Celebrating its centenary in November, the Aussie’s long history is rich in colour thanks to the larrikin streak of the clientele.
Australian Heritage Hotel regular, Rolf, took the same spot at the bar, and drank the same beer, every time he stopped in between 1967 and when he sadly passed away earlier this year. Now there’s a plaque marking his place at the bar.
Another regular whose made the Australian his home-away-from-home is Bondi Brian, who sits in the same sunny spot drinking the same beer every visit, too. “If it’s not sunny he doesn’t come,” says Luke Davies, general manager at the historic Rocks hotel.
Davies says people come from all over the world to see the Sydney character, knowing that if they come between 12pm and 2.30pm on a Thursday or a Friday they’ll find him in his favourite spot.
“We’ve got airline stewards and former pilots who he’s met over the years who continually come back to meet Brian and have a Scharer’s [Lager] at the Australian,” marvels Davies.
“I suppose all pubs have their locals, but to have someone sit in the same stool since 1967 drinking the same beer, they become part of the fabric of the hotel and that’s what we’re celebrating,” says Davies.
The Australian, one of the oldest continually licensed hotels in the country, has a premiere place in Sydney’s pub history. “It has existed in three structures, “ says Davies. “We’re celebrating 100 years at 100 Cumberland Street.”
Records show the pub first opened for business in 1824, on a site on George Street where the Museum of Contemporary Art now stands. That building, “Was bulldozed during the plague [in 1900],” says Davies. “While it was being rebuilt at 100 Cumberland, the pub was temporarily housed in another structure located nearby.”
Finally, in 1914, The Australian moved to its third and final premises on Cumberland Street. Since then the pub has become an institution in the historic Rocks area.
Renowned for the art on its walls as much as for its distinctive Edwardian architecture, The Australian is marking its centenary by awarding the inaugural Aussie Art Prize to an original work with the theme, “Icon of The Rocks”.
Submissions are open during October, and in November the portraits and photographs that currently populate the walls will come down, and new work by Sydney’s budding artists will take their place.
The judges are principal of the Julian Ashton Art School, Paul Ashton Delprat, and Michael Cohen, creative producer at the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, which owns many of the buildings in the area, including The Australian. The prize is $1000 and a Julian Ashton Art School holiday course. Votes for a People’s Choice Award will be collected over the bar and the winner will receive $500 worth of art supplies. Both prizes will be presented on November 14 at the official 100th birthday party.
“We’re calling on friends, young and old, that have worked here, and some of the locals and larrikins who have spent time at the pub in the last 100 years – those who are still kicking around – to come and celebrate with us,” says Davies.
To top off the birthday celebrations, punters can toast the Australian with a specially brewed beer.
“We’re also celebrating with The Rocks Lager, our birthday brew which we commissioned to help us celebrate. It’ll be on tap throughout month,” says Davies.
Submissions for the Aussie Art Prize close on October 24
The 100th Birthday Party starts from 3pm on November 14
The Australian Heritage Hotel
100 Cumberland Street, The Rocks
(02) 9247 2229