wining and dining

Australia's greatest pub crawls

Cheers! (Photo: Oliver Strewe / Lonely Planet Images)

The Lucky Country is blessed with hundreds of great pubs. Luckily you can tick a few of them off in one session by embarking on, ahem, a cultural tour of our greatest drinking establishments.

Fremantle, Western Australia

I am willing to stick my neck out here and say that Fremantle has a higher ratio of great pubs than anywhere else in Australia. This, of course, makes it a pub crawl paradise.

Mojo's and the Newport Hotel are great for live music, while the Norfolk and the Sail and Anchor have a great range of beers. The latter is a gorgeous building, and the pub itself has a really pleasing laid-back vibe to it. It's the sort of place you can happily settle down in for the afternoon.

Best of the lot, however, is Little Creatures. WA's (and arguably, Australia's) best brewery is onsite in the gigantic former boat shed. Understandably, the beers are as fresh as they get and uniformly superb. It's a fine spot to grab a bite to eat too.

The Rocks, Sydney

Sydney has a few areas that make for good pub crawling — Paddington and Glebe are among them — but the best known area for bar hopping is The Rocks. A series of great pubs are enclosed in a small area, and the crawl can be extended into the city or Circular Quay should the mood take later on.

Amongst the best are the Mercantile, which is a real Irish pub complete with the fiddly live music, and the Lord Nelson. Try a pint of Three Sheets in the latter — it's not ironically named.

And, if you need a food stop somewhere along the line, The Australian on Cumberland Street is a great venue. It has seemingly hundreds of different beers available and, more importantly, a range of fantastic gourmet pizzas.

The Gold Coast, Queensland

On the Gold Coast, it's not so much about pub crawling as club crawling, and there are a few party buses that will take revellers around Surfers Paradise's most popular joints.

One of them is run by Wicked Club Crawl, which gathers huge groups together on Wednesdays and Saturdays. VIP free entry to five bars and clubs is included as is the odd prize giveaway. There's even a game of bowling thrown in at the start of the evening.

Be warned, though — this is the sort of thing you have to be up for. If you're the sort of person that likes taking things at your own pace, you'll hate it — this is Enforced Fun Central. The night out costs $30 if booked online.

Cairns, Queensland

The Cairns nightlife scene isn't all that dissimilar to the Gold Coast's, and in some ways it's even rowdier. To prepare for a night ahead, kick off with a big, hearty feed at the Cock N Bull on Grove Street — it's good, solid grub and they can never be accused of skimping on the portions.

From there on, you can go for the classy option — Tides at the Shangri-la Hotel — or take Cairns as most visitors do, and throw yourself headlong into the mayhem. Gilligans, PJ O'Briens and Shenanigans are popular with the travelling community, but follow that route and you'll almost certainly end up at the notorious Woolshed. And possibly in some state of undress by the end of the evening.

Hobart, Tasmania

With the waterfront, Salamanca Place and Battery Point all pretty darned close to each other, there's no real need to plan a definitive route in the Tasmanian capital — simply stumble out of one bar headlong into the next.

The Hope and Anchor on Macquarie Street has a good claim to being the oldest pub in Australia — it's been running since 1807. It's hardly the most stylish joint, but has a certain old-school charm.

From there, it's possible to amble on down to the Telegraph and Customs House, both of which specialise in live music, and into Salamanca Place. In the latter, take your pick.

Alternatively, it's possible to sign up for a guided walking tour which throws in bush liqueurs, gruesome tales from the past and a bit of Hobart's history. It costs $27.50 with Hobart Historic Tours.

Glen Innes, NSW

For a true pub crawl with a difference, then the station country around Glen Innes is the place to head for. Pub Crawls On Horseback is the brainchild of the chaps at the Bullock Mountain Homestead, and it's not just a clever name — the basic idea is to combine a few days riding with a few great country pubs.

Port Adelaide, South Australia

Should you like to get a bit of culture while you're drinking, then the Port Adelaide Heritage Pub Trail is a winner. The nine pubs on the trail — the list can be downloaded at — all have a significant history to them.

Ales & Sails on Commercial Road, for example, is thought to have a resident ghost (Hamish) and its cellar used to house English prisoners back in the colonial era. The Port Admiral Hotel is the oldest building in the Port, and the Port Dock Brewery Hotel was a brothel back in the bad old days.

All have their unique charm and interesting architecture. And, of course, a few good cold beers. Those taking on the trail can download vouchers giving discounts at the pubs on the trail.

User comments
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Whoever wrote the pubcrawl article, should reconsider their researching abilities. Nobody heads to Port Adelaide to drink, whether you be young or old, the best pubs are in the city and surrounding Eastern Suburbs or down towards the beach, but NEVER the port!!
Don't people do pub crawls in Melbourne???
Yes indeed a unique and good drinking establishment with internationally awarded beers. It's name is actually derived from what is was after it was a boat shed. The Endeavour replica was built there...folllowing on from was a shed for farming crocodiles..little creatures!
How can you not mention Kalgoorlie?!?! More pubs in that place than in any one town around australia. All within walking distance. Best party town.
I don't know where you are from or if you have even been on this supposed pub crawl but the pubs in Port Adelaide are a dive! Sure if you don't mind drinking extremely average beer amoungst some of Adelaide's most feral, go ahead, but sadly this is not for the majority! Why not try the city centre, you've got The Austral, The Exeter, The Worldsend where you can sit back and watch the world go by, not to mention some funky little bars inbetween. Or maybe just sit back in the best beer garden in Adelaide at The Ed in the back streets of the Eastern suburbs where you wouldn't have to move all day!
To say that the windy "Capuccino City", has the highest ratio of good pubs in Oz, is a joke. You obviously have not taken a stroll up Darling St., Balmain, starting at The London, (miss the Unity), Monkey Bar, (miss the Town Hall), Dry Dock, Royal Oak, are you still standing!!, up toThe Exchange, then Dicks, The Welcome (One Hat Restuarant), The Sackville, and we've missed The William Wallace etc., that's without crossing Victoria Road, to the many others!! Then there is all the Rowing & Sailing clubs on the harbour in the inner west,.... how long have you got mate! I suggest you get a professional to discuss pubs in future, and also you omitted some of the better pubs in the Rocks, like the Lord Nelson, & The Hero Of Waterloo. Cheers.
I cant believe a list of best pub crawls was listed without the mention of Kalgoorlie, WA. Where else can you walk to 26 pubs (plus a few clubs and an RSL) in one day. My friends and I have been doing the Beers, Boobs and Brothels Tour (as it has become known due to Kalgoorlie's love of bars and brothels) for about 4 years now every Easter with the rule of at least one beer at each pub. It has grown from humble beginnings of about 6 of us to a record crowd last year of about 30 people... although Im not sure how many made it home. Aside from the antics, each pub in Kal has some great stories and heritage - and every publican is a character. Except the guy at Star and Garter, he wasn't so friendly.
Obviously people in Melbourne don't need to pub crawl!
You didn't mention the Ballarat Uni O week pub crawl. 5000 people in one town with one thinig on their mind. How could you possibly go wrong?