Friday, 4 November 2011

The Meeting of Beers and Books

Words and Images by Danielle Lancaster

“Men are just like Woolies specials, we all think we have got to have them.” This was one of the first lines uttered to us by Margaret as she walked behind the bar at the Mungallala Hotel this morning.  Did we agree – well more on that later.

“I see you girls have a sense of humour, so what brings you here?” she asked looking over her glasses and eyeing us inquisitively. After a few quick introductions we were drawn away from the bar inspecting the walls graffitied with black pen from the many who had set foot through the doors before us.

Scattered amongst the signings, verses and doodles are memorabilia from days long past. Stirrups, water bags, old hats, basins, even a string of surveyor chain, all meticulously de-cobwebbed forming more of a museum in tribute to earlier life on the land in this part of western Queensland. Some more modern pieces such as the toilet signs are more humours and add additional character to this outback pub.

Many pass this pub standing idle on the corner on their journey west. From the outside you maybe could understand why. The shady verandas don’t lend a hint to the treasures inside.

Of the many items adorning the walls and scattered around the pub, the most precious thing in this pub has to be Margaret. 

Margaret came to Mungallala as a teacher from Ipswich. “I’m an import as I’ve only been here 45 years. It was a bit of a culture shock I can tell you. There was no electricity, running water and of course with no power, no sewage. Electricity finally came in 1971 and then within 18 months we had sewage. We didn’t know ourselves.”

“I retired in 1998 and my husband decided I needed something to do with my Superannuation so we bought the pub. Grand plans were for one of our sons to run it but they had a couple of kids in a couple of years and the two don’t go well together so now I’m here,” she laughs.

I’ve visited a lot of pubs (those of you that know me well can keep your chuckles to yourselves and comments for that matter) but I think I’ve never seen one with such a collection of books. In fact, there is a whole section devoted to second hand books. A new box has arrived today and Margaret is busily going through it as she tells us they don’t get them unless I’ve read them. There’s even a collection of the old cowboy paperbacks where the rough cowboy is pictured with a luscious looking lady busting from her low cut laced up blouse.

We say our goodbyes and exchange business cards – Margaret’s is a bar coaster with her email address neatly written on the back.

Next time you are down this road, don’t drive past and say one day I must stop, simply do it. Be greeted by Margaret a lady of the outback, divine in her nature and a tribute to the women of this wonderful region.

The original Mungallala Hotel burnt down in 1917 and the present hotel was built in 1918. There is a photograph of the original hotel on the wall above the juke box.

Mungallala, originated as a railway town and the name is said to mean 'food and water'. It is located about half way between Mitchell and Morven where the Warrego Highway crosses the Mungallala Creek. At the pub there is free camping; meals all day and hours may vary.

12 Redford St
Queensland 4467
Phone:  07 46236192      

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