Without being consciously aware of doing so, I continually scour the streets of Oz for a pub that resembles the ones I frequented in my country of origin. I know that I’m never going to find the likes of one of my haunts that dated back to the year 1189 AD but the Shipwright’s Arms Hotel in Trumpeter Street, Battery Point, Hobart has won my heart for now.
My Kind of Bar: Shipwright’s Arms Hotel, Battery Point
This pub was established in 1846 and is truly loved by the residents of Hobart and visitors alike. If you pass through the doors on a Friday or Saturday evening, you will know the reason why. You won’t hear the sound of pokies or gaming machines. No, you will be delighted by the sound of voices enjoying light conversation and banter.
I have been in Shippies several times but it was only on the last occasion that I decided to book a room and really go for it! It was around lunchtime on a Friday in July when I arrived laden with a large cargo bag and day pack. I squeezed through the side door and made my way to the bar.
Drinking A Welcome Ale
Immediately I was greeted by a most attractive bar maid that you only see on the Austar UK TV channel. Natural blonde, slim, seductive smile and the teeniest bit of cleavage revealed. Every man’s dream this girl!
In no time I was drinking a complimentary Coopers 150 Year Celebration Ale from a wine glass so that I could sample it like you would a Penfolds Grange. I took my time and chatted with two others while the girl of my dreams prepared to show me to my room. I followed her through a lockable gate and up the staircase to the landing where we entered a narrow corridor of doors until we reached my room. It ended there!
A standard room is just big enough for a double bed and bedside cabinets but no more. You will find it clean and comfortable but may not like the inconvenience of walking along the corridor to shared toilet and bathroom facilities during the early hours when the beer is rapidly passing through. It was just the one night for me and quite a novelty but I would upgrade to an ensuite room on my next visit.
West Coast Eagles v North Melbourne Kangaroos
Friday night and the West Coast Eagles are in town for the clash with North Melbourne. I’m perched on a stool, like Jimmy Woodser, drinking more of the choice ale from a wine glass. All around there is a hum of noise and jocular laughter from the beer swilling men and a sprinkling of wenches who like to let their hair down after a day at the office or to celebrate the end of a week when they’ve completed the household chores.
The regulars stood out. All of them were; except for myself and a few Eagles fans who had made the trip from Perth. A Scotsman with a broad accent signalled me out for a chat and I was soon “Jimmy”. When they’ve had a few, Scots call everyone Jimmy and continually nudge your arm with their elbow during every slurred sentence. I just nod as I don’t understand most of what they’re saying!
The Manager of the Bar
I moved to the bar to get a better look at my girl who started work that morning and went to 2am. She had something in a small bottle that amused a huge lump of a man whose stool was hidden by his large backside. At a guess, I would imagine it to be a small private part floating in brine. It was getting a laugh and she was proud of getting the desired result. I wonder whether this is written into her terms of employment. All in the life of a bar maid (this one’s a bar manager) I guess!
I listened to three gentlemen of my age who were still dressed for the office. They’d been there since leaving work and were as full as boots. One large scotch after another had distorted the mouth of one. He was talking poo sideways and wasn’t easing up. They seemed to be bagging one of their absent mates but swear words made sentences unclear. It was almost ten and they were just firing up.
Choose Your Poison: Eating or Drinking
Those with sense had chosen to eat in the packed restaurant where a comprehensive range of nicely priced meals are served to well-behaved patrons. I am either drinking or eating and, when I’m seriously drinking, I don’t let food get in the way.
Nautical themes adorn the walls and ceilings of the Hobart pub. I can imagine what it will be like when the Sydney to Hobart yachties are in town. I know there’s a good thing on New Year’s Eve starting in the afternoon with jazz but I don’t like drinking beer from a plastic glass (how can you call it a glass) on these occasions and I’d give it a miss.
Ladies Beware, Roger’s Upstairs
It was time for bed. I could still hear the noise from the bar downstairs but was soon asleep. It wasn’t long before I had to tootle along the corridor to the loo. I noticed that the toilet roll was spent and made a mental note to steal the one from the ladies in the morning!
I made it through the night dreaming of Australia’s best bar maid but my head was banging as I awoke, and my mouth was like a Ryvita, reminding me of the session I’d had the night before. A toilet roll had magically appeared. It must have been placed by a mermaid or a passing sailor or had my dreams been bi-lateral?
Bed and Breakfast at Shippies
A small kitchen at the end of the corridor had ample basic supplies for a breakfast of cereal, toast, jam, tea or coffee. It was clean and comfortable to sit in. Back the other way, close to the stairs, is a lounge room with magazines and a bay window that looks down Trumpeter Street to the Derwent.
After a quick shower I left through the side door and into the cold morning air. Later that morning I returned to collect my bags and enjoyed a quiet one at the bar while I waited for Gavin of Think Tasmania to collect me. After a 2am finish, she was back at work with a smile on her face and looking as good as ever. The beer wasn’t bad either.
Roger Findlay spends all his holidays in Tasmania, then writes about the
experience for Think Tasmania. If you’d like Roger to visit you in the name of
research (so we can publish information about your business), please contact us.
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