When I’m going to be in Launceston, I always try for a Sunday night and I make sure that I don’t have to do much the day after. David and Fiona, the owners of the superb Hi George B&B are well aware of my routine of arriving around 5:00pm; quick shower and change of clothing before slinking down through the back car park to the Royal Oak Hotel on the corner of Brisbane and Tamar Streets.
When I arrive, the action’s well underway and I’m thirsty! In fact, I’m bloody parched. Although I’m a randomly frequent visitor, I’m not received as a regular. The bar staff seem different on each occasion and they don’t know my routine of starting with a few pints of Guinness before switching to Hazards.
Meals are delivered to the patrons of the bar. A juicy rib-eye swerves past my lens causing a momentary blur. The gigantic $25 plateful enticed me and left me with a craving for lambs fry with mash and gravy. Lamb shanks came out next on the same tray as an aromatic curry. Could I resist? I had another Hazards instead and food was forgotten.
One thing that always remains the same is the narrow main bar of the Royal Oak, the atmosphere and the wonderful musicians that donate their time and talents for what becomes a wonderful evening of impromptu folk music and whatever. On this occasion I have my NikCon… that’s another story! I am determined to use it before I can’t see through the viewfinder. Handing out Think Tasmania cards and introducing myself to all present, I get the nod for the shoot.
The music continued to play. Perched at the bar, a man from Northern England sang perfectly while accompanied by his whistle-playing lady. Nobody made a sound until the end. My mind drifted back to those wonderful folk musicians in the pubs of my home country. People like Carthy, Jansch and Swarbrick had all started like this.
Diverse Crowd of Pub Patrons
Around a table to the side, a group of young musicians waited their turn with utmost respect for those playing. Courtesy of the house, a giant platter of snacks arrived. A few chicken wings and a samosa later, the playing resumed. It was after 7:00 now and the night had just begun. I was not the only “blow-in” when through the door came a young lady who resembled a rural reporter for the ABC. She ordered her drink as if bidding on a yard of yearlings and, yes: a Royal Oak rib-eye too!
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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