Australia’s Top End: Outback pubs

Long travel distances in Australia make its Outback Pubs or roadhouses an essential feature of any overland adventure, not least in the Northern Territory, colloquially referred to as the ‘Top End‘.

Food, refreshment, often fuel, and local culture offer a glimpse of what it’s like living in remote regions of Australia. The Northern Territory is home to some great Outback pubs.

The Humpty Doo Outback Hotel – it’s famous don’t you know – is not quite what it was in the good old days, when the public bar rejoiced in resident buffalo, emu and other Top End critters.

Humpty Doo Outback pub, Australia

Some law and order has finally caught up with the Northern Territory – Australia’s final frontier – they have even now introduced speed limits on the roads! But when health and safety ruled out livestock in the bar they had a mighty big BBQ.

Humpty Doo Outback pub, Australia

Humpty Doo is actually the agricultural area outside the state capital of Darwin, and seems mainly home to endless mango plantations. I wanted to visit here because of the name if nothing else.

Apart from the local colour, and a cold beer on a hot Top End day, the Humpty Doo Outback Hotel has great food! If you fancy a Buffalo, Barramundi or crocodile burger with all the trimmings this definitely the place to go.

Humpty Doo Outback pub, Australia

Another Outback pub I visited is on the way to Kakadu National Park. Bark Hut Inn is on the Arnhem Highway and a good refreshment stop en route from Darwin. It used to be a basecamp for buffalo hunters back in the 50s and has a massive buffalo trophy head above the bar, as well as live buffalo in a paddock out the back.

Water buffalo were introduced from Timor by white settlers in the 1820s and by the second half of the 19th century were wild in such numbers that a semi-commercial hunting industry sprang up. An out of control population was ruining the precious wetlands so they were culled in the 1980s. The population is now around 1,000 with the Aboriginal people desiring their continuing in the area as a food source.

Apparently you can do a pub crawl by helicopter to five Northern Territory Outback pubs, including the Humpty Doo Hotel, Mandorah Beach Hotel, Crab Caw Island, Goat Island and Litchfield Pub. The locals must think that’s crazy.

By Natasha von Geldern

Have you visited one of Australia’s Outback pubs? What’s your favourite?

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17 Replies to “Australia’s Top End: Outback pubs”

  1. EDGYMIX-TRAVEL FOR FASHION

    I only have been to Uluru and Alice’s spring-the central part of Australia and have NOT seen one outback PUB!! The area only fill with expensive restaurants! How sad:P Everything is so pricy over there. Why don’t they have outback pub over Ayer’s rock like Darwin? If yes, that will be great:) But I definitely need to check out the northern part of Australia later:)

    Great site with lots of information:) and have to come back from time to time:)

    Cheers
    EDGYMIX-TRAVEL FOR FASHION recently posted..Antarctica-Animal StyleMy Profile

    Reply
    • Natasha von Geldern Post author

      I definitely ate an entire Barramundi burger and it was delicious! Had a taste of Mr Wandering Kiwi’s buffalo burger… and some croc…

      Reply
  2. Laurence

    My favourite outback pub was also in the NT – the Daly Waters pub. It’s a great spot for camping, and the beer and entertainment was excellent. When I visited there was a chap singing and playing the guitar whilst balancing bald eagle chicks on his head. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything quite so surreal…
    Laurence recently posted..In photos: the 2012 Occitan Piégut Félibrée!My Profile

    Reply
    • Natasha von Geldern Post author

      That’s a great image to have in your head for the rest of your life! The beer is agreeably cold, not sure I’d call it excellent. If we were in New Zealand on the other hand… 😉

      Reply
    • Natasha von Geldern Post author

      Have to agree and I didn’t have high expectations for the Humpty Doo hotel – but really those burgers were good!

      Reply
  3. Boz

    Visited heaps of outback pubs, but the best was the PurplePub in Normanton – it sure was PURPLE! We were in a pub in Moree – just the barman and the four of us. Suddenly the door opened and then closed again – no sign of anyone. The barman said “Don’t worry about him he comes in for a drink at this time every night”!

    Reply
    • Natasha von Geldern Post author

      LOL, yes Outback pubs are definitely the place to ‘meet’ true Aussie characters! Thanks for visiting and commenting mate!

      Reply
  4. murray

    does anyone know of the history of the water buffelo at the Humptydoo pub . What was its name and how many Darwin stubbies did it drink ? When did it die and how heavy was it .

    Reply

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