It usually attracts journos and CBD workers, but once a year, Union Hotel is overrun by diggers.
It’s not all golden oldies though. The Union’s annual ANZAC Day Street Party in Waymouth Street takes the ‘party’ angle pretty seriously. And that atmosphere attracts all ages.
“It’s a happy day,” says digger Ron Clark. “There’s no room for gloom. You don’t have to consume alcohol but let’s face it, it helps.”
The street party is in its 40th year and Clark has been a regular for 30 of them, mostly because of its ties to Legacy, a charity providing support to families of deceased and incapacitated war veterans. Clark is 90 but that won’t stop him sinking a few drinks when he catches up with mates from the British Commonwealth Occupation Force on Monday.
The Union Hotel was originally run by three sisters with a strong military service association. It became the unofficial “second office” to diggers like Clark when Legacy House moved across the road. The hotel’s managing director, Piers Schmidt, continues to honour diggers who served and died in war.
“The current owners have really pulled all stops,” says Clark. “They’ve not only continued it, they’ve developed it. They supply space and rations for the barbecue and afternoon tea.”
Two thousand people are expected to show up to toast the ANZACs on Monday.
“It’s a day of recognition and commemoration,” says Clark. “It’s about companionship. Most people, I would say, have a connection, one or two steps removed from an ex-serviceman.”
Waymouth Street will be closed to traffic for the event, which spreads from Topham Mall to Young Street. Live music and food stalls will feed the masses. Dig deep when volunteers wielding a tin hat stroll by.
“The place really comes alive in the afternoon,” says Clark, before admitting, “I’m not that old, but I’m on the way home by the time the evening comes.”
The Anzac Day Street Party kicks off at 10am on Monday April 25 and runs well past midnight. The Union Hotel, 70 Waymouth Street, Adelaide.