Friday, May 1, 2009

Clubs, Pubs and Cheap Drinks

Last week I ventured into The Gallipolli Memorial Club (Dugout Bar) at the Circular Quay end of Castlereagh St for a few beers with an old work colleague. Its a small RSL with a Chinese lunchtime noshery and $3 schooners during happy hour. The previous week I had met up with Our Man Lermie outside the Automobile Club before heading off for a couple of quick beers.This got me remembering a couple of quirky little clubs which I used to frequent but no longer have their own premises.

The Cricketers Club Of NSW used to house iteslf above the bank in Barrack Street, Sydney. I became a member because of the proximity to where I worked, low beer prices, their magnificent bacon sandwiches and the cricketing memorabilia which adorned the walls. Every year they'd host a dinner for whichever team was touring and that was always entertaining. The place was a rightly well regarded establishment. It had affiliations with international and interstate cricket clubs including the Cricketers Club based at the Gabba. Back in the 80's I used the reciprocal arrangements to ensconce myself in that clubs fantastic facilities during a couple of Test matches. It was old school, cheap drinks in glasses and a brilliant view of the ground. Fine times indeed except for the fucking West Indies giving our blokes a complete towelling.

Now for all of the vegan whingers out there, The Bicycle Club was housed on the 3rd floor of 36 Carrington St, right next door to the Menzies Hotel and right below a component of the State Headquarters of the Department Of Social Security for whom I worked. That was a top fucking place for afternoon tea and no mistake. Cheap drinks, a sit-down Space Invaders game, jukebox, poker machines and a shit load of drunk public servants. Not one bicycle rider to be seen. In fact I don't think I ever saw anyone remotely resembling a cyclist in the too few years I attended the place. Obviously it couldn't cope and eventually shut down. I think their lease eventually went from reasonable to "you fuckers now have to pay Prime CBD rates or yez can fuck off out of there." I think they re-established in a cheap suburb somewhere but our venue loyalty at afternoon tea time didn't extend to travelling for more than 20 seconds in a lift let alone hop on a train to nowherefuckingstan. So when it shut we just frequented the bars of the Menzies Hotel and various pubs within a five minute walk.

One of my faves was The Occidental. Back in the day it was more like a country pub and we ended up running amok there., but mostly in a good way. The back lane was a different matter but that's a tale for another time.
The Occi used to serve country style lunches, roast of the day, rissoles, vegies, proper mashed potato and it never cost more than two beers. Don't know what its like now but I'll check it out again soon. One of the bar managers there graduated to taking on the licence of The Chamberlain Hotel (before it got done up like a cheap St Kilda tramp), The Captain Cook and now has the licence for The Metropolitan. If you ever venture in there say g'day to Mark, Michelle or Chris (Young'Un). The steaks aren't bad if you're feeling hungry. Tell Mark he'd banned you once from the Chambo or The Cook for abusing The Angry Red Head.

I'm currently trying to get a WW fan fic piece together which will feature the Chambo. Its a crap bit of writing at the moment and needs something. Perhaps it could be Havock wearing a frock or Dr Yobbo sans hat. Maybe just tits 'n arse and a cheap joke. We'll see.

I'm now heading off to The Dugout for a few Friday nighters. Cheers!


  1. 'a small RSL with a Chinese lunchtime noshery and $3 schooners during happy hour'

    Yeah but then they make you vote for Denis Fitzgerald in the Parra leagues elections. And he's a c--t.

    Anyway it's not a hat. It's a particularly large and misplaced goitre.

    I suck at remembering pub names in Sydney. I thought the Metropolitan WAS the Occidental (ie the one above Maccas). And as for the pubs in the Rocks, took me years to remember which was the Australian, which was the Orient and which was the Lord Nelson. (The latter was easiest - the one full of dicey home brew where the most drinkable thing available was Coopers Sparky on tap). At least the Lowenbrau joint was fairly self explanatory. The enormous jugs gave it away. As did the large containers of beer the barmaids served.

  2. I'm a couple of years younger than you, I started going out during the great gentrification of all pubs everywhere that happened during the nineties. Everytime we found an acceptable local, they changed the bastard and we had to find somewhere else because we didn't fit in. Still haven't got one to this day.

  3. Speaking of Havock wearing a frock, the Taxi club was an interesting club once upon a time. Can't say I've been there in around 10 years, but Boss Lady's bestie was a regular there and dragged us along to a few shows. Lovely ladies, but BIG hands.

    Has the Gallipoli club moved or is it still across the road from the Paragon? When I worked at UBS in Macquarie Place in the early 90s (pre-merger with SBC) the view from my desk looked straight across at the Gallipoli Club. I was nearly directly above the Customs House bar, so on Fri nights I'd just keep an eye out for my buddies to arrive before heading down for about a million beers.

    Oh and some of my best memories as a kid were of sitting at the Qld cricketers club and watching the cricket with my dad, ducking out to the dog track to get autographs from the players as they headed to and from the nets. I remember getting Dennis Lillee's, Greg Chappell's and Rod Marsh's... great times.

    Hey I've ordered you a Tshirt... still an XXL I trust?

  4. Looking forward to the fan fic.

  5. Any bars down there that do a decent hamburger, or maybe tacos? If not I may have to start one.

  6. It was a pleasure to drop a couple of schooners with you. I always thought that the Occidetal was the Oriental! Right up until I read this.

    The warehouse guy at work used to be the barman at the Cricketers' Club on Barrack St. Goes by the name of John

  7. Sorry guys, I've been off tap for a few days.

    Dr Y - The Occi is on the corner of York and Erskine. That Parra Leagues election was hilarious! Free food vouchers for Chinese speakers. Wonder if Rudd attended. As for pubs at The Rocks are concerned I remembered Phillips Foote because of the steaks and The Orient because of the brawls. The others just merge into pubcrawltopia.

    Uamada - its an uphill battle. At least my publican keeps the Metropolitan at an acceptable standard.

    Abe - XXL is correct. The Gallipoli across from The Paragon is still there. In fact I went there looking for venues during my first week here. There's another Gallipoli club just up a couple of blocks on Castlereagh which houses the Dugout. I found that one in my second week.

    Barnes - it maybe a little wait.

    YD - most pubs which serve food will do burgers. Not many would do tacos, some maybe do nachos but every freaking one seems to do salt'n'pepper bloody squid. Its as fucking prevalent as sun dried tomatoes and focaccia was in the Nineties. Its okay as a food but geez, I wish they'd stop banging on about it. They all do steaks, mostly at a decent standard.
    Lerm - we'll do it again some time except I'll bat on for a bit longer. Tell John he probably served me quite a few beers. Its a while ago so I don't remember the names of the staff, but they were good. They knew how to pour a good schooner.