrub with a stop at the Glengarry Hilton along the way. All of the pubs offer a feed, but it is worth ringing ahead to check that the kitchen is open.
It is worth taking the road into the Sheepyard Inn slowly so that you can see the collection of random dwellings, car wrecks, machinery and mines. There’s some crazy structures. Not too slow – because you don’t want to be caught staring!
Whilst the road is dusty and haphazard you won’t miss the Sheepyard Inn. It is very well signposted. And it is a great pub. Park at the entrance. Indoor and outdoor areas. Drinking posts, pool table, cold beer. Locals drift in and out to buy cases. Could imagine that it’d be different in the height of summer but it was very pleasant sipping a couple of Coopers noticing the “Bra Tree”, the signage and the people.
The “World Famous” Glengarry Hilton is the oldest of the three pubs in the Grawin. Apparently it offers accomodation, certainly offers a feed and very friendly service. The pubs had only just re-opened after the COVID19 lockdown so it was all bottled beer, but tap beer is usually available.
The largest of the three pubs is The Club in the Scrub (a far simpler name than its official title “Grawin Opal Miners Sports & Recreation Club Ltd”. Entirely built by locals, it is proudly gambling free and has shortage of covered and open areas to eat, drink and relax. It is also next to The Grawin Golf Club.
Our party of 10 smashed some great burgers and a mountain of fries. We were lucky to get a meal as The Club has only just re-opened. It was a Friday arvo and cars, utes, families and miners started to roll in. Miners were comparing the contents little bags of dirt and it felt like it was going to be a big night in the Club.
After The Grawin Pub Crawl, we headed into Lightning Ridge for an evening of sunset watching and a moonlight soak in the artesian baths. It is a uniquely Australian place.