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Watering Holes in Newtown, Sydney, Australia

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Newtown, Sydney, Australia has been described as a place that has everything in a size to fit anyone, a rich cultural tapestry of harmonious diversity... but where's a fella supposed to get a drink?

There is a 'Bermuda triangle' area around the train station on King Street, Newtown, otherwise known as the Town Hall, Oxford and Bank hotels, all of which should only ever be entered late at night. This applies less to the Bank, which has a good cocktail bar at the rear and a Thai restaurant in the beer garden, than the other two. It is only a short walk to the next one and, suffice to say, a good time can be had at all of these hotels... and you probably won't be that choosy late into the night anyway.

Pubs of Choice

Carlisle Castle - Without any doubt, even though the Carlisle Castle has lost some of its appeal since the renovations were done - sorry, no longer is there a pot-bellied stove or rain-affected third pool table - but it is still the best place to go for a quiet drink with friends. Being located in a residential street a few blocks from King Street means that the large majority of visitors to the area are blissfully unaware of the Carlisle's existence; which is part of the reason for its charm, along with the friendly locals, marble bar, availability of pool tables and the possibility of hearing a bunch of locals jamming around the piano. There is free pool on Tuesday nights, before the mixed doubles pool competition, and a singles competition on Thursday nights. The jukebox selection is only average; and the bistro is overpriced and to be avoided, except perhaps for the Berroca1 breakfast on the weekends.

Courthouse Hotel - You are much better off going to the Courthouse Hotel, for its good cheap pub bistro, or to one of the many eateries on King Street itself, if you are looking for something to eat. Apart from the bistro meals, which are particularly pleasant when eaten out in the beer garden on a nice day, the Courthouse does not have a great deal of appeal. People under the influence of illicit substances, or on the lookout for some, should be advised that this hotel is the watering hole of choice for the local constabulary, and should probably go elsewhere.

Other Pubs

  • The Sando (Sandringham Hotel) - This was once a bastion of local independent and alternative music, which was turned into a poker machine palace and should therefore be avoided at all costs - it's recommended that you withdraw your custom in protest at this terrible state of affairs.

  • The Coopers Arms (aka the Shakie) - With apologies to the night manager, this place is like the Courthouse without the bistro.

  • The Marlborough - Usually has dodgy cover bands playing over the weekend, which should be enough information for you to make up your own mind whether this place will appeal to you or not. It does have a good bottle shop attached to it, if you are eating at that end of town and the trivia nights early in the week are quite good fun.

  • The Newtown Hotel - For those of us who are into pretty multicolour rainbow stickers and drag shows.

There is now an Irish pub on the former site of a McDonalds restaurant; which, although it is no doubt like every other mock Irish pub in Sydney, is probably worth visiting for a quiet personal celebration of the rare demise of a multinational fast food chain outlet.

1Berroca effervescent vitamin tablets are dissolved in water to produce a fizzy drink reputed to be a morning after remedy for a wild night before.

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