Bars, Pubs and Clubs

Getting Loose in Melbourne

I just spent 10 days in Melbourne, the first few just getting acquainted with the town and the following just smacking up the town like never before. The occasion of course was Australian University Games, this is a week long event of hitting the piss hard, waking up, playing sport and hitting the piss hard again. Needless to say, things sometimes things get a little out of hand.

It became pretty clear to us pretty quickly that there are 2 completely opposite types of pubs in Melbourne, those that take themselves too seriously and those that absolutely don’t. I can’t remember all of the places but CQ and the Queensbridge Hotel were shit. Both of these places were the Uni games sanctioned social venues however they were being exclusive in who they were letting in, only dribbling people into the venue and on Thursday night telling them that it was too late and they had been drinking for days so they couldn’t come in – regardless of wether they were too drunk or not.

Then at the other end of the spectrum there were heaps of smaller places that were awesomely accommodating to a mob of drunk uni students. At the top of the list is “Bev and Mick’s bar” in North Melbourne. This place hosted the mixed netball boat races and even though they shut early than we had hoped they really didn’t give a shit about what went on. The number of glasses that were smashed by people standing on the bar, the number of pissed people painted green and the fact that there was 130 of us in a place designed to fit about 80 all went down without a shadow of complaint.

The other bar that get’s my vote for being accommodating is a little place called “The Red Violin.” We happened upon this place at 3am after being kicked out of the Traffic bar on Federation Square, (which was also happy to let things get loose) the security at the Red Violin were happy to let anything happen as long as it didn’t affect anyone else. At one stage a bouncer woke up a sleeping guy, not to kick him out for sleeping but ask him to take his feet off the table. This isn’t to mention the ridiculous drunkenness, stupid attire or people spitting in each other’s faces. This was all capped off at the end of the week, on Friday night when the dress code had clearly been raised (people wearing suits) and the doorman still let us in, cause we were “cool”.

Hats off to the Red Violin, Bev and Mick’s and everywhere else that made our week grand.

Ohau Lodge and the Glen Mary House Bar

As casual observer you might think that the Ohau Lodge is a quiet ski lodge in one of the most remote parts of New Zealand and that it would only cater to a family ski holiday. While no-one would blame you for thinking this you would be horribly incorrect. I will say that it does cater perfectly to Mum and Dad, not only is staying there cheap but it is easy, very easy. The cheap cost of a room (we paid $270 for 3 people) includes breakfast and a 3 course meal for dinner. The lodge itself is nestled in the startling landscape of the South Island’s Mackenzie country, where the bar, dining room and spa pools look out over the breathtaking view of Lake Ohau.

What does all of this have to do with an aching head you may ask? To which, the answer is the Glen Mary House bar. This place may well be the heart and soul of Ohau, it is a bar which you can only wish that every place you go to has. $4 basic spirits and cheap beers would normally be all I would have to say, but it doesn’t stop there. The deck is massive and get’s some great afternoon sun, the staff are extremely friendly and happy to have a chat and the chances that your fellow visitors are going to be like minded are very high.

My mention of the spas is definitely relevant to the hangover that I woke up with, when we checked in we asked the receptionist about the whereabouts of them to which she replied, “Oh they are just over there, and there aren’t any rules. You can drink in them and they don’t have a closing time.” Taking full advantage of that, my companions and I polished off a couple of boxes of beer and pretty much put ourselves on the ropes for the rest of the evening. A couple of gin and tonics, dinner and a couple of glasses of wine and we were well and truly ready for bed.

Dinner was close to the highlight of the stay, (except for the beef and gravy rolls on the skifield) we were served pumpkin and coconut soup, followed by roasted yams and pork belly with a blueberry pie for desert. I certainly didn’t walk away hungry and the preparation and quality of the food was top notch, especially when you compare it to other places within a 200km radius. While the dinner was sensational, the breakfast was somewhat of a let down, billed as a 2 course breakfast the cereal, fruit and coffee was good, not great (although how you have below average cereal beats me) and the hot part of the meal was small, served with no toast and tasted like it had been being warmed for a few hours.

Don’t let me put you off with my lack of enthusiasm for the breakfast though, everything else about my stay was amazing and I’m really keen to go back. Hopefully in the summer when all I’m interested in doing is getting boozed and having a lazy time and not letting something like snowboarding get in the way.

The Royal Exchange, Toowong

In every town, there are drinking icons, places that everyone knows about, everyone has had their fair share of schooners at, and everyone will have great memories of in 35 years when they can’t drink anymore cause their kidneys give them grief. Of all the pubs in and around Brisbane the RE in Toowong may not be the swankiest, the coolest, or even the friendliest but it’s probably the best local. It’s one of those places that you could walk into blind folded and just the smell of it draws a picture. It just so happens in this case it’s the smell of spew, nonetheless it makes you feel like home, or you are at your local.

Let’s be fair about it, there is nothing that jumps out and takes you about this pub, the beer garden is big, complete with the requisite covers band 4 nights of the week playing more than it’s share of Jimmy Barnes, Powderfinger and Hunters & Collectors. The band has to stop playing at about 11 every night, cause the people that live nearby started complaining about the noise, even though there has been a band playing there since before they were born. Though, it’s not the band that the punters come to see, in fact they aren’t coming to see anything in particular except the beer. That’s the thing about uni students, all they need is a a few tables, a shitty band and cheap cold beer and they’ll sit and talk shit anywhere.

The public bar has about 42 flat screens within 4 metres of each other not to mention a couple of old blokes betting on the dogs that look like they’ve been there since it opened (1876), the dogs haven’t been there since then, the blokes have. The upstairs has a couple of pool tables and a bar, the bar is only open when they’ve got some reason which isn’t really that often. That being said, the upstairs has a nice little deck overlooking the stage.

As I’ve mentioned it’s not the coolest place, but it does have a webcam, so head on over to the website and check it out for yourself.