A pleasant 27 kilometre drive inland from the Pacific Highway at Macksville in northern New South Wales is the sleepy hollow of Taylor’s Arm. The Taylor’s Arm hotel proudly wears the moniker of ‘The Pub With No Beer’. When we visit the beer is flowing and the meals are cheap and delicious and there is nothing more pleasant than sitting at hand hewn tables on the veranda with the warm sun on our backs. Across the road is the wide expanse of mown lawn that is the town ‘freedom’ camp and in the distance the blue hills of the Great Dividing Range. The pub provides showers for caravaners and there are toilets and a fireplace in the camp area. A small donation is to be paid at the pub for the upkeep of the park.
For those who don’t know the story behind the song The Pub With No Beer here is a brief outline.
A cane farmer by the name of Dan Sheahan went to the Day Dawn hotel in Ingham, Qld in 1943 only to find that the pub had run out of beer, drunk dry by American troops. Story has it that Dan wrote the poem that was later published. Sometime later singer songwriter Gordon Parsons (of Mt Kalang in northern NSW) adapted the poem to a song and added local Taylor’s Arm characters to it. His friend and touring mate Slim Dusty (of Kempsey, NSW) added it to the B side of one of his records and it went on to become one of the best Australian songs of all time.
The original Day Dawn hotel in Ingham was destroyed by fire and is now known as Lees Hotel. It also claims the name The Pub With No Beer but then a song so good deserves to be claimed by two pubs I’d say.
The Pub With No Beer – Gordon Parsons
Oh it’s lonesome away from your kindred and all
By the campfire at night where the wild dingoes call
But there’s nothing so lonesome morbid or drear
Than to stand in the bar of a pub with no beer
Now the publican’s anxious for the quota to come
And there’s a faraway look on the face of the bum
The maid’s gone all cranky and the cook’s acting queer
Oh what a terrible place is a pub with no beer
Then the stockman rides up, with his dry dusty throat,
He breasts up to the bar, pulls a wad from his coat,
But the smile on his face, quickly turns to a sneer,
As the barman says sadly “the pub’s got no beer”
Then the swaggie comes in, covered in dust and in flies,
Throws down his roll, rubs the sweat from his eyes,
But when he is told he says, “what’s this I hear?
I’ve trudged fifty flamin’ miles, to a pub with no beer”
Now there’s a dog on the veranda, for his master he waits,
But the boss is inside, drinking wine with his mates,
He hurries for cover, and he cringes in fear,
It’s no place for a dog, ’round a pub with no beer
Old Billy the Blacksmith, the first time in his life
Has gone home cold sober, to his darling wife,
He walks in the kitchen, she says “you’re early my dear”
But then he breaks down and tells her, “the pub’s got no beer”
Oh it’s lonesome away from your kindred and all,
By the campfire at night, where the wild dingoes call,
But there’s nothing so lonesome, morbid or drear,
Than to stand in the bar, of a pub with no beer.