Chatting all the way to Uluru and back: The barmaid’s history lesson 237



View Profile


This is the next instalment in Theresa Ross’ travel diary where she walks through Australian outback towns. To read her previous entry, click here

My adventures chatting and walking continues, dear friends, but first I must tell you the story of one great chat I had in Winton (pop 900)…all thanks to a 25 year old barmaid called Amy.

I was doing a load of washing when Amy from the Tattersalls Pub across the road (owner of the caravan park) was cleaning the amenities. A casual conversation began that left me an expert on the four hotels in town. Amy was on a roll and I couldn’t stop her.

“Tattersalls is the best pub in town”, begins Amy. “Paul (the gregarious owner) is the best boss I’ve ever had: free drinks, food and lodgings. It’s the best place to eat too. And Paul won’t tolerate any swearing. No f….s or c….s. He wants it to stay a family friendly pub”.

As Amy mops floors and cleans showers, she pops her head out to tell me … “but Tattersalls is not a party pub. Paul sends the party animals up the road to The Australian. That’s the party pub: loud music, people drinking shots … it’s as rough as anything”.

I tell Amy we’ve already worked this out for ourselves! The Australian has all the atmosphere of a run-down cheap hotel in a bad area of town. Geoff and I hurry past as we walk to the Post Office daily.

Yet, across the road is the high and mighty, right-regal The North Gregory Hotel looking classy and beautiful but delivering nothing much at all. I ask Amy about it and she tells me this pub is hopeless and no locals go there. “It’s the only hotel in town not managed by the owner; he lives in Sydney”, she says from inside the gents’ toilets. Yes, we had noticed how empty it was.

“It’s had so many managers I’ve lost count … No character”, says Amy as she washes old rags with great gusto and then bashes the mop against a post. But, Amy’s not finished with me or the amenities yet!

As she rinses the cleaning rags in the sink, she tells me that the Winton up the road isn’t too bad either; great for pizza. Paul and the owner are mates and help each other out when they can.

All the time she’s been talking, I have been intrigued by the vivid colour of her purple hair and matching clothes so I ask if her favourite colour is purple. A story ensues but it seems that she considers her hair BLUE not purple and she isn’t happy about it either. However, I tell Amy that the purple hair suits her personality!

As Amy leaves, Geoff and I decide to walk to the Winton Hotel to check it out for ourselves. We arrive hot and flustered as it’s now midday and we’re hungry. A counter lunch is sounding awfully good so we walk in to an empty bar and ask the barman.

“What? No counter lunches?” we say in unison. Drat! We order an icy ginger beer instead and settle in for a chat with the barman. Turns out he knows all about pubs; he was a roving manager travelling all over the outback filling in at pubs for years.

However, he’s been in Winton 21 years now and loves it. At this point Max drops a clanger when he tells us he had a 6 ft snake in the pub just this morning!

“Oh, but that’s nothing,” he says “we get plenty of deadly brown snakes in the bar during summer. The bar clears when they come in. The big burly blokes run, leaving it to the old skinny fellas like me to handle it!” At this point, we think about running out ourselves …

We loved chatting to Max but believe me he was enjoying himself even more telling these scary tales to us city folk.

We begin discussing the other pubs in town and Max confirms everything Amy has told me already. It’s been a very interesting morning all in all. We’re now experts on Winton hotels!

On the way back, we pop our head into Tattersalls Bar to tell purple/blue haired Amy we’ve been to The Winton Hotel. She is delighted at our interest in the pubs of Winton and says “Yeah … Max … he’s a real good bloke …”as she throws ice into a glass.

After four days in Winton, Geoff and I feel like we’re part of the furniture. What’s more, Tattersalls Pub is the best neighbour we could have whilst on the road. Paul and the staff treat us like family and we feel content and are reluctant to leave.

But all good things must come to an end dear friends and we really must head to Uluru or else we’ll never get home! Who else will we be chatting to next I wonder?



Have you been to Winton? What did you think of the pubs? What are some other great country pubs around Australia? Share your stories and recommendations below!

Theresa Ross

Theresa is now in her late sixties, married to a rather ‘interesting’ man called Geoffrey who gives her much fodder for writing. She is now retired after a career in the Federal Government but with four grandchildren, studying Shakespeare, going to her monthly Book Club and trying to edit some books since she got her Diploma of Editing, she doesn’t have enough hours in the day! Of course, there is also a need to keep up with her blog Life with Tess ( whose readers expect to be entertained at least three times a week. Yes, it’s a good life in retirement!

  1. I remember getting caught on the wrong side of the Jessamine Creek at Winton, after the river at Longreach came up behind us in Jan 1981.
    My father, partner and myself slept on the road using a car cover as a tent for a few days.
    There were other people trapped with us – a furniture truck where the man slept on the furniture and a refrigerated truck with beer, that didn’t get across to Winton.
    When the ceek went down enough, I waded across to the town side and met someone that owned a horse.
    She offerred me a ride doubling into town.
    The horse slammed us both onto the road.
    She offerred me a ride by myself, and again I got slammed onto the road and ended up at the hospital with a swollen wrist.
    In town I discovered the river was going to come up again and I waded back across again and got a tow from a 4WD.
    We stayed gratefully in a dusty back room of the hotel in Winton for the night.
    It was in Winton that I discovered the horse that had thrown me onto the ground had only just been “broken in” !!

  2. Have been there twice, !st. time had a lovely meal at the Gregory. 2nd. time went to Winton it was dead no one in there. Disappointed!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *